Archives for category: Democrats

Laurel M. Sturt, education activist, explains here why she is voting for the Green Party this November. In New York, where she lives, the two major parties have become indistinguishable.

She writes:

“In the last decade, the Democratic party has become increasingly indistinct from the Republican, both parties in virtually impervious thrall to the siren of money. As exacerbated by the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court decisions, the–for all intents and purposes–wholesale prostitution of both parties to special interests has forced the true agenda of today’s elected officials into the light: the sacred civic duty supposedly embodied in a position called, after all, “public service,” has been exposed to be less motivational than the perks and influence inherent in a position of power. While we watch, haplessly marginalized on the sidelines of integrity, these unworthies blithely ply their incompetence–via obstructionism (McConnell), corruption (Rangel), or any number of ignominious affronts to decency, or democracy. This laser-focused drive to maintain a privileged position, moreover, comes with the most flagrant, arrogant dismissal of accountability. We came very close, after all, to electing a president with the hubris to trumpet the slogan “Country First” while simultaneously exposing us to the possibility of governance by Sarah Palin–and Rod Serling wasn’t even in the room when that decision was made! Indeed, her very choice as a running mate was a perfectly indicting metaphor for a system whose morality has gone AWOL, in a scenario increasingly where an elected official is not a bonafide public servant but simply playing one on tv. As such, our national script has abandoned the dignified legacy of John Adams, alas, in favor of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

“The convergence of the two political parties in a shared embrace to protect the power status quo–enabled by money overriding principle–has been nowhere more evident than in the attack on public education. No Child Left Behind, despite its feel-good soundbite of education as a civil right, has been revealed to be a privatizing agenda from conservatives not compassionate but impassioned, in fact, by the prospect of public dollars pouring into private coffers. Indeed, the tools for this, among them a pervasive culture of high-stakes testing, have had the added bonus of busting teacher unions, the last inhibition to fully exploiting the education cash cow, a trillion dollar business opportunity here and abroad. Yet far from coming to the rescue of public education, Obama and likeminded Democrats such as New York’s Governor Cuomo have taken up their own torch and pitchfork with alarming alacrity: Race to the Top, and its proponents, have seized on the malevolent premise–and promise–of NCLB, simply ramping it up with steroids. Between the Common Core and other elements designed to privatize a public good, our education system is on the verge of devastation; incredibly, both parties have proven to be equal opportunity plunderers not just of any resource but that most precious of all, our children, the very future of our nation. We could use a Patriot Act, alright, one expressly for education.”

Let’s face it. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t like public schools. He sneers at teachers. If he is re-elected, expect the attacks on public education and teachers to escalate.

Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils. In this race, there is no lesser.

Vote Green.

Angie Sullivan is a teacher who regularly emails a long list of legislators, education advocates, journalists….and me. Here is her outraged commentary about Democrats who collect money from teachers and betray them and refuse to fund public schools. And her outrage at her own state union for supporting Democrats who don’t support public education. In many other states, the Democrats act no different from Republicans in their fealty to privatization and high-stakes testing. See New York and Connecticut as examples.

Angie writes:

http://nvsos.gov/SoSCandidateServices/AnonymousAccess/ViewCCEReport.aspx?syn=%252b5BK3Q5X1G11p0Ui3uhoKg%253d%253d

I think it is time for CCEA [Carson County Education Association] to pull away from NSEA, the state. This political endorsement process is very tragic. I have never seen such a mess and so many bad decisions on too many levels to even speak about here.

To me it was a simple year – no TEI [The Education Initiative] – no endorsement, no money. Doesn’t have to mean we are not friends – just have to focus on TEI.

That would mean NO to almost everyone except about 5 people.

So Oct 10th my union gave $10,000 to Justin Jones to keep the Nevada Senate Democratic? Surely we could NOT have given it to Justin based on his education voting record or actually doing anything productive for public schools.

If I thought the Nevada Senate Democrats would act like this:

http://nhlabornews.com/2014/07/stop-the-attack-on-public-education-aft-welcomes-democrats-for-public-education/

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JabOtrfzjf8

I would be the yellow dog democrat Ive been my whole life. Straight ticket. But the abuse I have received over the last few years has opened my eyes to just how sick my party and union can be.

Justin is no good as an education candidate. The End.

I have begged and pleaded with my union and others to stop rewarding democrats and any others “because the other side is so much worse”.

What could be worse than ALEC legislation?

What could be worse than championing privatizing by charter?

What could be worse than loss in pay, benefits, and retirement?

What could be worse than threatening teachers like we are dogs?

What could be worse than no funds, no revenue, no plans to fund?

What could be worse than not supporting the TEI? In fact campaigning — by strategy — to do the opposite?

I’m supposed to be frightened by vouchers? Parent Trigger co-sponsored by Jones is worse than vouchers. Parents voting to kill their neighborhood schools?

Why do we insist on rewarding this bad behavior? In case Justin Jones wins, he does what to us next? Carry out his threats to “do something about evaluations”?

I have to put up with that.

What kind of favor does Jones deserve taking $10,000 from my union and $10,000 from Students First too? Both?

Who gave him this NSEA money? A committee who votes for endorsements as a clump? Murillo? Does Ruben get special favor from Justin Jones for himself?

Have we asked the members?

So Jones gets the money and to publish we love him . . . but the voter flyer excludes his name? So he got halfway endorsed? We gave him money but do not encourage anyone to vote for him. ok.

And what about all the candidates who we denied – because they wouldn’t be positive about TEI? What do they think when we give money now . . . to those with some mysterious perceived power?

CCEA needs to have more power and control over government relations in the south. The tail needs to stop wagging the dog and the dog needs to stop hiding in Carson City. And if a candidate from any party brings ALEC education reform or votes against us – we need to kick them out.

These education democrats like Justin Jones are not real – they need to be ousted from our endorsements. DFER (Democrats for Education Reform) are simply conservative democrats pushing a privatizing agenda on public schools. They are worse than a Republican — because they have infiltrated, bribed, and been bought privatizing reformers.

Proud to have a child in a charter – and trying to pass this as a democratic value?

http://www.dfer.org/blog/

As a teacher, I can continue to be disappointed.

Someone needs to get some backbone and stand up to these privatizing democratic bullies – because kids deserve advocacy – and a lot better endorsement system than this willy nilly NSEA parade – what a nightmare.

Angie.

A little more than four months ago, New York’s Working Families Party threatened to nominate its own candidate against Governor Andrew Cuomo, because Cuomo had grown so close to his Wall Street campaign contributors and was often called “Governor 1%” for his intense desire to defend the interests of the plutocrats. The WFP was prepared to nominate an unknown law professor named Zephyr Teachout, who was an expert on government ethics.

Cuomo promised to work with the WFP to elect a Democratic majority in the State Senate so that the Legislature could pass progressive legislation, which died in the State Senate, abetted by a small caucus of Democrats who aligned with the Republicans to give them control.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, the state’s leading progressive official, worked hard to persuade the WFP to support Cuomo (even though Cuomo had just humiliated de Blasio by backing charter schools over public schools and gutting the Mayor’s power to regulate charters). De Blasio even nominated Cuomo at the state Democratic convention, burnishing his otherwise nonexistent progressive credentials.

Of course, the WFP gave its nomination to Cuomo, Teachout challenged him in the Democratic primary, and with almost no money, managed to win 1/3 of the vote and half the counties in the state.

Now, lo and behold, de Blasio is working hard to elect the Democrats who would shift the balance in the State Senate, but Cuomo has turned invisible.

The New York Times wrote:

“It has been more than four months since the fragile marriage between the governor and the Working Families Party was consummated: The group endorsed Mr. Cuomo, over many of its members’ objections, after he agreed to pursue a long list of liberal goals, as part of a deal that Mr. de Blasio helped broker.

“The top priority was an effort to tilt the balance of power in the State Senate, where Republicans currently share leadership with a group of breakaway Democrats.

“Less than a month before Election Day, with polls showing some key Senate races leaning in Republicans’ favor, the arrangement with the governor appears increasingly fraught. Despite his pledge to push for Democratic control of the Senate, Mr. Cuomo has at times seemed not to have a strong opinion about the outcome of the November elections.

“You can’t say, ‘Well, I can work well if they elect this party,’ ” he told reporters last month. “They elect a legislature: Democratic, Republican, whatever they elect. I think the job of the governor is to figure out how to make it work.”

Translation: Cuomo hoodwinked the WFP, de Blasio, and the unions.

John Cassidy of The New Yorker wrote a fascinating article on the national implications of Zephyr Teachout’s strong performance against Andrew Cuomo. With little money, little name recognition, and no television ads, she managed to capture a third of the Democratic primary vote. Cassidy says:

“The strong showing by Teachout and Wu was a victory for progressive voters who warmed to their message about tackling rising inequality, political corruption, and corporate abuses. It was also a rejection of Cuomo’s economic philosophy, which led him to introduce a series of tax cuts for the rich, at the same time that he cut the state budgets for education and social services. I’d be willing to wager that most Democrats who voted against Cuomo objected more to his policies than to his personality.

“Teachout and Wu’s insurgent campaigns gave voice to this sentiment. Eschewing the etiquette of internal party discourse, Teachout accused Cuomo of governing as a Republican, acting as a shill for the big banks and other campaign contributors, and being part of a “corrupt old boys’ club” in Albany. Making full use of social media and appearances in more traditional media, she demonstrated that, even in this day and age, a candidate with a real message doesn’t necessarily need the support of the party apparatus, or the financial backing of big donors, to have an impact.”

Interestingly, the Teachout-Wu ticket swept many upstate counties. But their candidacy had a larger meaning beyond New York politics, writes Cassidy:

“Teachout and Wu both achieved more than seemed possible a couple of months ago. By thoroughly embarrassing Cuomo, New York Democrats didn’t merely deliver a blow to whatever national aspirations he may have. They signalled to other Democrats, Hillary Clinton included, that the political center of gravity has shifted, and that a significant segment of Democratic voters won’t suffer gladly a return to the timid, pro-corporate policies of the Clinton years, which Cuomo represents.

“That’s why what happened on Tuesday wasn’t just a New York story: it has national implications. The progressive movement that emerged from the financial crisis, giving birth to Occupy Wall Street and the de Blasio campaign, may still be inchoate and splintered. But it can’t be ignored.”

As someone who has responded many times to Democratic Party fund-raising appeals on the Internet, I now get daily requests to give more. For the past few weeks, I have been responding that I will not give another penny until President Obama renounces Race to the Top and replaces Arne Duncan with someone who supports public schools. I thought I was the only one doing that, but then I got this letter from John Ogozalek, who teaches in upstate New York.

He wrote, in response to a similar appeal:

” Hancock, New York 13783
August 18, 2014

“Dear People Sitting in Fancy Offices In Charge of the Democratic Party,

“Why, why on Earth would I send a donation to politicians who seem intent on harming my family and our kids’ school?

“What a HUGE error the Democratic Party brass has made attacking public schools and teachers. What a bunch of dummies kissing off the support of millions of MIDDLE CLASS voters. (Does the corporate cash mean that much to you??)

“Tell Barack Obama and Arne Duncan that they have FAILED the Democratic Party….they’ve FAILED our children.

“Race to the Top? Farce to the Top!

“Governor Andrew Cuomo is a sellout, too. I’ve voting for Zephyr Teachout September 9 in the New York State Democratic Primary and will strongly encourage every Democratic I know to do the same

“When Democratic leaders are ready to stop sucking up to big corporate money….when Democratic leaders are ready to stand up for families and their schools…..let me know.

“And, no, I will not use my own first-class stamp on your pre-addressed, money grovelling campaign contribution envelope to “help us save much-needed funds”. How many times do I need to tell you that?

John Ogozalek”

Sarah Garland, writing for the HECHINGER Report, says that the Reagan-era report “A Nation at Risk” (1983) laid the groundwork for today’s regime of high-takes testing, longer school hours, and tougher accountability measures. The conservative Republicans he quotes express satisfaction with the Obama administration’s embrace of their agenda. The enduring puzzle: who stole the Democratic agenda of equity and teacher professionalism?

Readers of this blog are familiar with the many organizations that have been created to attack public schools and teachers’ rights, including groups like Democrats for Education Reform (hedge fund managers); Stand for Children (pro-charter); StudentsFirst (pro-charter, pro-voucher, anti-union, anti-teacher); Teach for America; ConnCAN and 50StateCAN (pro-charter); Students for Education Reform; TeachPlus; National Council on Teacher Quality (favors rating teachers by test scores); Education Reform Now; and a bunch of other groups with si,liar names, overlapping boards, and similar funding (Gates, Broad, Walton, Dell, Arnold, Dell, etc.).

On our side, we have the Network for Public Education and dozens of grassroots organizations, some of which are statewide or community-based. None of us has much funding. Now there is a new national organization supporting public schools. This is good news to see elected officials and public citizens standing up for the principle of free public education.

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Contact: Joshua Henne, 732-407-5938

DEMOCRATS FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES

Democrats Remain United Around Core Set of Principles To Ensure Public Education Thrives For Generations To Come

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)– Today, national Democratic Party leaders announced the official launch of Democrats For Public Education (DPE) – a new 527 organization rooted in the belief that each and every child deserves access to strong, safe neighborhood schools with well-prepared and supported teachers. DPE represents a diverse coalition of Democrats from throughout the country who support public education. You can learn more at the new website: http://www.DemocratsForPublicEducation.com.

Democrats for Public Education will lift up public education in America. For far too long, a coordinated effort has been successful in framing a radical, false narrative that the Democratic Party is evenly spilt among those who stand strongly for public schools and those who believe public schools are detrimental to student success. This is simply untrue. With a few extremist, well-funded, vocal exceptions, Democrats remain united around a basic set of beliefs when it comes to educating our children.

“A high-quality public education is an economic necessity, an anchor of democracy and a moral imperative, “ said former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. “Democrats For Public Education is a diverse coalition of Democrats from all across America. We’ve already received strong early backing from hundreds of leaders and activists at all levels of government, from communities coast-to-coast and states in between. That’s because we share the belief that every child deserves engaging curriculum, as well as social services to meet their mental, social and physical needs.”

“Democrats For Public Education is committed to bringing people together to ensure our public school system endures – and thrives – for generations to come,” said former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. “This is about standing up for our principles, standing up for teachers, standing up for kids and standing up for public education.”

The goal of Democrats For Public Education is to show broad-based support around a core set of principles, which includes:

Fulfilling our collective obligation to help all children succeed;
Fighting for neighborhood public schools that are safe, welcoming places for teaching and learning;
Ensuring that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have small class sizes, and have time to collaborate to meet the individual needs of every child;
Guaranteeing that all children have an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education;
Providing children access to wrap-around services to meet their emotional, social and health needs;
Working to provide school districts – particularly those serving the highest concentration of students in need of extra services and support – with the resources required to provide all students with a world-class education; and
Making it clear that public education – for all children – is both an economic necessity and a fundamental civil right.
“As a proud graduate of Louisiana’s public schools, I know the importance of a good public education,” said Donna Brazile, Democratic Strategist and DNC Vice-Chair. “Frankly, it’s the only way we can strengthen, revitalize and grow our middle-class. And it’s the best way we can provide a springboard for the working poor and preserve our American values.”

“As Democrats for Public Education, we’re focused on just that – supporting public education,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, representing Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District. “We support superior standards and finding ways to make classrooms challenging and rewarding for both teachers and students. We believe in instilling critical thinking skills needed for 21st century jobs and the new economy. And we’re committed to a level playing field for all, with well-resourced schools responsive to the needs of the community.”

The list of Democrats For Public Education co-chairs includes the following – with more chairs to be announced in the coming weeks:

Governor Jennifer Granholm (MI)
Governor Ted Strickland (OH)
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
State Superintendent Denise Juneau (MT)
Donna Brazile – Democratic Strategist & DNC Vice-Chair

At DemocratsForPublicEducation.com, visitors can continue adding their name to those all across America who have already signed up to show their solidarity. The DPE website will be a resource and information hub for supporters, activists and the press to keep up-to-date with the latest news on Democrats For Public Education, as well as education issues of interest in general.

You can also follow Democrats for Public Education on Twitter (@Dems4PublicEd) and on Facebook (Facebook.com/DemsforPublicEd).

David Sirota, one of the nation’s top investigative reporters, is now writing for International Business Times. In this article, he describes the differences between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton.

The following letter appeared as a guest post on Anthony Cody’s blog:

Paul Horton’s Open Letter to President Obama: Listen to Committed

Dear Mr. President,

Like thousands of experienced classroom teachers throughout our great country, I am very concerned about how you decided to go the way that you did with your Education policies. I was recently told by a close friend of the yours that “Arne’s Team looked at all of the options” and decided to go with its current policies because “they would get us where we needed to go more quickly than any other set of alternatives.” I was also told, “that not everybody could be in the room.”

The problem was that you and Mr. Duncan did not listen to experience. The blueprint for Arne’s plan for stimulus investment that morphed into the Race to the Top Mandates (RTTT) featured advisers from the Gates and Broad Foundations, analysts from McKinsey Consulting, and a couple of dozen superintendents who were connected, like Mr. Duncan, to the Broad Foundation. Most of those who were invited to advise you were committed supporters of heavy private investment in Education who favored high stakes testing tied to teacher evaluations. Most of these advisers also favored the scaling up of measurable data collection as a way to measure progress or lack of progress in American Education.

If you had listened to the leading experts on standardized testing and the achievement gap, you would have learned that your policies were bound to fail. Our former colleague here at the U of C, Professor James Coleman, was the first to establish this empirically. You should have taken the time to learn learn about Campbell’s Law, a concept that is taught in every graduate level statistics course here at the University of Chicago.

On a more personal level, Mr. President, you consulted many of your contacts in Democrats for Education Reform, an organization funded mostly by Democratic leaning Wall Street investment firms. And you were also very impressed by the ideas and passion of a Denver charter school principal and Democratic activist, Michael Johnston….

Thousands of teachers possess the experience, training, and commitment to advise you on Education matters. But you chose to listen to those who went to places like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford who have only two years of classroom experience. Commitment, I submit, is a very important word.

The true measure of one’s commitment to Education is one’s willingness to sacrifice one’s will to power and economic potential to be successful in the classroom. TFA kids who go back to grad school after two years in the classroom and buy into corporate education reform are embracing their will to power. Most of these kids tend to have every advantage to begin with, they get an Ivy League education, and they are ambitious young liberals. Rather than staying in the classroom and truly making a difference by developing their teaching skills over twenty or thirty years, they can achieve administrative positions in the charter world that have far more economic potential than teaching positions by buying into the mantra of data-driven corporate reform lingo.

You have left thousands of us behind and allowed inexperienced “experts” yellow-brick road access to take charge. You and your administration have encouraged a “Cultural Revolution” in American education. Your Education Secretary embraced and applauded the Madame Mao of this movement and allowed his Inspector General to whitewash an investigation of cheating in DC Schools. You promoted your basketball buddy and very close friend of your campaign finance manager to be Secretary of Education. You chose someone with a Broad Foundation background. The Broad Foundation has written a “toolkit” for the destruction of public schools that is being used in Chicago, Philly, and New Yorks and in many cities across the country.

Your policies represent a new elitism. You seem to think that: “if we can get these really smart Ivy League educated former TFA people in senior policy, superintendent, and administrative positions, then we can turn this whole thing around.”

This idea is arrogant beyond belief, the equivalent of the “best and the brightest” idea that drove us into the ground in Vietnam, only you have decided to do it in Education. Robert McNamara was brilliant, he had an analytical razor, but he lacked a moral compass and anything resembling empathy for the lives of those who were dying in a “winnable” war. Mr. Duncan has a great deal of empathy, however his policies are misguided. Indeed, in my humble opinion, his department’s policies are an inarticulate mess. If he were ever asked the tough questions under oath in senator Harkin’s committee, we could very well discover that his use of the authority of his office overstepped the legal parameters of the laws circumscribing federal involvement in the formulation of Education policy. Ms. Weiss and Mr. Sheldon III, two of Secretary Duncan’s advisors who worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation prior to serving under Secretary Duncan, articulated what Mr. Gates wanted on his terms in exchange for tacit support for your campaigns. Several Wall Street investing firms also made it clear to you and to Mr. Emanuel that they were willing to support you if your Education policies encouraged private investment in charter schools.

Much as McNamara destroyed the U.S. Army in Vietnam, your Education policies are destroying two or three generations of dedicated and excellent classroom teachers by allowing them to be humiliated by young people who have very little experience. The policies that you have endorsed will set the teaching profession back twenty years much as the Cultural Revolution set China back twenty years. While recent studies have indicated that only two to three percent of classroom teachers are ineffective, your policies vilify the 98% who are effective and exemplary. Your policy makers would have done well to examine the teacher assessment policies of Montgomery County, Maryland that are based on the AFT’s Toledo Plan to learn how to deal with ineffective teachers.

You have bought into a corporate model of Education Reform: you seek to create competition among public and private schools, you encourage the “creative destruction” that your University of Chicago Business School buddies and Judge Posner love, and you seem to be gung-ho about selling off the public commons of American Education that were built with the sweat and blood of American farmers and workers. Do your policies work for young people who need stability in their lives? Creative destruction might benefit some kids (I was a military brat), but it probably does not benefit most.

Your Education policies embrace the management tactics of McKinsey Consulting that call for the firing of twenty to twenty-five percent of the teacher workforce every two years. You have said that Education should not “all be about bubble tests,” but your policies measure progress by bubble tests and they narrow the curriculum when they require standardized testing in some subjects, but not in others.

Your campaign pledged to address income inequality, but you and many of the mayors that you support are actively working to destroy what is left of the American middle class. Your Education policies work actively to destroy teacher unions. Many of your mayors and governors are working to bust teacher, hospital, public employee, firemen’s, and police unions….

The questions that you need to examine more closely are:

How do we get and keep candidates who would be brilliant in any career into the classroom?

How do you increase the size of the quality teaching pool?

The answers are clear and they don’t have anything to do with charter schools.

If Mr. Gates were really serious about Education in this country, he could invest in creating a system like Finland’s. The problem is that he is more interested in selling product than investing in four well qualified and well trained teachers in every classroom.

Progress in Education is not about buildings, it is not about technology: It is about human investment, not the expansion of markets.

President Obama, I have great respect for you. I have taught many of the young people who work for you. Ask the young man who has cooked for you for many years what a hard ass teacher I was. Please find the time to talk to committed teachers who have given their entire professional careers to improving Education in this country. This would require you to step outside of your comfort zone inside of Democrats for Education Reform and Teach for America circles. It will also require you to look beyond the mess that Ms. Weiss, Mr. Shelton III, and Bill Gates have helped to create. It will require you to talk to exemplary, veteran teachers about teaching and schools rather than to Arne Duncan

Please encourage Senator Durbin and his committee to completely defund No Child Left Behind. Do you prefer to fund Pearson Education or allow thousands of teachers to be laid off? This is what it is coming down to. Will you allow the middle class to be further eroded? Or will you fight for the jobs of teachers? Will you reward Wall Street investors in Education and Bill Gates, or are you willing to fight for neighborhood schools and arts and humanities programs? Will you use Value Added Measures tied to standardized testing to further discredit teachers? Or will you begin to understand how complex real learning is, learning that can not be measured by “bubble tests.” These are your choices, Mr. President. Please look beyond your current Education advisors if you want to explore complex questions and solutions.

All best,

Paul Horton
History Instructor
University High School
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Leading Democrats have announced the creation of a new organization called Democrats for Public Education.

It will be led by Ted Strickland, former governor of Ohio, and Donna Brazile, political consultant.

Its name is a swipe at Democrats for Education Reform, which is dominated by hedge fund managers, and which funds candidates who support charter schools, Teach for America, and any other group that is antagonistic to public education.

Last year, the California Democratic Party passed a resolution calling on DFER to cease using the name “Democrats,” since their program is a front for the Republican and corporate agenda.

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