Archives for category: Obama

Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, wrote the following:

 

Poverty and the Education Opportunity Gap: Will the SOTU Step Up?

Tuesday’s State of the Union address will apparently focus on issues of wealth inequality in the United States. The impact of poverty is extremely important for issues such as housing, nutrition, health and safety. Additionally, education researchers like me have been hollering from the rooftops, hoping policymakers and others will understand that poverty is the biggest impediment to children’s academic success. So this focus is long overdue and certainly welcome. Yet I worry that the President will slip from an accurate diagnosis to unproven and ineffectual treatments.

The diagnosis is straightforward. I expect that the President will have no trouble describing enormous and increasing wealth gaps. We learned from Oxfam last week that “the world’s 85 richest people own the same amount as the bottom half of the entire global population,” which is over 7 billion people.

In the US, the picture is just as shocking. In a 2013 UNICEF report on child poverty in 35 developed countries, the US came in 34th, second to last—between Bulgaria and Romania, two much poorer countries overall. Twenty-three percent (23%) of children in the US live in poverty.

According to analyses in an October 2013 report from the Southern Education Foundation, 48% of the nation’s 50 million public-school students were in low-income families (qualified for free or reduced-price meals). This level of child poverty implicates not just access to breakfast or lunch. These children face issues of:

  • Housing security and housing (and thus school) transiency,
  • Resources available at the local school,
  • Resources available in the child’s home and community as well as the safety in that community,
  • Access to enriching programs after school and over the summer (and within the school),
  • Access to medical and dental care,
  • The expectations that educators and others have for a child’s academic and employment future,
  • The likelihood of the child being subjected to disproportionate discipline and being pushed into the school-to-prison pipeline, and
  • The viability and affordability of attending college.

Many of the opportunity gaps of the sort described above arise from policies and practices within our schools. But many more—and arguably the most devastating—arise from opportunities denied to children in their lives outside of schools.

When the speeches are rolled out on Tuesday, watch out for evidence-free policy promises. President Obama, I fear, may continue to push for more test-based accountability policies like No Child Left Behind and may hold out the false hope of so-called high-achieving charter schools. The Republican response, I fear, will hold out the related false hope of vouchers, neo-vouchers, and other policies that shift public money from public to private schools. Neither charter schools nor voucher programs have been shown to make a meaningful dent in opportunity gaps or achievement gaps.

Poverty is the main cause of these gaps, and addressing poverty is the most sensible and practical approach for closing those gaps. Our nation will not escape its devastating educational inequality so long as we have massive wealth inequality. Yes, if we ever truly invested in the schools serving our children in poverty—invested in a way that provided tremendously enriched opportunities for those children, giving them equal overall opportunities with the nation’s more advantaged children—we might expect to see a meaningful reduction of intergenerational inequality. But that’s not what we do. Instead, we heap demands on those schools, deprive them of the resources they urgently need, and then declare them to be “failing schools” when they don’t perform miracles.

These nonsensical policies come with an astronomical economic cost and cost to our democracy. Economists Clive Belfield and Hank Levin conservatively estimate that the economic benefit of closing the opportunity gap by just one-third would result in $50 billion in fiscal savings and $200 billion in savings from a societal perspective (for example, by lowering rates of crime and incarceration). These figures are annual in the sense that, for instance, each year a group of students drops out and, over their lifetimes, that dropping out will collectively result in a fiscal burden of $50 billion. By point of comparison, Belfield and Levin note, total annual taxpayer spending on K-12 education, including national, state and local expenditures, is approximately $570 billion. (These analyses are from their chapter in Closing the Opportunity Gap.)

The President’s State of the Union Address and the Republican response will both, it seems, speak to the American people about wealth inequality. They will both, it seems, offer some policy proposals aimed—rhetorically, at least—at addressing this major impediment to the American Dream. To some extent, we may hear about wise, evidenced-based approaches like expanding access to high-quality preschool. But watch out for speeches that identify real problems but then offer nothing more than repackaged, failed policies.

Those who are not serious about addressing inequality will cynically try to figure out, “How do I repackage my existing policy agenda and sell it as a cure for inequality?” Instead, the serious question we should be asking is, “How do I design, pass, and implement a package of policies that have been shown to be effective at addressing wealth inequality and the damage caused by that inequality?”

The nation’s most vulnerable children deserve answers to that serious question. We should honestly consider policies like a guaranteed minimum income, increases in the minimum wage, and a tax structure that shifts the burden toward the extremely wealthy. The way to reduce wealth inequality is to do just that: reduce wealth inequality. Our public schools can help, but they cannot do it alone.

Jason Stanford, a Texas journalist, is appalled that President Obama and Arne Duncan met with Pearson to get advice about how to prepare low-income students for college. The White House refers to Pearson as “the world’s leading learning company,” instead of the world’s largest testing company.

What advice do you think Pearson offered? Stanford bets: more testing, better testing.

He notes that Texas has a contract with Pearson for nearly $500 million. Thanks to high-stakes testing, 76,000 students will not graduate. Testing did not make them smarter. Instead they have been effectively consigned to lifetime struggle and poverty.

The mind meld between Duncan and Pearson is alarming.

Even more alarming is Duncan’s contempt for America’s students, parents, and teachers.

Mark NAISON writes here about the Obama administration’s determination to destroy public education in urban centers.

In city after city, public education is dying, replaced by privately-managed schools that do not get higher test scores except by excluding or kicking out low-scoring students. Many urban schools have been taken over by for-profit chains.

In education, this will be the legacy of Arne Duncan and the Obama administration: the death of public schools in Detroit, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and many other cities.

The greatest hope for the survival of public education is the election of Bill de Blasio in New York City, who will quietly reverse the damaging policies imposed by Bloomberg and favored by Duncan, and the election of a new school board in Pittsburgh, which canceled a contract to bring in inexperienced temps as teachers (TFA).

Politico.com asked a number of people to suggest what President Obama should say in his annual State of the Union Address and what he was likely to say instead. Yours truly weighed in below. You will see that I recommended that he toss out Race to the Top as a failed initiative and get a new Secretary of Education. But just take a look at the headline summary of my written remarks. Since most of those who were asked to comment represent the status quo, they concluded “Most suggestions line up pretty well with existing policy preferences.” My suggestions did not.

“By Libby A. Nelson

With help from Caitlin Emma, Maggie Severns, Nirvi Shah and Stephanie Simon

WHAT ADVOCATES WANT TO HEAR IN STATE OF THE UNION: The White House met with education groups a week ago in preparation for this year’s speech. Past State of the Union addresses have pushed pre-K, college completion and Race to the Top. What does 2014 hold? This wishlist from education policy analysts and advocates might have a familiar ring: Most suggestions line up pretty well with existing policy preferences.

On Common Core: The Fordham Institute’s Michael Brickman hopes Obama won’t breathe a word about the Common Core. [http://bit.ly/1hjPxXr] If anything, Obama should apologize for taking credit for the Common Core in 2012, said Chad Aldeman of Bellwether Education Partners. “He should acknowledge the federal government’s role in encouraging states to adopt the Common Core but clearly and unequivocally state that, while he personally supports the Common Core because it’s a high-quality and common set of standards, he never has and never will tell a state or local community which standards it should follow.” Anne Hyslop of the New American Foundation agreed: “The most effective champions for Common Core these days are not coming from Washington, D.C., and certainly not from the administration.”

-What else should he avoid? Maybe he should stay away from education altogether, said Michael Petrilli of Fordham. “The federal government hasn’t done such a stellar job, so let’s keep mum in the speech,” he said. Kris Perry of the First Five Years fund: “We hope the President doesn’t declare ‘mission accomplished’ on early childhood education, simply because of the good news coming from the appropriations bill, or that he’s scaling down his requests on early childhood. Now is the time to ramp up our efforts, not to pack it in.”

-So what should he say? Possible policy goals: Ending childhood hunger due to its inherent link to improving educational success (Billy Shore of Share Our Strength). He could talk about the great role community colleges play in the development of a healthy middle class (David Baime, American Association of Community Colleges). Richard Barth of the KIPP Foundation would love to see Obama reiterate his goal of increasing college graduation rates for low-income students. And he could back off of his administration’s push to rate teachers based at least in part on student test scores, said Mark Naison , a history professor at Fordham University and co-founder of the Badass Teachers Association. Or he could take a stronger position in favor of education reform and accountability for students, said Hanna Skandera, New Mexico’s state education chief and the chairwoman of Chiefs for Change.

-Noelle Ellerson of AASA: The Superintendents Association, wants Obama to direct Congress to get back to working on reauthorizing ESEA. And the right new version of the law could encompass most of the president’s education initiatives, such as early education and education technology, minus the competition. “Rather than siphon off political chits and divide resources (political support and funding) by creating stand alone programs, focus on the federal flagship K-12 program, ESEA.”

-A new speechwriter? Education historian and activist Diane Ravitch dashed off her own version of an ideal Obama speech: “I am canceling all the unproductive mandates associated with Race to the Top, which have caused teaching to the test and wasted billions of dollars. I am delighted to announce that Arne Duncan, who served nobly in my first administration, has agreed to become the American ambassador to Micronesia.”

-The big picture: American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has a 30,000-foot goal for the address: “Rather than the yearly overtesting of our students, I’d like to see us deeply examine and embrace what other countries that outperform us in education do: hands-on learning, professional development and wraparound services.”

In an article about the retirement of veteran Democratic Congressman George Miller, a favorite of hedge fund managers (DFER) and other supporters of high-stakes testing and privatization, politico.com used language that showed a partisan bent.

It wrote:

“EDUCATION
Miller exit leaves hole in ed leadership
By MAGGIE SEVERNS and LIBBY A. NELSON and STEPHANIE SIMON 1/13/14 4:04 PM

“Rep. George Miller’s departure coincides with that of Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, chairman of the Senate education committee. Will their replacements be reformers or establishment-oriented Democrats?”

So a Congressman who is supported by Wall Street billionaires and by advocates of privatization is a “reformer,” while those who fight for equity of funding and support for teachers and public schools are “establishment-oriented Democrats”?

Are Duncan and Obama “establishment-oriented Democrats” or are they “reformers” fighting “establishment-oriented Democrats”? If the President of the United States and the Secretary of Education are not “establishment-oriented Democrats,” who is?

Wouldn’t it be more accurate to refer to a combination of the Obama administration, the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation, the Dell Foundation, the Arnold Foundation, Rupert Murdoch, Art Pope, Democrats for Education Reform, ALEC, and a galaxy of other powerhouses as “the establishment” or “the status quo”?

This is called “framing the narrative.”

Is politico.com supported by Walton, Broad, and Gates, or are they merely innocent dupes of the billionaire-funded status quo?

Lee Fang is one of our most extraordinary investigative journalists. He is one of the few who has looked behind the rhetoric of the privatization movement that calls itself a “reform” movement. Unfortunately, the goal of “reform” is to dismantle the public sector and turn it over to entrepreneurs. In 2011, Fang wrote a blockbuster exposé about the online industry and its ties to politicians.

In this article, Lee Fang describes Ted Mitchell, who has been nominated to serve as Undersecretary of Education, the second most powerful spot in the U.S. Department of Education.

Mitchell is chief executive officer of the NewSchools Venture Fund, which promotes and funds charter schools and for-profit ventures.

Fang writes:

“As head of the NewSchools Venture Fund, Mitchell oversees investments in education technology start-ups. In July, Zynga, the creators of FarmVille, provided $1 million to Mitchell’s group to boost education gaming companies. Mitchell’s NewSchool Venture Fund also reportedly partners with Pearson, the education mega-corporation that owns a number of testing and test-book companies, along with one prominent for-profit virtual charter school, Connections Academy.

“Jeff Bryant, a senior fellow with the Campaign for America’s Future, says it seems likely that Mitichell will “advocate for more federal promotion of online learning, ‘blended’ models of instruction, ‘adaptive learning’ systems, and public-private partnerships involving education technology.”

“Mitchell did not respond to TheNation.com’s request for comment.

“His ethics disclosure form shows that he was paid $735,300 for his role at NewSchools, which is organized as a non-profit. In recent years, he has served or is currently serving as a director to New Leaders, Khan Academy, California Education Partners, Teach Channel, ConnectED, Hameetman Foundation, the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, Silicon Schools, Children Now, Bellwether Partners, Pivot Learning Partners, EnCorps Teacher Training Program, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and the Green DOT Public Schools.

“In addition, Mitchell serves as an adviser to Salmon River Capital, a venture capital firm that specializes in education companies. Mitchell sits on the board of Parchment, an academic transcript start-up that is among Salmon River Capital’s portfolio.

“Salmon River Capital helped create one of the biggest names in for-profit secondary education, Capella University. “As a foundational investor and director, [Salmon River Capital’s] Josh Lewis made invaluable contributions to Capella’s success. From leading our landmark financing in 2000, when Capella was a $10 million business operating in a difficult environment, through a successful 2006 IPO and beyond, he proved a great partner who kept every commitment he made,” reads a statement from Steve Shank, founder of Capella.”

In sum, the fox has been put in charge of the henhouse.

I confess I have not followed all the twists and turns of the proposals to reauthorize the failed No Child Left Behind law. Almost everyone except its original sponsors agrees that it failed, yet Congress is locked into the same stale assumption that the federal government is supposed to find a magical formula to measure test scores and punish teachers, principals, and schools. Congress, in its wisdom, has forgotten that this school-level “accountability” didn’t exist until January 2002, when NCLB was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Having learned nothing from the failure of NCLB, they can’t now agree on what comes next.

In this story on Huffington Post, Joy Resmovits notes the irony that even Texas–yes, Texas–has asked for a waiver from the disastrous law that was foisted on the nation’s school by not only George W. Bush, and not only his advisers Margaret Spellings and Dandy Kress, but also Democrats George Miller of California and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Now, everyone laughs at the idea that 100% of students were going to be proficient by 2014. What a dumb idea to set an impossible goal. And how cruel to fire teachers and close schools that could not reach an impossible goal.

But look at this:

“Under the waiver, Texas will no longer subscribe to the much-derided “Adequate Yearly Progress” system that measures school performance and requires all students to demonstrate proficiency in reading and math by the 2013-2014 school year. Instead, it will use a new accountability system that expects 100 percent of students to be proficient in reading and math by the 2019-2020 school year.”

What’s this? The Obama administration expects “100 percent of students to be proficient in reading and math by the 2019-2020 year”?

Here we go again.

No nation in the world has 100% proficiency. Doesn’t anyone in DC have a fresh idea? Like one that has some connection to common sense.

This letter was posted as a comment: “I just sent the
following post to the White House: Dear David Simas, I have
supported President Obama and the Democratic Party for some time.
However, I’m totally fed up and dismayed by Arne Duncan and the US
Department of Education’s assault on Public Education in America.
There are a lot of subjects I don’t have much in-depth knowledge
about. However, I have been a science teacher for the past 27 years
and I believe that I do know a little about educating children. I
want to tell you that the Race To The Top and it’s predecessor, No
Child Left Behind along with the excessive emphasis on Standardized
Testing are KILLING PUBLIC EDUCATION. “There are a lot of
experienced, knowledgeable, and well educated, respected educators
who are screaming at you to please stop this nutty policy which
includes Pay for Performance and the Common Core Curriculum. It is
certainly true that public education in America can be improved,
but not with the solutions that are now being implemented (without
documentation that they will actually work). “These thoughtless
policies are destroying communities, families, children and
teacher’s lives–all in the name of “improving education”. I now
believe that RTTT, NCLB, and the associated standardized testing
that now drives instruction throughout the country is doing greater
harm to our nation that George Bush’s War in Iraq. In its simplest
terms, children cannot be effectively educated by a top down,
force-fed curriculum. They hate it, get bored, and don’t see the
relevance of this test driven education to their lives. “Teachers
are not given the freedom to teach to the kids where they are and
build on their knowledge base. Curriculum content is dictated from
on high. This is the same concept that Joseph Stalin had in Russia
with his 5-year central economic plans. Didn’t work then, won’t
work now. “Educating children is a complex undertaking. It requires
two way, personal interaction between a teacher and student. If
class sizes are too large, that just can’t happen. If a teacher
cannot get his/her students interested and excited about learning,
educating the child is not going to be effective. There are 4 basic
ingredients to a good education: 1) Well trained and dedicated
teachers, 2) small class sizes, 3) adequate resources and a decent
environment to teach in, and 4) giving the teachers freedom to
teach. “Some will argue that this will just cost too much money and
that there are cheaper ways to educate kids. But it just ain’t so.
“Education is not about the money, it’s about the kids. It’s not
about international competition on standardized tests. Those tests
actually measure the wrong things anyway and cost waaaay too much
money. Public education is perhaps the most important bedrock
pillar that makes our nation great. Policies now being put in
place, including RTTT and Common Core Curriculum are destroying it.
Our children and our nation deserve better from you. I will no
longer support this President or the Democratic Party if they
continue on this self destructive path. “Al Tate
altate1122@gmail.com”

Paul Horton, who teaches history at the University of Chicago Lab School, wrote the following essay for this blog:

“Democracy and Education: Waiting for Gatopia?

“John Dewey arrived at the University of Chicago in the middle of the Pullman strike. He wrote his wife, still in Ann Arbor, that he had met a young man on the train who supported the strike very passionately: “I only talked with him for 10 or 15 minutes but when I got through my nerves were more thrilled than they had been for years; I felt as if I had better resign my job teaching and follow him around until I got a life. One lost all sense of the right or wrong of things in admiration of the absolute, almost fanatic, sincerity and earnestness, and in admiration of the magnificent combination that was going on. Simply as an aesthetic matter, I don’t believe the world has seen but a few times such a spectacle of magnificent, widespread union of men about a common interest as this strike business.” (quoted in Westbrook, 87). This sense of “magnificent, widespread union” represented the definition of Democracy to Dewey; it was the very core of his writing, work, and public advocacy.

“Later, after he had moved to Columbia University in New York, he had a major disagreement with a very articulate student, Randolph Bourne, about the media pressure to get involved in WWI. Bourne argued then and later in an unfinished essay entitled, “War is the Health of the State” that states thrived on war because war consolidated the state’s power and allowed it to repress any kind of dissent. Dewey was an outspoken advocate of American entry into World War I, but began to question his support after seeing several of his colleagues at Columbia fired for their outspoken opposition to the War. These serious doubts turned into deep regret when he saw that the Espionage Act was used to repress freedoms of speech and press. Respectable citizens, including many thoughtful journalists and political leaders like Eugene V. Debs were routinely thrown into jail. His serious doubts began to trouble him more deeply as he witnessed the Federal response to the postwar Red Scare of 1919, when many American citizens were deported without constitutional due process. He was so disturbed by all of this that he helped found the American Civil Liberties Union that sought to protect due process and other constitutional rights. (Ryan, 154-99)

“From the early 1920’s forward, Dewey became a vocal and articulate public spokes person for Democracy in all American institutions. He founded and led an AFT local at Columbia and often spoke at labor and AFT functions. He believed with every cell of his body that American Schools had to be the incubator of American Democracy. As the shadow of fascism descended over Europe, he became a fellow traveller with the United Front to defend the world from an ideology that had nothing but for contempt for Democracy or any notion of an open society. For Dewey, education that allowed the organic evolution of free speech and the discussion and respect for all points of view in the classroom inoculated American students from the threat of fascism.

“If he were alive today, Professor Dewey would be shocked by what he would see. In part, Dewey’s whole philosophy of Education was developed to countervail the corrosive influence of capitalism on communities and the gross economic power of giant corporations. He sought to defend individual growth and creativity and nurture the sense of public responsibility that was under assault from the pulverizing individualism of the dominant ideology of big business backed Social Darwinism.

“Dewey’s vision is now a major target of major foundations that are funding the push to privatize American Education. Major Wall Street investors and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli Broad Foundation, the Walton Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation, among others, are working together with the Obama Administration to destroy what is left of public education in this great country. Combined, these corporations control approximately 50 billion dollars in assests.

“I will not take the time here to unpack the strategic plan coordinated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and three people within the Department of Education who have turn their strategic plan into a public policy called “The Race to the Top.” You should read Diane Ravitch’s new book to get a clear picture of how this has all been done very legally with the help of the best lawyers that money can buy, millions of dollars thrown at the Harvard Education Department, and with tens of millions of dollars to hire the best Madison Ave. Advertising and PR firms and the best web designers (go to “PARCC” or “Common Core” online). What you need to know is that none of the people behind this plan have any respect for public schools or public school teachers.

“Like Anthony Cody, I have been insulted several times by Secretary Duncan’s Press Secretary and friends of our president who are not open to any imput from experienced teachers. Indeed, I was the subject of a veiled threat from Mr. Duncan’s Press Secretary that I describe here: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/04/paul_horton_of_common_core_con.html.

“In another case, a good friend of the President told me when I protested the Chicago School closings: “who do you think you are kidding, only 7 or 8 percent of those kids have a chance anyway.” Several weeks later when I raised the same subject again, he gave me the Democrats for Education Reform standard line that inner city schools failed because teachers have failed. He was not interested in hearing about poverty and resource starving of schools. I called him on this. The first quote sounded eerily like what Mr. Emanuel communicated to Chicago Teacher’s Union President, Karen Lewis, in a famously closed door, expletive filled meeting.

“What all friends of public teachers and public Education need to understand is that Mr. Duncan and the Obama administration listen to no one on this issue. What Republicans and Tea Party activists need to understand is that this is not about Government corruption, it is about the fact that when it comes to Education issues, we do not have a government. Governments must read and respond to petitions: our Education Department does not seek to communicate with any citizens except by tweeting inane idiocies about gadgets and enterprise. What we have is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsoring the overthrow of the public school system to bulldoze a path to sell billions of dollars of product. Other companies like Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill and Company, and Achieve, Inc. are just coming in behind the bulldozers.

“We must teach the rest of our society that democracy still matters in schools and everywhere else. The time for talking is over! We need to get into the streets and get arrested if necessary. Most importantly every one of us needs to call the same senator or congressman every day until NCLB and RTTT are dead, Arne Duncan does not have control over a penny, and all stimulus money that has yet to be distributed, is given by the Senate Appropriations Committee to the districts around the country that are the most underserved to rehire teachers and support staff. Not a penny should go to charter school construction, IT, administration, or hiring consultants from the Eli Broad Foundation, the Gates Foundation, or McKinsey. Not a penny should go to Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill or any form of standardized testing. All state superintendents who took trips from any Education vendor should resign, and no state should hire an administrator or superintendent at any level who does not have proper accredited certification and ten years of exemplary classroom teaching.

“Now is the time to preserve the legacy of John Dewey and teach the rest of the country about Democracy in Education or wait like sheep for Gatopia to numb us all!”

Paul Horton teaches history at the University of Chicago Lab School, where President Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and Arne Duncan sent (or in the case of the mayor, send) their children. He is a passionate defender of common sense in education and an articulate critic of the current corporate reform movement. As a historian, he understands the nation’s historic commitment to support public education. He also understands that the Obama administration has abandoned any recognition of the historic principle of federalism that limits the U.S. Department of Education’s ability to direct or control curriculum and instruction. This letter was addressed to State Senator Kwame Raoul in Chicago.

State Senator Kwame Raoul

Suite 4000 Chicago, Illinois; 60654

August 6,2013

Dear Senator Raoul,

We know from every measure that the Wilmette-Winnetka, Niles, Hinsdale, and Naperville schools are excellent. They are the highest achieving public schools in the state of Illinois. Their average SAT and ACT scores and the percentage of students enrolled in AP classes, not to mention exemplary performance on AP tests, makes these districts respected by competitive colleges all over the country. Indeed, there is a national competition for graduates of these districts. Why do we need another measure that we cannot afford? Why are we going to pay Pearson Education millions of dollars for products that will force many exemplary schools to lower their standards?

You will see what a massive fraud the Common Core Curriculum is when these schools are forced to lower their standards to teach Common Core and then their achievement will be denigrated by invalid measures designed to make all public schools look bad. When the New York public schools were required to take Pearson Education developed tests this spring, dozens of exemplary schools and districts that have similar profiles to the Illinois public schools mentioned above, received substantially lowered school ratings. The same thing happened in Kentucky last year: scores went down in the best schools, and scores reflected preexisting conditions in underserved schools and communities.

Shame on the public officials of this country for turning their backs on the Northwest Ordinance, a document that precedes the Constitution in American history and law! The Ordinance made an historic commitment to public education. Federal and state governments have turned their backs on public schools because of their dependence on Wall Street funding for political campaigns. How can we allow this to happen?

If Bill Daley is the Democratic nominee for governor and he plans to support the current state school board, I will vote for the Republican candidate if the nominee will do something about Superintendent Koch, Common Core, and the PARCC assessments. Superintendent Koch received paid trips from Pearson Education and the state then hired Pearson to develop its Common Core standardized tests.

I am a life long Democrat whose family has proud connections to the Civil Rights movement in the South. This administration and its operatives like Mayor Emanuel, have all but abandoned the country’s historic commitment to public education. When will an element within the Democratic party of Illinois stand up for common sense in Education?

Senator Raoul, you have stood very bravely in defense of teacher pensions. Can you stand up for the teachers and parents of Illinois, and buck Mayor Emanuel, Secretary Duncan, and the Democrats for Education Reform who seem more interested in attracting Wall Street money to Democratic campaigns in exchange for support of school privatization? Alderman Burns (the President’s local political protégé) will not do so for obvious reasons. I hope that you will consider a run against the plutocrats who currently control the Democratic Party in Illinois. The citizens of Woodlawn where I live are sickened by what is happening to their neighborhood schools. An insurgent candidate for governor could gain the support of disaffected Democrats of many stripes.

All the best,

Paul Horton

History teacher

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