Hats off to Randi Weingarten and Lily Eskelsen Garcia for organizing today’s MSNBC Public Education Forum!

It was a wonderful event, and it was thrilling to see all of the major Democratic candidates competing to win the support of America’s millions of teachers, vowing their love for teachers and their dedication to public schools.

Best of all was that they all recognized that the United States has been underinvesting in education for years, and they pledged to reverse that policy.

It was wonderful to hear the candidates speak about the importance of public education.

It was good to hear Joe Biden attack standardized testing (he forgot all about Race to the Top, as did everyone else).

I was disappointed that Rehema Ellis of NBC asked almost every candidate about NAEP scores, distorting what they meant. She said that only 1/3 of American students are “proficient” in reading, which is true, but NAEP proficiency is not grade level, it represents mastery. It would be wonderful if every student reached mastery, but that has never happened. As long as she threw it out there, she should have followed it up (or candidates should have followed up) by saying, “Doesn’t this statistic show the failure of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core? Doesn’t it show that two decades of federally mandated reforms have failed? Where do we go from here?”

But the follow-up never happened.

What did happen, though, was that every candidate vied to demonstrate their love for public schools and for teachers and their determination to establish equal opportunity and excellent schools for all.

This was a wonderful balm for the soul after years of nay-saying, nitpicking, and teacher-bashing.

No teacher-bashing today.

Just teacher love.

Respect for the mission of public schools.


And it sounded wonderful.