Archives for category: Support for public schools

Over 600 faculty and staff at Penn have organized Penn for PILOTS and issued a statement calling on the university to make “payments in lieu of taxes” (PILOTs) to the Philadelphia public schools. As is well known, the public schools in Philadelphia are chronically underfunded, thanks to a hostile Republican legislature, and they are currently facing devastating cuts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Penn is the largest property owner in Philadelphia and the only Ivy League university that doesn’t pay PILOTs. Calls for PILOTs have surfaced for years, but support for the idea has now reached an unprecedented level. A significant number of Penn faculty and staff believe that it is time for the university to pay its fair share for public schools.

As the organizing statement of the group says, Penn is the seventh wealthiest university in the nation, and the Philadelphia schools are among the poorest in the nation.

This is the petition of the organizers. The statement begins:

We are faculty and staff at the University of Pennsylvania who believe that Penn has a responsibility to ensure adequate funding for the Philadelphia public schools. Penn is the largest property owner in the city of Philadelphia, but as a non-profit institution, it pays no property taxes on its non-commercial properties. In other words, it contributes nothing to the tax base that funds Philadelphia’s public school system—this in a city whose schools are underfunded and facing deep budget cuts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Commitment

Penn should contribute to an Educational Equity Fund governed by the school district and city of Philadelphia. These would be payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs)—a fraction of what Penn would owe if it were subject to property tax assessment. We commit ourselves to seeing our university pay its fair share.

Nearly every other Ivy League university already makes payments in lieu of taxes. Penn would be joining the ranks of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, and Dartmouth in recognizing its financial obligation to the community of which it is a part.

The supporters of this demand explain their rationale:

This is not a matter of charity but of justice. Penn’s tax exemption is predicated on the notion that it is a non-profit institution that exists to fulfill a public purpose, not a for-profit corporation that exists to accumulate capital. That distinction must be made meaningful. Today, Penn is the seventh richest university in the country. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has the highest poverty rate of the ten largest cities in the United States. If Penn’s public mission is to have any meaning at all, the university must not be an exemplar or engine of urban inequality.

Yet the existing system of public finance ensures that Penn benefits from city services that it does not pay to maintain. Penn’s administrators, faculty, and staff rely on city schools, sanitation services, transportation, and other programs. Penn’s location in the city of Philadelphia is one of its defining characteristics that enables the university to attract faculty and students. When the university does not pay for the services and environment that make its work possible, other Philadelphians are left to make up the difference—or city schools and other institutions simply go without. Penn has a duty to contribute to the city that sustains it.

Here is their list of frequently asked questions.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about this remarkable movement.

I salute the faculty and staff at Penn who support this movement. The financial condition of the Philadelphia public schools is dire. They need all the help they can get. In this age on intense individualism and greed, it is wonderful to see people acting with a sense of social responsibility.

Please read the NPE Action endorsement of Joe Biden for President.

We support public schools.

Donald Trump and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, are hostile to the very idea of public schools. They have spent three years proposing deep cuts to public education and attempting to establish federally-funded vouchers for private and religious schools.

In contrast, Joe Biden has proposed dramatic increases in funding to public schools by tripling the amount that Title I schools would receive. He has voiced strong support for more counselors and psychologists in our schools, as well as increased funding for high-quality pre-kindergarten programs. He supports community schools that link social services and the school together to serve children and their families better.

At the Public Education Forum held in Pittsburgh in December of 2019, Joe Biden was asked by NPE Board member Denisha Jones if he would commit to ending standardized testing in schools. His unequivocal response was, “Yes. You are preaching to the choir.” He said to a national audience that “teaching to a test underestimates and discounts the things that are most important for students to know.” He described evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students as a “big mistake.”

At the same public forum in Pittsburgh, he was dismissive of the policies of Secretary of Education DeVos, saying that under his administration, “Betsy DeVos’s whole notion of charter schools…are gone.”

The public statements expressed by Joe Biden encourage us to believe that he does not intend to follow the disastrous education policies of the Obama years included in Race to the Top, which were closely aligned with the failed policies of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind.

We are taking candidate Joe Biden at his word. We believe that he recognizes that Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind were harmful to our schools and our children.

However, if those policies re-emerge, we will vigorously oppose them. We will also continue to be engaged in monitoring the words of both candidates and their parties’ platforms.

We urge our supporters and all friends of public education to go to the polls in November and vote for Joe Biden. The future of our public schools and our democracy is at stake.

In the words of NPE Action President, Diane Ravitch, “We support Joe Biden because he has promised to reverse the failed “test-and-punish” federal policies of the past two decades. For the sake of our children, their teachers, our public schools, and our democracy, Trump must go.”

Charles Foster Johnson, leader of Pastors for Texas Children, reports on the election results and their implications for public schools:

2018 Texas Midterm Election Analysis for Public Education

Thanks to a groundswell of grassroots advocacy efforts during the 2018 electoral season, the Texas Legislature has taken a dramatic step toward the support of universal public education for all children.

The Texas Senate, misled by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, took a demonstrable step away from the narrow anti-public fringe and toward an embrace of their constitutional responsibility to “make suitable provision for public free schools.” A key pro-public education moderate Republican from Amarillo withstood a vicious primary attack from Patrick’s rightwing forces in the spring, and two of his Tea Party allies were replaced with pro-pub education Democrats in Fort Worth and Dallas this week. This effectively strips Patrick of his supermajority of 19 votes required by Senate rules to bring a bill to the floor for a vote.

What this means is that privatization policies will have a much harder time making it past the Senate in the upcoming 2019 legislative session. These bad ideas have prevailed in the Senate, due to Patrick’s strong-arm tactics, only to be squashed by the more moderate Texas House, but Tuesday’s election results make this strategy far less likely.

On the House side, Democrats picked up twelve seats, bringing their total to 67 of 150 members of that chamber. This all but ensures the election of a moderate Speaker of the House like Joe Straus, who is retiring in January. Speaker Straus’ deft leadership helped block Patrick’s voucher and bathroom bills last session. The House is marked by a creative and dynamic alliance of rural Republicans and urban Democrats unified in their opposition to vouchers, troubled by the proliferation of charters, and committed to structural increases in school funding.

An unsung positive sign for public education in Texas was the close race that Mike Collier ran against Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor. With little money or name recognition, Collier waged a robust pro-public education race, and lost by less than four percentage points. This serves a terse notice to Patrick that his anti-public education platform is crumbling.

The cherry on the cake is the passage of key school bond and funding measures in several urban centers.

There is a wonderful resurgence of support for our neighborhood and community public schools in Texas. Public education emerged as the most vocal, visible issue in the midterm campaigns. Those who ran unabashedly in support of it won handily, and those who sounded an uncertain trumpet lost. It is crystal clear that Texans love their public schools, and are prepared to support elected officials who represent them in this conviction—and retire those who don’t.

In recent years, Oklahoma has been a reliably Republican State, but this year may be different because of the state’s teacher uprising.

John Thompson writes here about the way that teachers and parents who want the state to invest in education are upending the Governor’s race.

He writes:

“In Oklahoma, the governor’s race would ordinarily result in a solid victory for an enthusiastic Trump supporter like Republican Kevin Stitt, who brandishes a “100 percent Pro-Life score” and an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.

“But this year’s focus on education could turn the election for Stitt’s competitor, veteran Democrat Drew Edmondson, who trails by only four points, according to a recent poll.

“This year’s focus on education could turn the election for Democrat Drew Edmondson.
At a recent forum, Stitt has evaded the question of how he would fund a teacher pay raise without raising taxes. Edmondson, in contrast, committed to a $300 to $350 million annual increase for education, funded by taxes on oil and gas production, removing a capital gains exemption for high-income taxpayers, and a 50-cent tax hike on cigarettes.

“Asked about this difference in strategy, Edmondson’s campaign manager Michael Clingman said in an email, “the lack of specificity in Kevin Stitt’s messages is troubling. Teachers marched on the Oklahoma Capitol last April demanding real solutions, not vague promises….”

“Stitt is basing much of his campaign on running government like a publicly-traded company—setting performance metrics for state governance and holding subordinates accountable for measurable outputs. Drawing from his experience as the founder and CEO of Gateway Mortgage Group, Stitt describes his program as “performance metrics=accountability, efficiency and results.” He promises to fire underperformers.

“But some of the “performance metrics” from his own company don’t look so good, as revealed in an ongoing legal controversy over questionable mortgage lending practices. His company originated subprime mortgages to homebuyers who may not have qualified for traditional loans (a hearing on the Lehman Brothers suit against Gateway is set for October 29 in the Southern District of the New York Bankruptcy Court.)

“Gateway has been called one of “the 15 shadiest mortgage lenders being backed by the government.” It paid fines in three states and was penalized in five for using unlicensed lenders. Gateway lost its license and signed a consent order barring it from seeking another lender or broker license in Georgia.

“Oklahoma educators have had enough of outsiders imposing their untested opinions on classrooms. Since the walkouts this spring, over 100 current or former teachers and family members of teachers have run for local, state, and federal office in Oklahoma. Only four of the nineteen Republicans who voted against raising taxes to increase teacher pay remain in the running. Edmondson is benefiting from the energy generated by women such as congressional candidate Kendra Horn, and a record number of high-profile female teacher-candidates.

“Stitt was a no show for a recent candidate forum, where education issues were discussed. In contrast, Edmondson attended every day of the nine-day teacher walkout this April.”

Will teachers and parents “Remember in November?”

At last, a gubernatorial candidate who wants to rebuild public education and throw out the profiteers, frauds, and grifters! Voters in Florida have a chance to clean the Augean stables and elect a great Governor for public education!

The Network for Public Educatuon Action Fund is thrilled to endorse Andrew Gillum for Governor of Florida!

The Network for Public Education Action is proud to announce its endorsement of Andrew Gillum for Governor of Florida.

Andrew Gillum is a strong supporter of public education and he calls Florida’s corporate school reforms “a failure.” He has proposed a $1 billion increase in funding for public schools, which would include a minimum starting salary of $50,000 for teachers and an expansion of Pre-K opportunities.
Mr. Gillum believes that high-stakes testing reforms have failed our students and schools.

When it comes to charter schools and vouchers, Andrew Gillum had the following to say:

“Charter schools have a record of waste and unaccountability that we would never tolerate from public schools. Yet, our state’s education budget continues rewarding charter schools at the expense of public schools; for example, the 2018-19 budget allocates $145 million to charter school maintenance — three times the amount allocated to public schools. As a product of Florida’s public schools, I believe we make a promise to our state’s children to provide high-quality, accessible, public schools. We weaken that promise every time we divert taxpayer funds into private and religious education that benefits some students, but not all.”

On November 6, please cast your vote for Andrew Gillum.

EdWeek has a good article about the number of teachers who are running (or ran) for office this year. I guess the slogan is, “If you can’t persuade them, run against them.” According to the article, 158 educators filed for state offices.

In Oklahoma, 64 teachers ran for office. 37 lost their primary; 15 won; and 12 were unopposed. In Kentucky, 20 teachers ran for office, and only five lost their primary.

Teachers have figured out that they have to be “in the room where it happens” (to paraphrase the song from “Hamilton”).

The National Education Association has helped novice candidates. Good for NEA!

Through its See Educators Run program, a series of trainings for NEA members seeking local or state-level office, the nation’s largest teachers’ union is tapping into this political moment.

The organization hopes to create a “candidate pipeline” for members, said Carrie Pugh, NEA’s political director. “[We felt] like our voices weren’t being represented.”

For many of these first-time candidates, the union offers a gateway into the messy world of politics.

NEA launched the program in 2017, but the number of applications nearly doubled after this spring.

See Educators Run has held three trainings since 2017 and graduated about 200 educators. Any NEA member who is running for office, or considering a run, can apply for a space, and the program is free for participants. The two-day program was designed to cover the basics of running a campaign “soup to nuts,” said Pugh.

While See Educators Run is nonpartisan, Pugh says that the program seeks out candidates who are “values-aligned”: supportive of funding for public schools, collective bargaining rights, and accountability measures for charter schools. The NEA also requires that local unions sign off on candidates’ applications, as affiliates share the cost of training with the national organization. Training facilitators have backgrounds in politics: They’ve worked on campaigns or for organizations like Emily’s List and Emerge that train Democratic candidates to run for office.

Topics ran the gamut from high-level strategy (how do you craft a campaign message?) to the granular details of social-media communications (how often should you post to your candidate Facebook page?).

In one session, candidates learned how to devise a field plan for their race, calculating their vote goals and the number of volunteers needed to meet them. Parts of the process read like algebra homework: If one volunteer can knock on 15 to 20 doors an hour, and you need to knock on 1,021 doors, how many volunteers do you need to sign up for two-hour shifts?

“I knew that you had to look at registered voters and things like that,” said Thomas Denton, a retired teacher from Kentucky considering a run for state legislature. “But exactly how to crunch those numbers is what’s being answered here.”
Several candidates said fundraising would be their biggest challenge.’

Know campaign-finance law inside and out, trainers told the candidates: Research the legal limits for how much individuals can contribute and the contribution filing deadlines.

In sessions, participants paired up to practice cold-calling for donations. The big takeaway? Make a clear, specific ask—even if it’s uncomfortable.

Kyla Lawrence, an assistant principal in North Little Rock, Ark., who plans to run for a seat in the state’s house of representatives in 2020, said she would have to mentally prepare to make a lot of those calls, especially to bigger donors. As a teacher, it often feels “like you don’t have the financial status to play in this arena,” she said.

Candidates were also encouraged to reference the #RedforEd movement, which became a clarion call for educators during statewide strikes this spring, while campaigning. Trainers encouraged them to talk about collective action with constituents—especially other educators—and wear the trademark bright red shirt at town halls.

The message that campaigns should champion public education resonated with Carol Fleming, a speech-language pathologist in Little Rock, Ark., who plans to run for a seat in House District 38 in 2020.

But she won’t be mentioning #RedForEd by name in her campaign, she said. In Arkansas, ” ‘strike’ is a word that you do not use.”

For many candidates in attendance, this spring’s statewide strikes were inspiring but not necessarily the catalyst for running.

Lakilia Budeau, the director of a youth-services center for Paducah public schools in Kentucky, said protests across her state reinforced her notion that she could govern better than the legislators currently in office. But she had already thought about a run for state representative before this spring.

“I’m just tired of [legislators] not having their students’ and families’ interests at heart,” she said.

Candidates said the union’s role in their campaigns wouldn’t end after they left the training.

Several plan to count on their local associations as major sources of volunteer and financial support.

Save Our Schools Arizona is a group founded by public school parents to fight the expansion of vouchers.

Prop 305 is a referendum that will appear on the state ballot in November. It calls for the universal expansion of vouchers so that all students can use public money to attend private and religious schools with taxpayers’ dollars.

Parents are fighting this. They fought the Koch brothers in court to get this referendum on the ballot.

This video explains what the issues are and why you should vote NO to support public schools, the schools that belong to everyone.

Voucher schools are not transparent and not accountable. Every dollar that goes to an ESA is taken away from public schools.

Vote NO!

Here are a few of the lessons I take away from the crucial Virginia elections. You may have others. Feel free to chime in.

First, the Trump message of ”American carnage” (the theme of his inaugural address) failed. Appeals to fear didn’t work. The blatant and latent warnings about crime, immigration, race, and insecurity lost. Virginians Close hope over fear.

Second, Trump phony themes of patriotism, delivered by references to athletes taking a knee and sacred Confederate statues, were not enough to overcome opposition to Trump and Trumpism. Voters are not dumb. They see through the smokescreen.

Third, Democrats win by uniting their base, including parents and teachers. Northam spoke positively about Virginia’s public schools and promised to reduce the burden of testing, to expand early childhood education, and to improve teachers’ Salaries. Not a word about charters or choice.

His pledge:

“Our kids deserve to go to schools where they feel safe and get the highest quality education. We can’t allow the Trump Administration to destroy the success of Virginia’s public schools, public universities, or community college system. Ralph will fight to defend our public schools and will support classroom innovation to develop new methods of teaching our kids the skills they need for a 21st century economy.

“As a member of the Children’s Cabinet, Dr. Northam and the McAuliffe administration are helping our most challenged schools combat chronic absenteeism and poor academic performance — but there’s still work to do. The commonwealth of Virginia spends, on average, $80 million per year to remediate students in kindergarten through third grade. We need to reevaluate how we test our youngest students and ensure we’re putting them on track for success at the beginning of their academic careers. A big part of addressing this issue is making sure quality pre-K is available to all young Virginians — though it also involves challenging conventional methods of student assessments and alternatives to having students repeat grades at early ages.”

There is more.

Every Democratic Candidate in 2018 should read Dr. Notham’s commonsense approach to education.

This report comes from a parent activist in Dallas, which held its school board election on Saturday (yesterday).

UPDATE: Kirkpatrick beat Marshall by 300 votes but fell short of 50%, and there will be a runoff. The future of Dallas’s failed corporate reform hinges on this race. Great that Kirkpatrick came in ahead of businessman Dustin Marshall. And fabulous that dedicated board member Joyce Foreman was re-elected!

Read what follows with knowledge that Lori Kirkpatrick came in first and is going into a runoff with Marshall.

“Great news from Dallas, Texas to report. Public school advocate, and tireless Dallas ISD trustee Joyce Foreman has retained her seat on the school board in today’s elections.

Also, public school advocate and parent Lori Kirkpatrick has won a seat on the Dallas ISD school board. In a runoff for the same seat last year, Dustin Marshall won by only 42 votes against Mita Havlick, another parent and public school advocate.

Marshall, a business person who lost this time around, is in favor of the district’s pay for performance (TEI) initiative, the proposed Texas Education Agency A-F campus grading system, expanded school choice, and, would you believe it, vouchers. He has also been heavily involved with Uplift Education, the largest charter operator in Texas. A textbook deformer.

Marshall, of course won the endorsement of the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board for being a “vocal supporter of the Teacher Excellence Initiative, the district’s evaluation system, as an effective way to measure effective teachers and hold them accountable for improving student outcomes. The DMN editorial writers still don’t get it, will probably never get it. But this time around, their candidate lost. Yay!

Kirkpatrick, the winner, states in a Dallas Morning News questionnaire, that “I am running for office because public education is under fierce attack. I expect my trustee to be committed to DISD and public education. I am 100% committed to DISD as evidenced by the fact that I send my daughter to DISD. This is in stark comparison to my opponent who has school-aged children all of whom are in private school. Additionally, I am opposed to diverting public money to private schools, unlike my opponent who voted against a resolution opposing vouchers and the A-F grading system.”

Further, she states, “Teachers with whom I have met feel very deflated due to the TEI evaluation system. I understand from them that many of their colleagues have left and won’t return due to this system. Teachers deserve to be paid fairly for the extraordinarily difficult job of educating our children. I will work to ensure we provide a fair evaluation system and thus pay so that we can maintain a quality educator at the helm of every classroom…..I think (TEI) is deeply flawed and needs a major overhaul. It is a factor in poor teacher morale, teacher turnover and hurts DISD when it comes to attracting new teachers. Education must remain a collaborative endeavor and should not artificially cap the number of teachers that can reach the top ratings, thus incentivizing those with less experience and those just becoming experienced while leaving the truly experienced teachers without the same opportunity to advance and gain fair compensation.”

This powerfully written article by John Connally appears on Kirkpatrick’s website. It deserves to be quoted in its entirety.

“I attended the recent debate between the two main candidates for Dallas ISD District 2 at Mata Montessori School.

On one side of the stage, Lori Kirkpatrick, a physician assistant at Parkland Hospital; on the other, businessman and incumbent Dustin Marshall. The debate was quite brief but still revealed a striking, if by now familiar, distinction between two visions for public education.

Kirkpatrick spoke of the gift of public education to society, conveyed an empathy for schoolteachers working under hostile conditions, and underlined the cost to society of not providing teachers and students with the necessary resources and support.

In contrast, Marshall expressed concern over an apparent mismatch between teacher evaluations and student test scores, and focused on the need to craft incentives to drive below average teachers out of the profession and expose “failing” schools. (According to this logic, parents would then have the knowledge required to choose between public schools — as if the choice of where to locate one’s family is comparable to choosing between two different colored apples at the grocery store.)

This hard-nosed business approach to overseeing schools actually has a long-failed history. Yet it’s an irony that, no matter the facts and evidence, this same approach is pursued relentlessly by those very people who portray themselves as objective and rational.

Why is it that this business-driven approach to public education has such a failed history? One reason is that treating teachers as self-serving individuals driven only by monetary incentives to achieve high class test scores can lead some to respond in kind by gaming the system to save their jobs. Notorious and extreme examples of this have been documented in places like Baltimore, Washington, and Atlanta.

But the more general answer to this question was given by the renowned scholar, James Q. Wilson. Public schools are not “production” or “procedural” organizations but what Wilson called “coping” organizations. This means that their operational activities and outputs are not easy to observe or measure. This is an intrinsic characteristic of public schools. To think of a public school as some kind of black box with well-defined measurable inputs and outputs is a pretense; indeed, a dangerous and dehumanizing pretense given all the students in danger of being tagged as failures at an early stage in life.

There is a further irony here. All this emphasis on test scores, rote learning, and impersonal teaching, is only advocated for students in public schools. For students in private schools it’s often just the opposite: intramural sports, Shakespeare, and joyful inquiry, sometimes taught by outstanding former public school teachers who reluctantly fled the system to escape the mind-numbing obsession with constant assessment, monitoring and micro-management.

It’s therefore not surprising that the issue of public v. private schools has come up in the race between Kirkpatrick and Marshall; in particular, concerning why the incumbent, Marshall, chooses to send his own children to a private school while promoting himself as the best qualified person to be public school trustee for Dallas ISD District 2.

Marshall took umbrage at the suggestion his decision had any kind of broader significance, explaining that he sent his children to the same private school he attended and of which he had such fond memories, claiming that one of his motivations in running for office is to help others experience the same positive start that he had at a private school.

Of course, from the perspective of a private citizen, where one chooses to send one’s children is one’s own business, and there are plenty of circumstantial reasons one can think of as to why parents may choose not to send their child to the local public school.
But what does it mean — as a matter of public policy — to view one’s private school experience as a kind of ideal to which public schools should aspire? Public schools differ in crucial ways from private schools.

Unlike private schools, public schools are subject to elected school boards, class size requirements, building regulations, as well as all kinds of state regulations, such as being required to cater to students with special needs. Teachers in public schools must have state certification and public schools must comply with a state-approved curriculum.

Private schools are not subject to these constraints. Further, private schools are not bound by the U.S. Constitution, including the Bill of Rights. In contrast, public schools have no discretion on such weighty matters.

So while one should not begrudge the incumbent his fond memories of private school, it does not necessarily seem the appropriate kind of experience one should be looking for in a public school trustee.

Interestingly, in his debate with Kirkpatrick, Marshall sought to allay any fear that he was some kind of educational extremist, stating that he disapproved of the recent appointment of Betsy DeVos as United States Secretary of Education.

But why is it so many people agree that DeVos is unqualified? The question was recently put in an interview to Diane Ravitch, former Under Secretary of Education to George H.W. Bush, and a leading national thinker on public education. Ravitch responded (talking about DeVos): “Well, she does not understand anything about education except for escaping from public schools. She’s never taught. She’s never supervised. She’s never attended public schools. Her children did not attend public schools. She thinks that public schools everywhere are just awful …”

If these kinds of criticisms are appropriate of DeVos, are they not also relevant to other candidates for public education posts (like this District 2 Trustee seat) when their experience, both as a parent and student, is limited to that of private schools?

Of course, unlike DeVos, Marshall has not explicitly advocated for vouchers. Indeed it would be foolhardy to do so — the public is strongly against these ideologically-driven social experiments. It is for this reason that Marshall’s opponent, Lori Kirkpatrick, is undoubtedly correct in emphasizing that one needs to look beyond words to specific actions in assessing where one comes down on this highly charged political issue. In this regard, Marshall’s recurring advocacy of competition and school-choice as the panacea to the problems of public schools is significant — student against student, teacher against teacher, school against school. Reward the winners and drop the losers — precisely the kind of thinking that led to the original idea of vouchers.

How did this Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest paradigm come to be seen as appropriate for public education? And how is the system supposed to replace all these supposed “underperforming” teachers that Marshall is so keen to drive out the system? What better and more experienced people are going to choose teaching as working conditions become ever more hostile?

But perhaps that’s not something we should be concerned with. Diane Ravitch points out that many of the “school choice” advocates seem to think that computers can do much of the work formerly done by “inefficient” teachers. Again though, the plan is selective. As Ravitch puts it: “the poor will get computers, the rich will get computers and teachers.”

The truth is that there has always been a battle over two alternative visions for public education. One sees it as essentially about knowledge and enrichment, as education for life as a citizen through the cultivation of independent critical minds, and therefore crucial to a functioning democracy.

The alternative perspective sees public education as serving quite different ends: the sorting of students at an early age to determine their place in society and role in the workforce; the promotion of deference to authority, conformity, passivity, and docility.

The two visions are incompatible. Take your pick.”

John Connolly lives in East Dallas. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science and has several articles published on law, politics, and education.

Postscript to Diane, normally information has been sent about Dallas ISD elections before the vote, but the results have not been favorable for the pro public school candidates. So, the results information is being sent after the vote because there was in fear of jinxing the election. Today was a great day for Dallas ISD.

[I guess my correspondent in Dallas jinxed the outcome by declaring victory before all the votes were counted! Here is hoping that Lori Kirkpatrick can maintain her lead in the runoff and became a member of the DISD board.]

In an interview published in The Hechinger Report, Randi Weingarten expresses her belief that Hillary Clinton will change course from the Obama education policies. She expects that a President Clinton would select a new Secretary of Education, one who shares her expressed belief in strengthening public schools and supporting teachers.

Emmanuel Felton, who conducted the interview, writes:

While teachers unions have long been a key pillar in Democratic Party, they’ve been on the outs with President Barack Obama’s education department. The administration doubled down on Republican President George W. Bush’s educational agenda of holding schools accountable for students’ test scores. Under the administration’s $3 billion School Improvement Grant program, for example, struggling schools had options to implement new accountability systems for teachers, remove staff, be closed or converted into charter schools, the vast majority of which employ non-unionized staff.

These policies devastated some local teachers unions, including Philadelphia’s, which lost 10,000 members during the Obama and Bush administrations. Weingarten expects Clinton to totally upend this agenda, and hopes she won’t reappoint Education Secretary John King, who was just confirmed by the senate in March.

From the day he was elected, President Obama decided to maintain the punitive policies of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and made standardized testing even more consequential. He and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pressed for higher standards, tougher accountability, and more choices, especially charter schools. They used Race to the Top to promote the evaluation of teachers by their students’ test scores, a policy that cost hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars, with nothing to show for it.

Let’s all hope that Hillary Clinton, if elected, will recognize the damage done by the Bush-Obama education agenda and push the “reset” button for a federal policy that helps children, educators, and public schools.