Marc Bousquet in the Chronicle of Higher Education proposes that a liberal Republican who supports sensible and sound policies for public education could defeat President Obama in 2012.
I think he’s essentially right: a liberal Republican could win in 2012. While I don’t think a sensible education policy alone would cinch it, I think it would be a good foundation and win a candidate support from countless beleaguered families across the nation who have seen their kids’ schools ravaged by imperious and punitive ed reforms.
Teachers and their unions would also likely embrace a saner education policy. (You can add to the Obama legacy the end of the nation’s history of teachers union support of Democratic Party candidates. Obama’s teacher-bashing policies as pushed by Ed Secretary Arne Duncan and his Broad-trained and Gates-funded minions and cheered on by the odious L.A. Times have damaged Democratic Party-teacher relations beyond repair. Yet another segment of the Democratic Party’s base that’s been betrayed by this presidency. This one is more serious than just the mere loss of individual votes because unions have traditionally provided foot soldiers and funding for political campaigns.)
Many progressive and even moderate voters continue to feel deeply betrayed by Obama’s non-liberal and downright right-wing, pro-corporate positions. For public school parents like myself, Obama’s continuation and worsening of the most punitive elements of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind (aka the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001) and the goosestepping towards privatization of our schools thanks to his close association with billionaire ed reformers with zero background in education, and filling his ed dept with their proteges, have been shocking.
What’s more, and I’ll say it again: These ed reforms DO NOT WORK. Charters, merit pay, high-stakes testing and curriculum standardization are not closing any achievement gap but are creating a chasm of mediocrity, stress, uniformity and resegregation in our schools.
Also, many of these so-called reforms are highly undemocratic — mayoral control of school districts (one need only look at billionaire Mayor-for-Life Bloomberg’s ramrodding appointment of the unqualified Cathie Black to school chancellor in NYC, over public protest, for an example of this), imperious superintendents mass-firing teachers and ignoring parent and community input, ed reformers with privatizing agendas funding school board campaigns of pro-corporate, pro-reform sympathizers to stack the deck in their agenda’s favor (San Diego, Seattle, and now Michelle Rhee’s new “Students First” enterprise is poised to do even more of this PAC work on a large scale — pro-privatizer Eli Broad has already announced he will help fund it).
This isn’t about students. This is about politics and profit.
If Barack Obama has any inclination at all to win back the countless communities, teachers and parents whom he has disenfranchised with his destructive ed policies, he should not renew NCLB and should toss the thing entirely and start again. And he should immediately stop the insane ed reform policies that are scapegoating and firing principals, teachers and closing schools.
Otherwise, he and his corporate reformer friends, from NYC to DC to Seattle, will see themselves going the way of soon-to-be-former Mayor Adrian Fenty, and his widely despised, recently resigned Chancellor Michelle Rhee.
Okay, /soapbox, here’s the post. (Bold emphasis in Patrick Sullivan’s speech mine.) — sue p.
December 9, 2010, 2:47 pm
Patrick J. Sullivan: “The people who control our schools … don’t send their own kids to these schools. They have one idea of education for our kids and an entirely different one for their own. The core principle of the Bloomberg administration … is condescension: … one idea for their children and a different idea … for everybody else.”
Nelson Rockefeller, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon. What would it take for the Republicans to send Obama home in 2012? The Republican party can steal Obama’s second term if party leadership has the nerve to put forward a liberal Republican willing to make and keep a single promise: No more than 12 students per class, in every public institution from kindergarten to graduate school.
We’ll invest in education until our public institutions have student-faculty ratios that exceed those of the boarding school that incoming New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black chose for her own kids.
The slogan “12 in 2012″ isn’t a one-stop fix for all that ails education. As a game-changing simple promise, however, it could be a long-overdue intervention in a conversation that’s gone down a rat-hole of dishonesty and propaganda.
It’s a jobs creation bill. It transcends ethnicity, religion, and class. It targets Obama at his Achilles’ heel, delivering the largest bipartisan constituency in the country: educators, students, and parents.
Here’s your litmus test: Upper East Side parent Patrick J. Sullivan, active in Class Size Matters and NYC Public School Parents, who serves on the powerless New York City Panel for Education Policy (eight of the 13 members are directly appointed by the Mayor).
IMHO, any Republican that can honestly answer and satisfy Sullivan’s outrage below can steal Obama’s second term:
I represent the borough of Manhattan on what the mayor calls the Panel for Educational Policy but what is in the law the Board of Education of the City of New York. I see here today parents and their elected leaders and I see teachers from every borough. I see them from every race and I see them from every income level and from every political party. Why is that?
Because I’ve learned from talking to people is that every parent wants to the same thing for their kids: They want a rich curriculum, they want an experienced teacher, they want small classes, and they want room for their kids in their schools.
But what have I learned from sitting on the Board of Educaiton for three years? I’ve learned that instead of schools, we’re going to build a billion-dollar police academy. Instead of a rich curriculum, we get test prep and drilling in math and ELA. Instead of small classes, we get our kids packed 28, 30, 35, 40 in a class and that’s wrong.
But the worst of all this is the people who control our schools, the people who run our schools, the Mayor, the Chancellor, the Regents, they don’t send their own kids to these schools. They have one idea of education for our kids and an entirely different one for their own.
Beyond autonomy, beyond accountability, beyond privatization, the core principle of the Bloomberg administration when it comes to education is condescension: the idea that there’s one idea of education for their children and a totally different idea of education for everybody else’s, and that’s what has to stop.