While attending both presidential conventions was exhilarating and exciting, I returned feeling not only feeling exhausted but as if I had been in a bubble for two weeks.
Although I wrote four blogs from the conventions, listened to the speeches and read the respective platforms, I saw little difference between the two parties with respect to education - especially in regard to school choice. In fact, an article in Education Week points out many of the areas of agreement. The author, Alyson Klein, also printed both parties’ education platforms.
Another article on boston.com, Waiting for the Candidates to Debate Education, by Jim Stergios, outlines the difficulties faced by both parties in articulating their positions, and argues for clarity from both of them.
My wishes for the two parties? They’re simple:
• That the Democrats stop substituting government for associations, and not insist that the government is the glue that holds us together. Our rich store of associations means that what holds us together is a lot deeper and nimble than any government bureaucracy. We just need to find how to leverage these American qualities—especially when the alternative is to undertake policies that break three federal laws.
• That the Republicans provide a real alternative to the Democrats’ vision of a centralized Ministry of Education, but not simply based on a vision of individual choice—however important that is. While “Won’t Back Down” is inspirational, and its clear emphasis on parental association and bootstrapping may prove a big addition to urban school reform, a major party needs more than that. They need a vision.
Chicago Teachers’ Strike
There’s lots of room for debate about the Chicago teachers’ strike, which should be of concern to people throughout the nation. The issue of teacher evaluations based on high stakes testing -- a major issue in Chicago -- is playing out in every state. But it is certainly not a justification for striking, especially where the poorest and most vulnerable children and families are being hurt by the school lockout.
The union’s deaf ear to the economic context – where so many are out of work -- is forcing some parents to choose between staying home and watching their kids in a dangerous city or losing their jobs.
My observation as a central office administrator in a large suburban district was that parents love their teachers but have had enough of unions. This is an issue that will undoubtedly have national repercussions.
The New York Times presented the different arguments in its Room for Debate section
The following two articles, one on Huffington Post and the other in Education Week, point out the ways that disadvantaged students are being harmed by the strike.