This has been an interesting few days in education reform. First the Network for Public Education (NPE) published their qualified endorsement for the ESEA/NCLB reauthorization package entitled the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA). Then, the AFT announced their endorsement of Hillary Cllinton for president.
I will comment briefly on these two endorsements. First, while NPE understandably seeks to provide leadership and guidance for public school supporters, I believe it is problematic to endorse a bill that does little if anything to limit the expansive role of corporations and entrepreneurs intent on, as Chester Finn once said, making a dime in the education sector. An organization’s choice to endorse, or not endorse, or stay silent says a great deal about the organization’s leadership. So, on one hand, I am thankful to know how NPE feels about the current rewrite of ESEA. On the other hand, it makes me question their ability to compromise on so many important issues. This is not an era in which compromise will benefit our nation’s children and public school system. We should not be willing to accept crumbs at the policy table — hoping for something more in the future. That day will never come as long as we elect corporate sponsored neoliberals.
Which leads me to another organization’s statement regarding ECAA: The United Opt Out Movement’s statement: “Why UOO Opposes ESEA(ECAA) and Supports the Necessity of Revolution. There is nothing tepid in UOO’s statement and no compromise. And the Opt Out Movement is making a difference in the policy arena. They are forcing politicians and policy makers to listen through their actions. Corporations and privatizers understand one thing — the bottom line — money. Pearson is feeling the pinch as states reject their tests. I agree with UOO. I will not support a bill that only offers the old adage — “education is a states rights issue.” A lot of damage has been done to children over the decades in the name of states rights. That is not progress. The federal government’s role has, in fact, been to protect our nation’s children from abuses in the name of states rights.
As far as AFT’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton is concerned — well, there should be no surprise there. Randi Weingarten is on the board of Clinton’s PAC — Priorities USA Action. Facebook has been on fire since the announcement of AFT’s endorsement. AFT members are outraged and, although I am not a member of the AFT, I also find it difficult to understand the need for such a premature endorsement of a candidate — except that Weingarten is loyal to one candidate for obvious reasons.