So over at the Democrats for Ed Reform site, the one-hand band that is DFER Washington, Lisa Macfarlane, wrote a column about going to the Democratic National Convention. Coincidentally, I had just watched former President Clinton's barn-burning speech in Charlotte. It was all about a big tent and working together and, most of all, recognizing differences but remaining unified.
That is not the theme in her column. Frankly, we hear a lot of this nagging and ultimately, bullying from Dems in high places. Earlier this year, Nick Hanauer (a big Dem donor and co-founder of LEV) threatened to support McKenna over charters. Macfarlane just goes for the shaming tactic. What is confusing is this idea that one sub-topic (not the whole topic of education but just charter schools) should be their line in the sand whether you are a good Dem or not.
Gentle Washington State readers know that we have a well-deserved
reputation as a laggard when it comes to education reform.
Really? I guess we can wear that proudly because it's not like we haven't considered ed reform. In terms of charters, we did it three times already. That it was not the outcome that she wanted does not make us "laggards". If she's talking about teacher performance, then she's out of touch because Seattle has a brand-new teacher performance matrix and now, this year, so does the entire state.
In our state, Democrats who support the kind of education reforms
championed by President Barack Obama and loads of Democratic governors,
mayors, and lawmakers need serious armor.
That's true but that's loads of non-Washington state governors, mayors and lawmakers. Education is a local control issue and the only person I know who disagrees with that is Michelle Rhee.
She then says this:
The union and Party quickly turn on and eat their own, as they did with
Seattle School Board president, Steve Sundquist and his colleague Peter
Maier. Both Sundquist and Maier lost their school board seats after a
bruising financial scandal and a steady pounding from the labor and
Democratic Party establishment over their support for Teach for America.
First, School Board elections are non-partisan so saying the Dems "turned" on Maier and Sundquist is not true.
That bruising financial scandal? That was both of them looking the other way (and, in Peter's case, not releasing information to other Board members).
This is the first I am hearing that they lost over TFA and if that were the case, why not Carr and Martin-Morris? (That Sundquist told voters he was NOT for charters and then changed his stance almost immediately after the election should tell you something.)
Some days it feels like someone has poisoned our water (more likely our
coffee) or implanted blinders to prevent us from knowing or caring about
what is happening elsewhere in the country. It is like we have been
afflicted with some kind of preserve-the-status-quo virus.
No, I think she has that wrong. Washington State voters are not dumb or blind. In fact, we refuse to drink the kool-aid that other states have. That would make us smart.
Then there is President Barack Obama, our fantastic Reformer-in-Chief.
(See DFER's Infographic: 6 Reasons Why Obama Has Proven Himself
He gets that schools need both reforms and resources. Now we just need
Washington’s democratic policymakers to get the memo. If you want to get
better results for kids, it is not just about more money.
Yes, but Obama also says class size matters and uber-reformer Bill Gates says it doesn't. Good people on the same side can have honest disagreements without being bullied or shamed.
No, it's not just about money but we don't even fund to the national average in Washington State. What if we tried that - with our existing schools that struggle financially - BEFORE bringing on more underfunded schools?
The discussion truly should be about money but that's the tough one. It's very easy to try to distract both voters and law-makers away from that tough discussion to an easier one over "it's for the kids."