Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2016 Presidential Election and Public Education

I've said this before but it has been one of the saddest issues to watch over President Obama's two terms as President - seeing his Secretary of State, Arne Duncan, in action.

What comes next?  First, consider this statement (which is true):

“There’s nothing else as large in all of society. Not the military—nothing—is bigger.”

 That’s how Randy Best, Jeb Bush’s business partner, sees public education, as an untapped market where untold billions are to be made when kids and their families become educational customers.  

While national security and the economy will dominate the election season, the two other issues of immigration (somewhat both about national security and the economy) and public education will likely come up frequently (at least for the Republicans who I perceive can score points by denouncing Common Core).


I won't go thru all the Republican candidates (the Sweet 16) but you can generally say this:
  • it's likely that the majority of them would get rid of/lessen the power of Common Core.   (But you could also see candidates supporting PARCC or SBAC tests but not Common Core like Governor Chris Christie.)
  • it's likely that the majority of them would support expansion of charter schools (the new NCLB puts in a lot more money for them)
  • it's likely that the majority of them would push vouchers to allow parents to get a voucher to send their child to any school, public or private.  (The early methodology on this is to give Sped parents vouchers and then expand out.)
Jeb Bush, by far, is the most dangerous candidate for public education because of his long-time interest in it (for which I give him credit).  But Florida was his place to experiment and the outcomes were not good.  (I note that like Bush, Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, also allowed his state to be used as a public education petri dish.  As well, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin positively crows over his efforts to stomp the teachers union in that state.)  From Salon:

Touting his impressive assault on public education while Florida governor in yesterday’s announcement of his 2016 candidacy, Bush may become the loudest proponent yet of turning public education into a for-profit enterprise.

During his eight years as governor, Jeb Bush was a leader in dismantling public education. Detailed in a January New Yorker article by Alec MacGillis, Bush’s push for for-profit education has been the former governor’s passion, and those looking to profit on children will likely fall in behind him as presidential candidate.

Then we have the Democrat candidates - Hillary Clinton, Lincoln Chafee, Martin O'Malley and Jim Webb.  Joe Biden is in the wings.  Bernie Sanders is an Independent.

Hillary Clinton

Sadly, Clinton's website only mentions education in passing and even that is about higher education.  She has four "fights" but public education doesn't figure in any of them.  Puzzling.

I fear that front-runner Clinton would not be much better than Obama.  She has been a bit confusing on her stands.  In 2007 she criticized NCLB over its testing (although she voted for it in 2001).  

According to The Intercept, last year Clinton accepted nearly a quarter of a million dollars for a speaking engagement:

...on behalf of Academic Partnerships, a for-profit education company in which Jeb Bush held (at the time) an ownership stake and on whose board he served.

Academic Partnerships assists universities in converting their academic degree programs into online versions that can be taken by students around the world.
According to EdWeek, there is certainly a long history to examine for Clinton, starting from when she was First Lady of Arkansas in the '80s.  As well, when she was in the Senate, she pushed for pre-K and supported expansion of Pell grants.

Bernie Sanders

Sanders' website also does not mention public education.  Bernie Sanders is a frequent critic of Race to the Top.

Martin O'Malley

Martin O'Malley's website talks about public education but thru the lens of higher ed (it's pretty extensive).  O'Malley had his hands full, both as governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore, with public education. 

Martin O'Malley also pushed freezing tuition rates for colleges in his state as well as a program so that public college students could graduate without debt.  He also supports charter schools and Common Core.

Lincoln Chafee

Chafee's website does not talk about public education at all.  According to Ballotpedia,  Lincoln Chafee froze tuition in Rhode Island colleges for three years.  His state was also only one of nine to get a RttT Early Learning grant.  Chafee also expressed concern over charter school outcomes after reading an article by Diane Ravitch.

According to Ballotpedia,  Lincoln Chafee froze tuition in Rhode Island colleges for three years.  His state was also only one of nine to get a RttT Early Learning grant.  Chafee also expressed concern over charter school outcomes after reading an article by Diane Ravitch.

Jim Webb
Webb's website only mentions schools as part of the national physical infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt.   (One aside; Webb's is the most folksy of all of them and it almost seems like he wrote most of it.)

I did a spot-check of several Republican candidates' webpages - Christie, Huckabee and Carson all talk about K-12 public education.  Donald Trump does not.

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