Hillary Clinton blew me away today. Honestly, I had been personally trending towards Bernie Sanders. I even tagged along last night to #FeelTheBern at a Las Vegas campaign rally. However, I was disappointed again that that Bernie said nothing about education besides that he will press for free college— which I do realize is a big deal considering the mountains of debt many students these days are facing (See my family’s story in the post Lily’s Blackboard: Dimming the American Dream with Debt).
But still nothing on K-12. In The Progressive Magazine I expressed my dismay that the Democratic candidates completely ignored K-12 education in their first debate in Las Vegas (See Education needs to be on the agenda at the Iowa Debate). The Republicans are up next on the debate circuit. I have accepted an outside assignment to cover education in the Republican debate tomorrow, so look out for that piece on Thursday.
So back to being blown away… In early October I Tweeted a question… I longingly hoped Hillary would leave behind top-down, private control reforms and instead move to a new community-based reform agenda.
Even earlier, in September, I had a gut feeling that Hillary might trend away from private control reformers.
I got skewered by my Twitter followers.
Well, today the Washington Post Answer sheet excerpted comments from Roland Martin’s recent conversation with Hillary Clinton— charters and vouchers came up in the conversation.
Here is the conversation excerpted by the Answer Sheet:
CLINTON: I have for many years now, about 30 years, supported the idea of charter schools, but not as a substitute for the public schools, but as a supplement for the public schools. And what I have worked on through my work with the Children’s Defense Fund and my work on education in Arkansas and through my time as first lady and senator is to continue to say charter schools can have a purpose, but you know there are good charter schools and there are bad charter schools, just like there are good public schools and bad public schools.
MARTIN: So let’s get rid of all the bad….
CLINTON: But the original idea, Roland, behind charter schools was to learn what worked and then apply them in the public schools. And here’s a couple of problems. Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation, because they do, thankfully, take everybody, and then they don’t get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child’s education.
So I want parents to be able to exercise choice within the public school system — not outside of it — but within it because I am still a firm believer that the public school system is one of the real pillars of our democracy and it is a path for opportunity.
But I am also fully aware that there are a lot of substandard public schools. But part of the reason for that is that policymakers and local politicians will not fund schools in poor areas that take care of poor children to the level that they need to be. And you can get me going on this…. I mean, the corridor of shame right here in South Carolina, you get on there and you can see schools that are literally falling apart. I’ve been in some of those schools. I have seen the terrible physical conditions. That is an outrage. It is a rebuke to who we are as Americans to send any child to a school that you wouldn’t send your own child to.
And so we’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure that public schools serve people, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also provide options within the system so that parents can find what they think might work best for their kid.
So it appears that Hillary is cognizant of the critiques of private control of public dollars via charters that were pressed by both Bush and Obama. (See all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts on charters here.)
I realize many thought we were going down an enlightened road with Obama in 2008 (I even served on the Obama campaign’s national education policy committee) only to have the rug pulled out from under us with the appointment of Arne Duncan (See A Top Ten of @ArneDuncan Inanity: Obama’s Basketball Buddy Drops Ball on Ed). But I also realize that the Republicans I will be watching tomorrow in the debate are whole hog top-down, private control and privatization education “reform” proponents (What happened to local control?).
So just WOW Hillary. It’s a start. I’d like to hear more about high-stakes testing, Common Core, teacher evaluation, the school-to-prison pipeline, multiple measure accountability etc (See also Top 10 Education Questions for 2016 Presidential Candidates) But, Hillary has me hopeful today.
What’s your next move Bernie Sanders?
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