Are you mad at Secretary Clinton about the “school closure” comments? I get it. You don’t want to be Barack Obama’d on education. We were promised hope and change and thought that would extend to education. Instead Arne Duncan took the reigns from George W. Bush, Rod Paige, and Margaret Spellings then did even worse.
I have now watched the video of the Secretary Clinton’s recent Iowa speech where she mentions the closing of below average schools. I honestly don’t think that she was making a policy statement to close half of US schools (that would be every school below some average). If you listen to her comments in the context of everything else, it seems she just misspoke. I know I know. Secretary Clinton doesn’t have a perfect record on progressive education… BUT an Atlantic article recently opined that perhaps Secretary Clinton will run left of Obama because he was this generation’s Reagan. I know I know, you might not like this proposition either. I am still hopeful.
Anyways, if you read the rest of the comments from Secretary Clinton, I liked them. I am actually surprised and glad that she spoke out on education. The problem for us that we are asking candidates to broach education policy in their stump speeches (When I saw Bernie in Las Vegas he didn’t even mention K-12 education), when a candidate does, a single sentence misstep causes a hurricane in the media.
I was actually impressed when A WOW from @HillaryClinton on Charter Schools happened. Some of that was walked back later because she probably should have used the word “many” instead of “most.” That’s debatable, but the research on charters school and equity and inclusion has depth (See Drinking Charter Kool-Aid?: Here is Evidence). I do think the Democratic campaigns are currently open to evidence.
For me I think the real meat of what Hillary wants to do on education is ahead. The Atlantic article signaled in the piece Why America Is Moving Left,
People close to her campaign suggest that among her top agenda items would be paid family leave, debt-free college tuition, and universal preschool.
I like! However, I still think it is important for us to EDUCATE the campaigns through our networks rather than constantly blast them (and the unions) EVERY opportunity that we get. Obama’s biggest problem on education was that he trusted the DFERs, Teach For America and others. It took seven years for him to realize that their private control and privatization education policy is/was an epic boondoggle.
We also need to provide research and information to Howard Dean, Elizabeth Warren and others to make them more aware that the (choice et al) neoliberal education policy elements in the Democratic party are actually representing interests of the Wall Street Wing. See Wall Street and the reformers newest play book here: The Progressive Magazine: A School Crisis.
I am still hopeful that Hillary will listen, evaluate, and turn away from the last decade of failed education “reform” and instead press for democratically controlled reforms (For details see Community-Based Reform and Accountability Measures for States and Communities). So, my personal read so far is that Hillary is not going to Throw Teachers in High Poverty Schools Under the Bus.
Here is the video cued to Hillary’s education comments.
Below are her comments transcribed by the Washington Post, from a more than one-hour speech,
I’m also going to do everything I can to defend education, and to make it clear that the best way to improve elementary and secondary education is to actually listen to the teachers and educators who are in the classrooms with our students and not scapegoat them and treat them like they don’t have any contribution to make.
And I wanna say a word about small rural schools like this one. Because I know that was the original reason that you all got so excited and why you were stalking presidential candidates. [laughter] And I don’t blame you. And I actually looked up some numbers.
Y’know Iowa has one of the best education systems in the country and has had for a long time. And I believe [applause] — Since I grew up in Illinois, we used to take a test they called the Iowa Basic Test, we used to take that test all the time. I wasn’t happy about it. But we did it because your education system was viewed as one of the best in the country. And your students have I think the second-highest ACT scores in the country. And I looked at the average of what Iowa students have, which is higher than the national average. This school’s students are higher than the Iowa average. [applause]
And so for the life of me, I don’t understand why your state government — and I know Governor Brandstad vetoed the money that would’ve come to help this school, and it was a bipartisan agreement. Y’know those are hard to come by these days. You had a bipartisan agreement in your legislature for more one-time student funding to help deal with some of the financial challenges that districts like this one have.
And Governor Brandstad vetoed it. Yet at the same time you have these laws which require if you have a deficit you may not be able to be a school district. It doesn’t make sense to me. When you- When you- Something is not broke, don’t break it. Right?
And this school district and these schools throughout Iowa are doing a better-than-average job. Now, I wouldn’t keep any school open that wasn’t doing a better-than-average job. If a school’s not doing a good job, then, y’know, that may not be good for the kids. But when you have a district that is doing a good job, it seems kinda counterproductive to impose financial burdens on it.
So the federal government doesn’t have a whole lot to do with this, this is mostly state and local decision-making. Very little, less than 10 percent I think maybe 7 percent or so of the money that’s used to run schools in Iowa comes from the federal government. So therefore this is primarily a state issue.
But as president what I’m looking for are schools that exceed expectations. And I don’t care whether they’re urban, suburban, or rural. And where there are small districts like this one, I know you’ve got online opportunities, and maybe there should be exploration about how you can also share teachers and all the rest of it.
But I am very partial toward districts that are doing well. And from everything I can tell, this one is.
And so I hope that you’re able to work through whatever your financial and political challenges are with the state government, and at least have a fighting chance to keep providing the quality of education that produces students like these three young women. I meet a lot of students and you can be very proud of not only them but I’m sure so many others for the way they present themselves, the way they conduct themselves, and how effective they have been in making their case.
So when we talk about rural development, you’ve gotta also talk about rural education. And I think we’ve gotta go hand in hand, and maybe Tom [Vilsack] will have something more to say about this. Because if we’re gonna diversify the rural economy, we wanna make sure that we have the best possible schools in order to produce the students and the adults that are going be part of that new economy, particularly when it comes to clean energy in Iowa.
I also believe we need to do more on early childhood education. A lot of kids are not prepared when they come to school and they never catch up. So I would like to see us try to help, starting with the most disadvantaged kids, to give them a better early head start, a better universal kindergarten experience so that they can be successful.
And then on the other end we’ve gotta make college affordable, which it isn’t right now for a lot of hardworking families. And I have a whole plan about how to do that. I want to make tuition debt-free so you don’t have to borrow money if you go to a public college or university, and I wanna help anybody who has debt — anybody here have some student debt? yep — I wanna help you refinance that student debt the way you can with a mortgage or a car payment. Right now you can’t, and we oughta be able to get the cost down. [applause] You can save thousands of dollars if we do that for you.
And I personally don’t think the federal government should be making money off of lending money to students and families for kids to go to college and get their education. So we’re gonna change a lot of what is now the kind of challenges that people face when it comes to getting enough funding to go to college.
I am still in wait and see mode. But I do want to say… Secretary Clinton if you want grassroots money and sweat, you are going to have go all in with us and not Wall Street.
We can’t allow ourselves to be Obama’d on education in this election.
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