Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ed activists enter the lion's den, win some important concessions

In an unexpected move, Democrats have revised the K-12 education section of their party’s 2016 platform in important ways, backing the right of parents to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized tests, qualifying support for charter schools, and opposing using test scores for high-stakes purposes to evaluate teachers and students. -- Washington Post
Party platforms mean little and are usually forgotten the day after the election. This year's platform fight within the Democratic Party is more significant than usual because it reflects the struggles of real movements on the ground -- the Fight For 15 Movement, for example -- and because of the realignment of forces within both major political parties.

Dem platform now supports Opt-Out
Throughout the primary campaign, Sanders continually tried to drag Clinton leftward on policy. Leading up to the national convention, Sanders insisted that the party adopt “the most progressive platform ever passed.” That may be a low bar, but it did.

For the first time, after intense internal debate between the Clinton and Sanders factions, the DNC's platform committee backed the unqualified inclusion of the $15 minimum wage as the official policy of the party. They also dropped their statement of support for TPP.

With education activists like Chicago's Troy LaRaviere leading the way, the Sanders forces wrung concessions from Clinton loyalists and came away with an education plank that broke from the current administration's outright support for privately-run charters and high-stakes testing. The party is now on record in its support for the opt-out movement of parents and students.

Also among the unity amendments was a Sanders-Clinton compromise on education that included free public higher education for families with income of up to $125,000 a year.

If you don't think that matters, check out the whiny responses from Arne Duncan's former deputy, Peter Cunningham, and from the hedge-fund school "reformers" from DFER.

Here's my brother Fred's response.
Democrats are now against “high-stakes standardized tests that falsely and unfairly label students of color, students with disabilities, and English Language learners as failing.” Peter hates that.
Cunningham even has reservations about the rather tame criticism of charter schools: He calls it “extreme” that the Democratic Party supports “high-quality public charter schools,” as long as they don’t, “replace or destabilize traditional public schools.”
DFER's Shavar Jeffries claims that the original draft on education was “progressive and balanced.” but that the new language “threatens to roll back” President Obama’s education legacy. I hope so, considering that what Jeffries calls "Obama's education legacy" is actually George Bush's.

The platform shift marks a setback for these corporate reformers and their patrons--Gates, Walton, Broad, etc... I have suggested that Eli Broad should even demand his $12M back from Cunningham and Edu_post. They obviously have no juice.

Here's an example of the disrespect these guys have for the millions of Sanders supporters.

I'm still waiting to see what Cunningham's former boss, Duncan, has to say on this.

There's  much in the platform that progressives will dislike. Some things I personally find offensive. As the Nation notes:
After the amendment to secure the rights of Palestinians was voted down, the room unanimously supported a move to eradicate wildlife trafficking that would have helped save creatures like Cecil the lion.
But at least on education and a few other issues, Sanders' people were able to leverage some concessions. In exchange, if he can deliver the party at least 70% of his voters (and I believe he can) he will all but ensure a Trump defeat. More important, Sanders has promised to keep the movement behind his campaign going after the election.

Looking back, this is the kind of negotiation that should have taken place on the part of AFT and NEA leaders before their now discredited early and divisive Clinton endorsement.

I have no doubt that after the election, Clinton and the party leadership will try to backtrack on the education plank. But now at least, there's a document that activists, parents and teachers can use to hold her feet to the fire. Something that wasn't done during the Obama years.

Activists learned they could enter the lion's den and win some victories. Now the struggle moves back out in the streets, the communities and the schools.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.