"I Wouldn’t Keep Any School Open That Wasn’t Doing A Better Than Average Job”
Let me start by saying, I don't think Hillary Clinton has either the will or the power to close half of America's schools. But her recent comments still deserve a strong critical response.
When I posted the video of Hillary's speech in Iowa -- the one where she says she wants "below average" schools closed -- I fully expected the response I got from Team Clinton, which includes of course, both national teacher unions. Clinton apologists immediately moved into circle-the-wagons mode with the AFT damage-control squad doing the heavy lifting. Remember, it was AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten who felt compelled to endorse Hillary long before she even announced her candidacy.
First came a tweet from Hillary's senior policy adviser Ann O'Leary. She retweeted a post from (can you guess?) Alexander Russo who in turn posted Hillary's statement as quoted in US News -- the same exact statement that's in the video above -- in order to somehow show that HC's school closing call was "taken totally out of context."
No they weren't.Please read this article explaining the context of the remarks, which were obviously taken totally out of context: https://t.co/WuNfnla8nw— Ann O'Leary (@Ann_OLeary) December 23, 2015
It's true that the gist of Hillary's speech was a call for fair and adequate funding for Iowa's rural schools. She's always been a supporter of more funding for public education as well as a voice for the expansion of early childhood programs. She deserves a SmallTalk salute for that.
But it was precisely in that context that she makes abundantly clear, her rationale for her defense of these schools is that they are "above average". As for schools that aren't -- she clearly says, they should be closed.
More from O'Leary:
Hillary's entire career has been a commitment to fixing struggling schools, not shutting them down. #ImWithHer pic.twitter.com/Gv39eueIuI— Ann O'Leary (@Ann_OLeary) December 23, 2015
|School-closer Rahm laughs it up with pal Hillary.|
While she hasn't really been that significant a figure on ed policy, I remember that as the senator from N.Y., Hillary was an early supporter of No Child Left Behind, which mandated sanctions, including closing, of hundreds of low-scoring schools. Up until very recently, she was reaffirming her support for NCLB. She also been a strong backer of charter schools (she's been somewhat critical of their "cherry picking" lately) and Teach For America.
Next one up doing damage control was the AFT's Michelle Ringuette. She's Randi's assistant for Labor, Government Relations and Political Affairs. She blames the Washington Times for biased editing of HC's speech.
And then there was this Randi Weingarten herself:I'm suspicious any time the Wash Times starts aggressively moving a clip out of sync with rest of remarks. https://t.co/FCaZGBDirS— Michelle Ringuette (@Ringuette) December 23, 2015
Hard to know what to make of that. So Hillary went to Iowa to fight school closings but along the way, called for the closing of "below average" schools.@MikeKlonsky campaign made it clear: she went to IA fight closure, will work to fix, not close, schools pic.twitter.com/vzPZAKlN9k— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) December 23, 2015
If I was Randi or O'Leary or any of Hillary's handlers right now, I would sit her down and explain the problem with identifying schools as average, above average, or below average. Perhaps she's mixing things up with the Lake Wobegon effect. Or maybe she was looking back fondly on NCLB's mandate that all students will perform above average by the year 2014.
Next, I would advise her to admit that she misspoke in the Iowa speech, and then say what she really meant, ie. "I'm for fixing schools not closing them," and move on from there. If she doesn't, the Republicans are going to have a field day with her speech. Like ISIS with a Trump speech, if you know what I mean.
She might also admit, as most of her fellow Dems have already done, that NCLB was a (bi-partisan) mistake. One that it will take years to recover from.
Don't even get me started on Race To The Top, the greatest school-closing initiative in recent history.