Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Democrats make education revisions to 2016 platform — and a key reformer is furious - The Washington Post

Democrats make education revisions to 2016 platform — and a key reformer is furious - The Washington Post:

Democrats make education revisions to 2016 platform — and a key reformer is furious 



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.
Some of the changes are being welcomed by public school advocates who have been fighting corporate school reform, which includes standardized test-based accountability systems and the expansion of charter schools. Many of these activists have been worried that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, would back corporate reform, just as the Obama administration has. While it isn’t clear exactly what she will do if she becomes president — as platform language does not necessarily translate into policy — supporters of those reforms are furious at the changes, highlighting a rift in the party over how to improve K-12 education.
One of them, Shavar Jeffries, president of the Democrats for Education Reform, an influential political action committee supported heavily by hedge fund managers favoring charter schools, merit-pay tied to test scores and related reforms, issued a statement that went so far as to say that the original draft on education was “progressive and balanced” but that the new language “threatens to roll back” President Obama’s education legacy. (See full statement below.)
Negotiators on the platform committee met this past weekend in Orlando (you can watch here, starting at the 31st minute) and changed an earlier draft of the K-12 education plank (one of five education sections) that had drawn criticism from activists who wanted the Democrats to take a stand against some of the key elements of corporate reform, including on charter schools and test-based accountability. Clinton got booed recently when she appeared at the National Education Association’s convention and touted charter schools (though most of her speech was met with approval).
The first released draft said this:
Democrats are also committed to providing parents with high-quality public school options and expanding these options for low-income youth. We support great neighborhood public schools and high-quality public charter schools and we will help them to disseminate best practices to other school leaders and educators. At the same time, we oppose for-profit charter schools focused on making a profit off of public resources. Democrats also support increased transparency and accountability for all charter schools.
Critics pounced. Veteran educator Peter Greene, for example, said the Democrats needed to Democrats make education revisions to 2016 platform — and a key reformer is furious - The Washington Post:

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