My disappointment with the amended Democratic platform: "group mentoring" instead of class size reduction?
There has been much discussion of the recent amendments made to the Democratic platform. See the video below of delegates including Pennsylvania attorney Chuck Pascal , Troy LaRaviere, head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT, and others proposing and approving changes to the original, highly flawed document.
Clearly there have been substantial improvements, pointing out the destructive impact of high-stakes testing, particularly on students of color and the schools they attend, proposing that parents have the right to opt out testing, and describing the destabilizing influence from the unchecked rapid expansion of charters. See Valerie Strauss on the amendments, as well as a transcript of the discussion that occurred here.
Some of the language seems to have been influenced by the petition to the Democratic Party posted by the Network for Public Education Action. (Full disclosure: I'm on the board of NPE.) Corporate reformers including Peter Cunningham, former press secretary to Arne Duncan, and Shavar Jeffries of Democrats for Education Reform expressed predictable outrage.
At the same time, public school teachers and bloggers like Peter Greene pointed out that the platform only opposes for-profit charters, even as the distinction between for-profit and non-profit charters is often hazy, as non-profits can contract with for-profit operations to run their schools. See also this excellent Pro Publica report for more on this issue.
And although the amended platform specifically calls for charter schools to be obligated to "reflect their communities, and thus must accept and retain proportionate numbers of students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners in relation to their neighborhood public schools" this has been the law in New York since 2010 -- without any real attempt to enforce it.
Democrats on Charters and Testing from Schoolhouse Live on Vimeo.
There are other aspects of the platform that I find disappointing still. It contains a proposal to fund group mentoring, which is described as a NYC Public School Parents: My disappointment with the amended Democratic platform: "group mentoring" instead of class size reduction?: