What concerns me most about Hillary Clinton’s speech is I what I didn’t hear.
I heard no mention of unions. Public sector or private. How strange. The omission suggests one of the traditional pillars of the Democratic Party, labor, is no longer even worthy of mention.
When Barack Obama was elected, he went to Washington promising to press for the union “check-off” provision that would have made it easier (and safer) for working men and women to vote for union representation. He gave up on the idea when he ahd the chance to save another priority, health care.
I heard no mention of traditional public schools. Oh, sure, there was talk about schools and even a nice story about a kind first grade teacher. But public schools throughout the nation are under siege by so-called “reformers”–supported by Clinton– who want to privatize education, turn it into a profit-making industry. Clinton missed a chance to bring many Sanders’s supporters to her side.
Of course, the assault on public education is part of the assault on public sector unions. Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), led by Newark’s own Shavar Jeffries, has called teacher unions the “dam” that must be “burst” in order to improve public education. Isn’t it strange that both the N EA and the AFT rushed to endorse Clinton before the primaries? Why do I hear the old union refrain, “Which side are you on, boys (girls?)…which side are you on?”
I heard no mention of standardized testing. Or Common Core. Does Clinton endorse the infamous words of former US Education Secretary Arne Duncan that parents are opposed to punitive testing because they will learn their children aren’t as smart as they thought they were?
I heard no mention of PARCC or Pearson. We’re all supposed to get into an uproar about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers, but no one at the top of the Democratic leadership is complaining about cyber-spying on our children while they are taking tests that provide profits to testing companies from public tax money.
I heard no mention of racial isolation. Without racial segregation enforced by housing laws—a segregation now as bad as it ever was, especially in major cities—the desperate problems in the streets would not be so tragic. Schools would not be such instruments of American apartheid. Violence could be countered.