Friday, December 23, 2016

Undermining Public Education Has Been A Bipartisan Affair |

Undermining Public Education Has Been A Bipartisan Affair |:

Undermining Public Education Has Been A Bipartisan Affair

“[T]he Obama administration, in education laid the groundwork for Trump and Betsy DeVos because they were big supporters of charter schools . . . [C]harter schools are the first step toward full privatization.” – Diane Ravitch, Democracy Now, December 1, 2016
If there is one thing Democrats and Republicans agreed on during the last two decades, maybe the only thing, it is how to undermine public support for public education. Misguided education policy is a bipartisan endeavor in the United States and set the stage for the Trump anti-education agenda.
As a teacher, as a historian, and as a citizen, I have mixed feelings about the Obama presidency. I remember every president since Dwight Eisenhower. I believe Barack Obama is the brightest, most thoughtful president since the 1950s. I will miss his efforts to think things through with us during his speeches and his wry sense of humor. However, I think Obama’s presidency was weakened during his first six years in office by his intellectualism and an essentially conservative view of the power of the president. For too long President Obama tried to compromise with a vote “NO” political opposition that had no intention of ever agreeing to compromise.
I think President Obama also did not want to be seen as a social activist and politically had to shore-up support from wealthy financial interests aligned with the Democratic Party who view privatization of education as an investment opportunity. This meant a narrow technocratic approach to education reform epitomized by ESSA rather than a social justice agenda. It meant support for the expansion of charter schools and continuing the Bush administration’s commitment to the high-stakes testing of students and the assessment of teachers and schools based on student test score.
Obama the symbol will always be an important figure in defining the United States as a more inclusive society. Unfortunately Obama as president failed to make significant improvement in education for students, their families, and for teachers. Instead it angered or alienated many sectors of American society, weakening support for the Democrats, and contributing to Trump’s election.
During the Obama presidency the United States never made it to the top, it was not possible given lingering racial and ethnic bias and growing social and economic inequality in the country. But I don’t think the American people are in an educational quagmire either. Most United States schools function well and most United States students learn and are Undermining Public Education Has Been A Bipartisan Affair |:

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