Education: A Golden Age

“The education sector’s structure and policies will change more in the next 3 years than they changed in the last 2,500 years”

Obama: victorious without the teachers’ unions, free to act in the interest of students

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From Whitney Tilson’s blog

1) DFER’s Joe Williams with a great quote in this article about the presidential candidates’ views on improving public education:

While the NEA waited until Sen. Obama had essentially locked up the nomination before making any endorsement, the 1.3 million-member American Federation of Teachers was an early supporter of Sen. Clinton and worked actively on her behalf.

Because neither national teachers’ union supported Sen. Obama during the primaries, he may have the opportunity to be a “different kind of Democrat,” said Joe Williams, the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, a New York City-based political action committee that contributes money to Democratic candidates.

“He’s earned his independence so that he can really decide which of the unions’ positions he really wants to embrace and which ones he doesn’t,” Mr. Williams said. “The conventional wisdom is the time that you’ve got to pander to the unions is during the primary. He emerged victorious without [their help].”


2008/06/11 - Posted by | Policy

1 Comment »

  1. I’ve written to Senator Obama because I’m a bit confused about what his party stance is and I’m a teacher.

    Your editorial mentions that the party is split into two factions – status quo and reform. Can you be more specific? Currently, what I hear through media is an exodus of unhappy students and parents fleeing urban public schools and into charter schools (e.g. detroit, denver, san diego, and Los Angeles) Each district appears to have lost around 50,000 students. In some cases, when a district falls below 100,000 students then their funding becomes substantially reduced. In Denver’s case it cost 430 teacher jobs in 2006.
    Some districts are in danger of outright collapse.

    It is my belief that this is a manufactured crisis created by poorly written curriculum, namely the department of education’s ‘exemplary’ textbooks. Adding fuel to this fire is the Quantitative Literacy (QL) movement which appears to have created a reference called the Achieve Standard.

    Moreover, I believe that as this crisis unfolded it created new markets for products like tests, textbooks, charter schools, software, etc. thereby increasing the cost of educating children by at least 10-fold, as well as, increasing the number of students dropping out of high school.

    Obama was CEO of an education foundation that was discarded when the mayor took control of the school district in 2002. This was at the same time NCLB was enacted. So I suppose one would have to compare how the two types of reform movements differ.

    And you see, we had the exemplary textbooks even back in 1998 which I remember when the verdict was announced at the NCTM conference in San Diego and the entire center went silent when we heard the news (it didn’t make any sense to some of us then and it still doesn’t – I refuse to this day to ever join NCTM again)

    So how is the democratic education reform movement different from the republican one? For one I don’t think democrats support standardized testing and republicans do. I think democrat charter schools are different, but I’m not sure how – except that they seem to have more integrity with regard to educating minorities and urban neighborhoods. KIPP schools and CEP seemed to really not hit it off too well in their respective commmunities. Green Dot is still an experiment in LAUSD.

    I like public education and unions have made progress although a Democrat reformer seems to be against unions. Teacher pay is not very good and benefits are average. What do reformers have against unions other than they organize workers? Merit pay has been tried in past history and it didn’t work.

    Unions don’t control curriculum – I found that out at a leadership conferences – NSF grants fund college professors.

    Why won’t the US adopt one curriculum with their vision? Why not adopt the best standard available, adopt Singapore – it is a vision and a curriculum designed for one track. That’s my goal, its never been achieved in American education. Maybe then public school could be competitive. Or maybe that’s what reformers don’t want, some competition I mean?

    Comment by Al Rode | 2008/06/17 | Reply

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