Education

Democrats' Education Platform: Pro-Government, Anti–School Choice

Language that was mildly positive toward reform efforts was beaten back by public school activists.

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Christopher Webb / Flickr

When the Democratic Party platform committee met last weekend to discuss their party's principles, not everyone was happy with the draft K–12 education proposal that was presented. The problem, according to some public school activists? The plank was too positive toward privatization.

According to The Washington Post, these activists criticized the party for using the same sort of language as corporate reformers, including offering limited support for school choice and test-based teacher accountability.

Platform committee and party members responded by revising the plank to reflect the concerns of these activists, adding a proposal to let parents opt their children out of standardized tests.

When it comes to academic performance, the party's position draws heavily from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the bipartisan bill that replaced No Child Left Behind. While the ESSA does give local and state governments a bit more say in education matters, it also requires them to set high educational standards for their students.

That might sound like a good thing—until you realize the federal government must approve of state accountability measures on student achievement. As Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute has noted, this means there's little to stop the secretary of education from vetoing accountability plans until a state falls in line with what the administration wants.

When it comes to school choice, the revised plank makes it clear that Democrats are in favor of limiting the types of schools that are available for students. The proposal states that public charter schools should be required to "accept and retain proportionate numbers of students of color, students with disabilities and English language learners in relation to their neighborhood public schools." In practice, this means a charter could be shut down simply because the kids who choose to apply there, or who happen to thrive after enrolling, don't end up being diverse enough. Moreover, the party is explicitly opposing for-profit charter schools, further eliminating opportunities for parents to move their kids out of a failing local school.

The plank also calls for a national campaign to recruit and retain "high-quality teachers" by ensuring they have the materials needed to succeed in the classroom. How it plans to accomplish this lofty goal, however, is left to the imagination.

To be fair, the proposals aren't all bad. The committee came out against punishments that unfairly affect minority and disabled students and approved of a passage advocating for reforming discipline procedures. (Reason has written extensively on the problems with zero-tolerance school discipline policies.) Nevertheless, it's obvious from the revised plank that the Democratic Party plans to continue to drag its feet when it comes to efforts to improve K–12 education through increased teacher accountability and school choice.

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53 responses to “Democrats' Education Platform: Pro-Government, Anti–School Choice

  1. Profits are bad.

    Except when you profit from the taxes of your friends and neighbors, then that is good.

  2. When it comes to school choice, the revised plank makes it clear that Democrats are in favor of limiting the types of schools that are available for students.

    What fuckup tried to put anything to the contrary in the original platform?

  3. That’s it, when I have kids, if I can’t at least get them into charter schools then they are going to be exchange students.

    1. Nah, it depends on where you are. My kids have had actual libertarian teachers. Even the lefties provide excellent teaching opportunities. My daughter’s statist bullshit detector is getting better all the time.

        1. On the tundra, duh!

        2. Well one does get to the magical land of good schools by going on a “white flight”.

          1. Or… get your kids into a good science/tech focused school in the ‘hood like the one I attended.

      1. Nah, it depends on where you are. My kids have had actual libertarian teachers.

        I had some too. Like a Spanish teacher who looked like a crazy hippie but was surprisingly pro-free market. We found out after the mayor of our suburb came in to speak to us about the glories of his trip to Cuba. He left and she proceeded to refute half of what he said.

      2. I had a few libertarian teachers when I was in school, but then you end up with the majority of professors who are statists when you get to post-secondary. =/

  4. If government schools would just teach children to read, every book would be a children’s book.

    1. Better yet, end government schools.

  5. So the NEA is calling charter schools private schools? Orwellian. They’re just more of the same government school bullshit.

    1. Looks like they got Tweak fooled.

  6. Their bread is buttered by unionists.

    1. Or would be, if the bread-buttering workers weren’t on break.

  7. Just a reminder of the progressives’ idea of religious freedom:

    The government doesn’t have to respect the consciences of religious dissenters if those dissenters are (a) nuns caring for the elderly or (b) business owners who don’t want to cater gay weddings.

    But businesses *must* accomodate religious objectors, at least if the religious objectors are Rastafarian kitchen workers who want to wear dreadlocks.

    1. Can “legal” marijuana be far behind?

    2. Not true!

      Progressives don’t have ideas and they don’t have respect for much.

        1. Good, I didn’t want to hear another story about Sachs and violence.

    1. I thought he was stabbed like Nicole Brown.

    2. I hate gold. I would make a terrible Indian.

    3. Should have used mithril instead.

      1. Isn’t it time for common sense stone control in India?

  8. What the Democrats want is racial quotas in school suspensions, as explained in detail at this link:

    http://goo.gl/6OANzF

    As the DNC platform explains, it is “opposing discipline policies which disproportionally effect students of color and students with disabilities.” Which is to say, they oppose colorblind discipline policies, which result in higher suspension rates for blacks than whites, and higher suspension rates for troubled kids (emotionally disabled kids) than regular kids, because rates of misbehavior are not the same among different groups.

    As Katherine Kersten pointed out in the March 18 Minneapolis Star-Tribune, black students’
    discipline rate is higher than other students’ because, on average, they misbehave more in school: “In fact, a major 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice found that the racial gap in suspensions is “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.” (citing John Paul Wright, et al., “Prior problem behavior accounts for the racial gap in school suspensions,” 42 Journal of Criminal Justice 257 (2014)).

    The only way to equalize suspension rates for all races would be to adopt racial quotas that curb discipline for black offenders. But an appeals court ruled in People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education (1997) that schools cannot do so, striking down a rule that forbade a “school district to refer a higher percentage of minority students than of white students for discipline.”

    1. But that’s the right kind of racism.

    2. And if on a given month the minority discipline quota had already been filled, then what happens? I’m sure the kids would never figure out that they were completely immune from punishment no matter what they did.

      1. That’s exactly what happens. NPR reported on this exact topic some time back. The article brought up the case of a teacher who was beaten into a coma by several of his students. The school has one of those policies and it is essentially impossible to discipline certain students.

  9. Language that was mildly positive toward reform efforts was beaten back by public government school activists.

    FTFY

  10. This year’s annual Twelfth of July celebrations in the North [of Ireland] have been described as the most successful, peaceful and trouble-free in years by police and politicians.

    “Almost 600 loyal order parades took place on Tuesday to commemorate the 326th anniversary of King William III’s victory over King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690….

    “Three homes in the Shankill area of Belfast were gutted by fire after burning embers from a large bonfire were carried through the air and a cat was seriously injured in Antrim after it was thrown on a bonfire by thugs.”

  11. How it plans to accomplish this lofty goal, however, is left to the imagination.

    More taxes and more federal funding.

  12. Should a statue of Jefferson Davis remain in the Kentucky state Capitol?

    Davis and Abraham Lincoln are both Kentucky natives and both have statues in the Capitol.

    So far the Davis statue is staying where it is, but some activists and politicians want it moved to a less conspicuous location.

    Others want to make relocating the statue even more difficult, by having it designated as a “military object,” so that two commissions, not just one, would supposedly have to approve any change.

    1. Should a statue of Jefferson Davis remain in the Kentucky state Capitol?

      Yes; but it should be suspended from the ceiling by a noose.

      1. Please, couldn’t a sour apple tree be brought in to act as gallows?

    2. Are these the same type of folks who had a cow when the Taliban blew up the giant buddha statues for being against Islam? I know, I know, it’s different when they do it.

  13. If it’s something Democrats are proposing, it’s guaranteed that it’s both pro-government and anti-freedom. Of course, you only need one of those terms to know the other.

  14. “The plank also calls for a national campaign to recruit and retain “high-quality teachers” by ensuring they have the materials needed to succeed in the classroom. How it plans to accomplish this lofty goal, however, is left to the imagination.”

    I’m sure it includes higher taxes.

  15. “To be fair, the proposals aren’t all bad. The committee came out against punishments that unfairly affect minority and disabled students and approved of a passage advocating for reforming discipline procedures. ”

    Never quite understood this one to be much more than pandering. Basically it’s turning a blind eye towards classroom disruptions because of the student’s race.

    1. Yep.

      Don’t buy the feel-good nonsense – it’s as awful as the rest of their plank.

  16. Is this the same Dem platform that has the plank of prosecuting people with badthink opinions?

    Yeah? Fuck them with a rusty chainsaw.

  17. Where’s my free education from the Kennedy School of Government?

    Read the plea from the transgender activist and try not to have your bowels be moved.

    Please Secretary Clinton: Step Down

    Dear Secretary Clinton,

    Please step down. Withdraw from the race. Throw your considerable expertise and energy behind Elizabeth Warren. You will go down in history as a selfless humanitarian who cared more about the future of humanity than she did about her own aspirations.

    The situation is dire. Even the slightest possibility of a Trump presidency (you are tied in the polls today) is too much for our fragile democracy and our even more fragile world. Our problems are legion and getting worse (we all know what they are).

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..97968.html

    1. If the narrative over the next three months is your emails, Benghazi, Bill’s peccadilloes, the finances of the Clinton Foundation and general Republican antipathy towards you, then we will be unable to talk about solutions for climate change, greed, violence, worldwide social unrest and the need for national and international collaboration and problem solving.

      The kicker is: the solutions for climate change, greed, violence, and worldwide social unrest were in Hillary’s deleted emails!

      1. “The kicker is: the solutions for climate change, greed, violence and worldwide social unrest were in Hillary’s deleted emails!”

        So we could solve all of these problems by making big donations to the Clinton Global Initiative?

    2. “As an 18 year old in 1968 I was sitting behind the dais, not 20 feet away from Mayor Daley, when he leapt to his feet in anger and screamed an anti-semitic slur at Abraham Ribicoff. That single event catalyzed my becoming active in the anti-war movement.”

      Let me do some Googling…

      1. He has a consulting firm:

        “Alex is a graduate of The Sidwell Friends School, has a B.A. from Hiram College and a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Theology from Duke University. In addition to [his] experience as a school leader and teacher, [he] was a certified school counselor and highly successful tennis and basketball coach.”

        1. Also, he’ll get mad if you call him “he.” He’s Alexandra now.

    3. Our problems are legion and getting worse (we all know what they are).

      +1 dog whistle

  18. I checked the actual plank, and saw that it, too, used the phrase “for-profit charter schools.” What is a “for-profit” charter school? Do they mean charter schools that are operated by for-profit management companies? Or something else entirely?

  19. Legal experts have suggested that if Congress has the power to require individuals to buy health care insurance, it may also mandate that Americans buy broccoli. Legal experts have suggested that if Congress has the power to require individuals to buy health care insurance, it may also mandate that Americans buy broccoli. Legal experts have suggested that if Congress has the power to require individuals to buy health care insurance, it may also mandate that Americans buy broccoli. – – – – – ????? ???????????? ???????

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