Are Dems finally getting into the discussion?

….And while we’re talking about folks being confused…all the “celebrities” who have come to Denver in support of Obama might want to have a dialogue about where their children attend school…mostly private schools (including the Obama daughters who attend the private school of their parents’ choice). I’ll bet not one of them is in a troubled public school that is badly in need of reforming. I guess it’s ok for their children to have choices but the rest of us have to wait around while they carry out a “comprehensive plan to reform traditional public education” instead of providing solutions now for American families to have access to the best opportunities available for a quality education. Of course we all know that their plan could “take awhile” and in the meantime what happens to the children who are currently attending schools that are not working for them? Giving parents choices…public charter schools, private and public scholarship programs, home schooling, etc., have provided wonderful opportunities for our children. We see them working well for families such as those participating the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (see US DOE).

Since Caroline Kennedy has been doing work for the public schools in NY at the request of Bloomberg and Klein… I do wonder why she hasn’t suggested that Obama and Biden endorse the Education Equality Project. It would certainly make sense to me and put the emphasis back on the children and how to better serve them.

…And talk about a different dialogue… per Mickey Kaus a new young group of Black Democrat elected officials (DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, etc.) spoke at the Ed Challenge for Change event and truly gave “rousing messages” about education reform and the needs of children and then kind of “beat up” on the teachers unions. Seems like the Democrats are finally getting into the discussion!

––Guestblogger Virginia Walden Ford, Education Policy Adviser, McCain08

13 Replies to “Are Dems finally getting into the discussion?”

  1. First off, your title implies that the Dems were never in the conversation. Which is just wrong. Whether you agree with their agenda or not, Dems have consistently put public education on their agenda, as opposed to the GOP, who seem to only keep private profit on their agenda. Second, is it impossible to send your kids to private schools and still support public education? I support organic farming – does that mean I have to be a farmer?

    And I really hope that this week doesn’t become one long sermon on how school choice is the answer to all our ills. As that could become really boring after a while. That and it’s all the unions’ fault, and those spineless Democrats who won’t stand up to those horrible unions. Could McCain possibly have a new idea, especially one that hasn’t already been shown to not have much of an effect?

  2. Virginia,

    Thanks for your mature and clear-minded perspective on public education and its politicization. I live in bluer-than-blue Baltimore, in the heart of sky blue Maryland. The school system is a shambles, teachers are under seige, and only the most focused, intrepid students emerge with a love of learning, the motivation to pursue higher education, and the skills to succeed.

    As you may know, the Baltimore school system “misplaced” tens of millions of dollars a few years ago. It was never found. Then Dem mayor, now Governor, and future presidentail aspirant Martin O’Malley couldn’t be bothered to look into the matter, and fought like a man possessed to thwart former (GOP) Governor Ehrlich’s effort to bring State supervision to that wholly corrupt system. Democrat politicians don’t send their kids to the schools they oversee. While I don’t blame them, I also don’t vote for them. In addition to stupdenously high taxes, I pay $10,000 a year to send my son to parochial school. I feel I owe him that much. To Democrats, I owe nothing but low regard and disdain, and I let them have it whenever I can.

    As for Marktropolis:
    Sir, paying political lip service to education is just about all the Democrats can manage. Their solutions (higher teacher pay, top heavy administration, strengthening unions, scrapping reliable and time-tested teaching methodologies, watered-down test standards) are well known and have led to the debasement of American education and our students’ abysmal standing in achievement tests among students worldwide. We know what the Democrats in an Obama Administration have in store for us: more mediocrity. Persist if you will with the canard that this party of self-aggrandizing politicians cares a whit for children’s education. History (and current events) suggest otherwise.

  3. Education reform has obviously moved beyond partisan lines. I know why Virginia’s trying to make it partisan – she works for McCain. But there are obviously Dems who care about education as a civil rights issue and are fed up with unions. Obviously, Obama isn’t going to support the EEP right now, but it seems obvious to me that he’s not tied to the unions after November. They didn’t even endorse him in the primary.

    In my mind, the achievement gap is a civil rights issue, and Republicans have had a pretty horrible record on civil rights for, oh, the last five decades. At the same time, I see zero passion for education reform and few details in McCain’s education agenda. So why should we trust McCain to close the achievement gap in the next four years?

  4. MarylandEd: Last time I checked, Ted Kennedy co-sponsored NCLB. So technically, you can actually call NCLB one of “their” solutions. Or is it one of yours? I also think you may be confusing symptoms with solutions. What time-tested methodologies are you referring to? Last time I checked, this administration’s key “scientifically-based” methodology was Reading First – which you may not have noticed went down in flames based in part on conflicts of interest, but also because it wasn’t. Scientifically based that is.

    Once again, I’m being told all the things that Dems/Obama are doing wrong. but no one is telling me what McCain is going to do differently. Last time I checked, the GOP controlled all the branches of the federal govt for most of the last 8 years – if the GOP cares so much about education, where’s the proof?

    Lip service? Canards? Self-aggrandizing? Can you throw anymore buzzwords in there?

  5. Virginia, to some of your points: Perhaps Caroline Kennedy hasn’t suggested that Obama and Biden endorse EEP because she doesn’t support it? And while I realize that you used to be affiliated with the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, you may want to re-read the US DOE sponsored evaluation of said program, and explain to us how its “working well for families” when the evaluation found “no evidence of a statistically significant difference in test scores” and scholarship recipients “did not report being more satisfied with school or feeling safer in school”. So, again, how is this a good example of choice?

    As for Fenty and Booker, I’m pretty sure they’re casting their votes with Obama and not McCain.

  6. Virginia –

    Although I shouldn’t assume, most of the readers of this blog are truly interested in education policy and are looking to learn and discuss genuine issues. I may not agree with one candidate or another, but I certainly want to understand what the next president, McCain or Obama, intends to do about education in this country. Therefore, I recommend you actually discuss your candidate’s policies, why he believes what he does and legitimately disagrees with Obama, and what precedence education reform would take in his administration. All this political schtick is both silly and completely uninformative.


  7. MFrank – given the fact that most of Obama’s ed folks actually have experience in public education (both research and practice), I think they will. No offense to Walden Ford, but her main claim to fame appears to be as an African American talking head for the pro-voucher crowd.

  8. Marktropolis,

    Back off Virginia Walden Ford. She is more than “an African American talking head for the pro-voucher crowd.” It’s okay to disagree on policy, but don’t make it personal. As for Virginia’s background, google her. She’s a graduate of Central HS in Little Rock, AR. Yes, that Central High where a white democrat governor stood in the school house doors to prevent black kids from entering. Her son’s life was “saved” (to quote Virginia), when a kind man paid for his tuition at a local catholic school. Her son fell into the wrong crowd and she was losing him to the streets. Her son became a good student and served this country in Iraq. Millions of kids in the United States are being lost to the streets because their schools are awful. Again, what’s wrong giving a mother (black, white, or brown) in Anacostia a choice to send her kids to the same school as Ted Kennedy’s kids, Chelsea Clinton, and Obama’s kids. We all know that Kennedy and Clinton chose not to send their kids to any school in Anacostia. And Obama, if elected, will choose a private school. So why condemn low income chilldren to crappy, unsafe schools? At least, McCain wants to give those mothers a choice and their kids a chance.

  9. Once again (assuming for the moment you’re the same Brian who posted a comment in the tread on evaluating teachers) methinks you’re getting a tad off topic. But for the sake of argument: I purposely restrained myself in critiquing Ford further. However, I think it’s important that folks have some understanding of from whence she comes. Is she the only black woman who went to Central High? Is that supposed to provide her with some kind of official civil rights bona fides?

    I hardly think what I said was personal – unless you think critiquing someone’s political past is personal (in which case presidential races would be really boring). You can disagree with how I stated things, but the facts are this: She’s African American; she’s been in leadership positions at pro-voucher organizations; and finally, unless I’m missing something, she doesn’t have any professional training or experience in education (apart from being a parent). Which is the point I was making. So far none of her posts have presented any substantive policies from McCain. And I thought that was the point here.

  10. Marktropolis,

    Last time I checked, Teddy Kennedy was running from NCLB with the kind of nimble agility not seen since his Chappaquiddick days. Best not to begin one’s argument with technicalities, MarkyT, it tends to eat into the efficacy of one’s argument. Now, I cited a very serious problem in my city. Not a hypothetical. Not a “what if.” But a tangible, manifestly disturbing phenomenon — massive corruption among education bureaucrats and the political machinations that covered it up. I then followed up with more general observations that seemed, to me, to be relevant. You responded by suggesting I lay off the “buzzwords.” I would respectfully suggest that until the “professional” education class gets out of bed with one of our political parties, a presidential candidate’s education initiatives border on the irrelevent, because — down here on the street — the system is broken. But enough buzzwords.

    I see that Ms. Walden Ford isn’t your cup of tea. And it’s not because she’s black or a McCain supporter or pro-voucher, but rather that she just doesn’t have the educational pedigree which would qualify her to speak authoritatively to someone with heavy duty credentials in the education industry. She’s just someone’s mother. Just some woman who loved her child, and recognized the grave danger posed by permitting him to remain in public school. Just some woman who in desperation tried something that happened to work and that can work for others. And all she’s done since then is devote her life to spreading words of hope to inner city parents. While I might in other circumstances thank you for restraining yourself from “critiquing Ford” more assiduously than you threatened to, I suspect Ms. Ford can handle herself quite well. So if you have a more penetrating observation than that she is an African-American talking head for the McCain people, please elucidate.

    Certainly, most of us on this blog have been through some form of education training– student teaching, in-classroom experience, grad courses, degrees, etc. I’m just a lawyer now, but I used to teach. It’s a good life in many respects. But it’s not about you, or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s about your clients, those whom you serve. It’s about the students and the parents who have entrusted their kids to you. Virginia Walden Ford may seem like some interloper crashing your little party. But she’s got more experience than any ten PhDs. Yes, that’s right. She’s lived what the rest of your crowd merely talks about. Her credentials are more than adequate.

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