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Friday Frenzy: Beyond Spitzer

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If you were as fascinated as I was with the Eliot Spitzer scandal, then you may have missed these noteworthy reads:

The Democrats for Education Reform will be among the first to get a sneak-peak of the new governor of New York, David Paterson. (Hat tip to Eduwonk for flagging this story.) Before Spitzer's troubles became public, the DFER had planned a March 20 fundraiser for Paterson in New York City's Harlem neighborhood. And, DFER's Joe Williams told me, Paterson has re-confirmed that he plans to attend.

With so few major pieces written about education in the presidential race, it's important to check out The New Republic's take on Barack Obama's education agenda. The piece makes the case that Obama is really more of centrist than a liberal on education, although you may not know that from his predictable campaign stump speeches of late, which tend to focus on bashing the No Child Left Behind Act. And the story explores the concerns some have over Linda Darling-Hammond's role as one of his education advisers.

And speaking of Obama, Alexander Russo's Chicago blog has a good post on the senator's congressional earmarks. From what I can discern, Obama had released his latest earmarks, but until now, hadn't released them for fiscal years 2005 and 2006. Sen. Hillary Clinton hasn't released hers, so far. For more about education earmarks in general, read my colleague (and Campaign K-12 contributor) Alyson Klein's story from earlier this month.

And finally, after a monthslong search, I've found a place where education is actually a big campaign issue. Delaware!

3 Comments

Nearly every time a former student has visited this winter, early in the conversation I hear, "You are for Obama aren't you? I knew it!" And none of us are concerned about which candidate is more liberal.

Ordinarily, when a reporter speaks of a candidate's views being more or less liberal or conservative, I assume they just don't know much about education. When solid education reporters allow an oversimplified definition of those terms, however, I just get frustrated.

The NEA and the AFT have fought for decades for equal opportunity and justice, and are "anti-reform" because we oppose that most destructive elements of NCLB? The Ed Trust is liberal even though it is one of the last defenders of a teach-to-the-test regime that is forcing our most vulnerable kids out of school, it attacks the fundamental principles of collective bargaining, and it poo-poos efforts to invest in children because they don't want to let teachers off the hook on accountability?
How in the world can education reporters characterize supporters of NCLB as reformers? Shouldn't editors ask whether the law is actually benefitting kids before granting that title?

The closest analogy is the drug war. Draconian laws, propelled by data-driven accountability, have filled our prisons with nonviolent people of color. Originally, the laws had many liberal supporters and they still have some. But do you refer to opponents of the War on Drugs as anti-reformers and the ACLU as conservative "special interest groups?"

I would hope that most reporters privately oppose NCLBs accountability provisions (after all, I really don't think I know anyone personally who supports the law, and my liberal and conservative colleagues mostly despise it, and by my reading, most education scholars conclude that its accountability measures have largely failed). Does that mean you are closet reactionaries?

Another thing comes up in nearly all of my reunions with students. Few make it to college, but usually I hear an exceptionally dignified statement like the one from a gang-banger this week, "I want to thank you for teaching us things that are real. It didn't happen in very many classes. We still talk about your class. You respected our brains." And that is why I oppose NCLB. My kids get hurt by the global marketplace, disrespected by the police, and so many other aspects of our market-driven system, and now those "liberals" have made alliances with market-driven "reformers" to metaphorically kick my kids in the teeth.

My mentor was an old socialist who worked closely with liberals like Eleanor Roosevelt and her motto was, "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Under that criterion, who is the liberal?

Nearly every time a former student has visited this winter, early in the conversation I hear, "You are for Obama aren't you? I knew it!" And none of us are concerned about which candidate is more liberal.

Ordinarily, when a reporter speaks of a candidate's views being more or less liberal or conservative, I assume they just don't know much about education. When solid education reporters allow an oversimplified definition of those terms, however, I just get frustrated.

The NEA and the AFT have fought for decades for equal opportunity and justice, and are "anti-reform" because we oppose that most destructive elements of NCLB? The Ed Trust is liberal even though it is one of the last defenders of a teach-to-the-test regime that is forcing our most vulnerable kids out of school, it attacks the fundamental principles of collective bargaining, and it poo-poos efforts to invest in children because they don't want to let teachers off the hook on accountability?
How in the world can education reporters characterize supporters of NCLB as reformers? Shouldn't editors ask whether the law is actually benefitting kids before granting that title?

The closest analogy is the drug war. Draconian laws, propelled by data-driven accountability, have filled our prisons with nonviolent people of color. Originally, the laws had many liberal supporters and they still have some. But do you refer to opponents of the War on Drugs as anti-reformers and the ACLU as conservative "special interest groups?"

I would hope that most reporters privately oppose NCLBs accountability provisions (after all, I really don't think I know anyone personally who supports the law, and my liberal and conservative colleagues mostly despise it, and by my reading, most education scholars conclude that its accountability measures have largely failed). Does that mean you are closet reactionaries?

Another thing comes up in nearly all of my reunions with students. Few make it to college, but usually I hear an exceptionally dignified statement like the one from a gang-banger this week, "I want to thank you for teaching us things that are real. It didn't happen in very many classes. We still talk about your class. You respected our brains." And that is why I oppose NCLB. My kids get hurt by the global marketplace, disrespected by the police, and so many other aspects of our market-driven system, and now those "liberals" have made alliances with market-driven "reformers" to metaphorically kick my kids in the teeth.

My mentor was an old socialist who worked closely with liberals like Eleanor Roosevelt and her motto was, "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Under that criterion, who is the liberal?

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