"We're close to a tipping point with public education, especially in big cities." That's the message that Diane Ravitch brought to Washington, D.C., last week in a series of meetings and public events with AFT President Randi Weingarten on reclaiming the promise of public education. Ravitch, a former education official in the George H.W. Bush administration, has become a staunch critic of education policies that began under former President George W. Bush and have continued under President Barack Obama.
On Dec. 9, a coalition of education advocates, including the AFT, parents and community, faith and other groups will hold a National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education. The mobilization is part of a long-term push for reforms designed to reclaim the promise of public education as the nation's gateway to democracy and racial and economic justice.
In his second inaugural speech, President Obama stated, "We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher."
In a time of widespread calls for education "reform" that are little more than thinly veiled attempts at privatizing schools, the AFT has a new proposal that would actually help solve some of the problems American education faces. The AFT Teacher Preparation Task Force released a report, Raising the Bar—Aligning and Elevating Teacher Preparation and the Teaching Profession, that recommends the equivalent of a "bar" exam for teachers, similar to the tests that lawyers have to pass before they can legally practice.
A 2007 Boston Globe report on college admissions data that has been making the rounds on Twitter lately reveals that “about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America's highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their institutions' minimum admissions standards,” most of whom “are students who gained admission through their ties to people the institution wanted to keep happy, with alumni, donors, faculty members, administrators and politicians topping the list.”
A fired up workforce in New Mexico is fighting a Summertime battle against a “reform” scheme by Gov. Susana Martinez (R) that would hurt, not help, the state’s public school students. Martinez refused to consult with educators in drafting the plan and is pushing it through by an administrative rule change after the legislature rejected her proposals this spring.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney yesterday outlined his proposals for education and, like his economic platform, Romney’s proposal centers on failed policies of the past while attacking teachers. He even says class size doesn’t matter.
While at a labor-management conference of more than 400 teachers, administrators and other educators working together on school reforms, AFT President Randi Weingarten said this about the Romney plan.
Earlier this year, it looked like a battle was brewing between Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and the Cleveland Teachers Union (CTU). Jackson’s school reform plan would have eliminated collective bargaining and a number of other workplace provisions for teachers. But CTU leaders, Jackson and other education advocates worked together to find common ground and to keep their focus on the kids.
There are major differences between the education reform outlined in AFT’s Quality Agenda and the agenda being pushed by self-styled education reformers, AFT President Randi Weingarten told about 2,000 educators at AFT’s Teach 2011 Conference last week.