from The American Prospect
The Democratic Education Divide
A pre-convention education event was full of anti-union rhetoric, even as teachers' union members remain among the most loyal of Democratic constituencies.
Dana Goldstein | August 25, 2008 | web only
An interesting report from the DNC. Very poorly informed about school reform.
This essay has value as a report of the DNC meeting. It also includes some strong assertions not supported by the available date. These should be examined..
The author says,
In Washington, D.C., the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers have been slow to embrace the mantra of uniform expectations and test-based accountability, which most national education reformers now believe are key to erasing the astounding achievement gaps between white and nonwhite students, and between the rich and poor.
The assertion that most national education reformers believe that test-based accountability is key to overcoming achievement gaps simply does not stand.
See, Collateral Damage: How High Stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools. (2007) By Sharon L. Nichols and David C. Berliner. Harvard Education Press.
Accountability Frankenstein: Understanding and Taming the Monster. (2007) Sherman Dorn.
And the numerous writings of Richard Rothstein, including Class and Schools. (2004)
And a “ Bolder, Broader Approach.” .” Here: http://www.boldapproach.org/ With hundreds of educators signatory to the essay.
Persons who make this claim tend to know little about testing and even less about the effect that test based accountability has imposed on public schools.
The author then asserts:
And while No Child Left Behind is regarded as deeply flawed legislation in every quarter, it is also almost uniformly praised by policy wonks for shining a light on the achievement gap and for instituting the first national collection of education data correlated by race and family income. But the national teachers' unions wholeheartedly oppose NCLB, mostly because of its focus on standardized tests and its threat of defunding schools labeled as "failing."
See the 143 organizations dedicated to substantive reform in NCLB found here: ttp://www.edaccountability.org/Joint_Statement.html
There is nowhere near the agreement which the author claims.
The author then claims:
After all, if folks like Nancy Ruth White and the generations of teachers following her embrace of the Democrats for Education Reform agenda -- giving up tenure in exchange for higher starting salaries and merit pay tied to student achievement -- the unions will have to get with the program. If they don't, they'll risk becoming irrelevant to their own members.
The advocacy group Democrats for Education Reform does not have experience in improving schools. Look at the history of Roy Romer as Superintendent of Schools in Los Angeles.