Here’s a blog item on the viewpoint of the nation’s top charter-school lobbying organization, from the http://www.sfschools.org blog:
Charter lobby’s view of presidential candidates
The brief commentary below is from the Center for Education Reform (CER), a right-wing organization that’s the primary national lobbying force for charter schools. CER, closely linked to the Bush administration, is run by Jeanne Allen, who is the source the media calls first for any comment from the pro-charter viewpoint.
Here CER gives its perspective of the views of presidential candidates who spoke to the National Education Organization’s annual meeting. CER criticizes candidates who “pandered to the unions (sic) calls for more money, less testing, and less competition.”
Once we understand where the commentary is coming from, it’s an interesting view of the candidates — and also a good look at the view from the heart of the charter movement. (This commentary came via my e-mail subscription and I can’t find a link to it.)
UNIQUE CELEBRATION. From Bristol, RI the home of the nations oldest and longest running Fourth of July parade to Seattle WA, most of America was clapping and grinning in tribute to the nation on last weeks Independence Day. But the National Education Association (NEA) was conducting its celebration a bit differently. Every year during the week of the fourth, this labor union convenes and demonstrates why it is out of step with most of the families who lined the streets and lawns in tribute to America last week. This years annual NEA meeting hosted presidential hopefuls Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Mike Huckabee, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, and Bill Richardson. All of the candidates, with a few brief exceptions, pandered to the unions calls for more money, less testing, and less competition. Obama talked of finally raising salaries across the board and fixing and improving schools instead of abandoning them and passing out vouchers; Huckabee spoke of the need for more arts and music education, dodging any of his support for greater options for children; Biden emphasized the importance of early childhood education. Hillary Clinton backed off her boastful support of charter schools delivered to the 1999 NEA convention (at which no one applauded) and instead told the convention she supported charters that dont drain public schools of their funds. (N.B. Thats code for states that dont require money to follow kids and happen to have the worst laws and least number of charters). A slight glimmer of hope for reformers came as Obama spoke of merit pay as a means of raising salaries for teachers, though that issue goes against the union brass. But sadly, the fight for independence didnt seem to rub off on these pandering presidential candidates this year. Theres always time, however if reformers get aggressive with their own demands for what they want to hear.
These quotes are from the CER dispatch. The quotes from Biden and Obama are in the spirit of vigorous disagreement, of course (as is the presence of Huckabee at a teachers’ union event):
“Thats what candidates do when they come to the NEA.” — Michael Tobmann from Democrats for Education Reform commenting on Clinton and other Democrats criticism of vouchers.
“We know what we need to do, and its not No Child Left Behind. We have to stop focusing on test scores.” — Sen. Joe Biden commenting before the NEA on what we need to do without explaining what we need to do.
“I might look as out of place as Michael Moore at the NRA convention.” — Gov. Mike Huckabee, the only Republican candidate who accepted the NEAs invitation to the convention.
“You didn’t devote your lives to testing, you devoted it to teaching, and teaching is what you should be allowed to do.” — Sen. Barack Obama commenting on testing under No Child Left Behind, which he called one of the emptiest slogans in the history of American politics.