Election 2012: Does either presidential candidate offer hope on education?

A shorter version of this guest column ran today on the op-ed education page that I edit for the print AJC.  You are getting the uncut version. This piece by University of Arkansas associate professor Chris Goering reflects the concerns many educators feel about this upcoming presidential election: They don’t think either candidate has it right on education.

In the next two months, I hope to run more pieces on both the election and the charter school amendment vote in Georgia that is attracting national interest and money. If you have something to say on either and want to submit a piece, please email me at mdowney@ajc.com

By Chris Goering

Mr. President: On Education, You Can’t Handle the Truth

In November of 2008 and again in January of 2009, I have never been as proud to be an American as I was when you were elected and then subsequently sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. Before those two great days, I had lost a lot of faith in our country and especially in its leadership under your predecessor. This small town Kansas boy turned English teacher sobbed tears of joy while sitting and watching your acceptance speech in my now home of Fayetteville, Arkansas. I was proud of you, sir; I had a bumper sticker and a yard sign. Unfortunately, four years later I have a more powerful memory of the day after your inauguration, January 20th, the day your friend Arne Duncan was sworn in as your Secretary of Education.

The truth about what you and your secretary have done to education, unless you reverse course immediately, most assuredly has cost you the votes of many teachers in this country, a demographic that should be strong in their support of you. This isn’t to say I like your opponent or think his education plan is any better—the fact your secretary’s name is being considered for retention if Romney were to win the election in November puts voters like me who care about public education in a no-win situation. Mr. Obama, while I hate to invoke words of yet another Hollywood star given the recent talking chair episode, about education, “you can’t handle the truth.” The education record that you’ve been touting around the country in recent weeks is nothing more than empty political rhetoric. Your education record is awful, perhaps the worst in the history of our country. And that’s saying something.

You’ve said recently that Race to the Top is a great success. Truthfully, Race to the Top takes the worst aspects of the Bush administration’s education policies and gives them teeth and financial backing. In my now 13th year in education, I’ve witnessed those same policies destroy teaching and learning in the schools, turning children and teachers into automatons for standardized testing. As a teacher and teacher educator I often felt like I was sitting on a deck chair of the Titanic. While the Bush Administration steered us directly towards the iceberg of NCLB, Arne has managed to hit five more icebergs while claiming that the boat is at fault.

Let’s talk for a second about the neo-liberal agenda your leadership has encouraged. Privatizing education is the equivalent of the Bush era Wall Street policy, heavy with idea candy like free trade, open markets, and deregulation ended in disaster in 2008. A neoliberal education agenda, one in love with oversimplified metrics of progress like test scores, promises a bleak future. Mr. President, how could you? You’ve argued for four years that Wall Street needed more oversight to prevent the bailout situation you admirably faced in your first year as president. Your move in health care mirrored your perspective on Wall Street (I support both initiatives wholeheartedly, by the way). But who will save our schools once they crash like Wall Street? We are heading for an educational meltdown of Wall Street proportions, and I think you and your education secretary/agenda will and should be blamed for part of it, an offense that will land you and Arne in the same conversations that the country has had about Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney and their role in torturing prisoners. Who will protect our children from the educational equivalents of Bain Capital, vultures hungry to buy schools and then shut them down for financial gain?

Current policy looks like educational waterboarding in the classrooms I visit. Strapping teachers and children to unrealistic standards and goals and repeatedly beating them upside the head with standardized tests that experts believe tell us next to nothing about what a child can actually do, is sustained torture with awful consequences for all of us, for our country’s future. When creativity is seined out of a curriculum by focusing on narrow standards (i.e., No Child Left Behind) who — teachers, students, administrators — wants to do that? I’m afraid this approach is designed to create less informed populace, one that is easier to control.

You see sir, what is most disappointing to me as a member of your party, is the fact that the people who will really be hurt by school vouchers, semi-private charter schools, and your war on teachers (see tenure, tying test scores to pay, and tying teachers’ students’ test scores to teacher preparation), is not the millionaire and billionaire heirs of the Romney-like fortunes, it will be the people in this country you’ve said, over and over, you are here to protect. A neo-liberal education agenda will benefit the one percenters and the people resting somewhere between the 1 percent and upper middle class. The poor will be left out in the cold without a decent public school to attend and without any hope for upward mobility, educationally speaking.

If you know that what I’ve said here is right, and I think you do, I urge you to take the following actions immediately in hopes that you can save the election and more importantly, save American education. First, unceremoniously fire Arne Duncan with prejudice for subverting your vision of America through his department’s education policies. What didn’t work on Wall Street or in the health care industry surely won’t work in our classrooms. We need a great public education system. Go ahead and cut a wide swath through the education department and see who is pulling the strings. Act swiftly. Immediately stop Race to the Top. Our children and our future are not for sale. Immediately stop No Child Left Behind—the do-nothing congress of the last four years needs to pass an elementary and secondary education act and perhaps your remaining political chips could be spent on that.

Finally, I urge you to take swift action in pressing pause on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. While I don’t hate them for what they are, I do hate them for how they were handed to our country, through doublespeak and lies. Have you really looked deeply in the “evidence” that supports these standards? It is a joke and quite frankly, you should know better. Do you really think a single state would have adopted those standards if you hadn’t forced the states, in their financial time of desperation, to sign on to CCSS in order to be eligible for more money? And the fact that private philanthropic foundations (i.e., Gates Foundation) are driving these changes is more than a little off-putting.

No third grader needs to be tested for 34 days of a school year, something happening in schools around your country. The education crisis (bad schools, bad teachers, low achieving students) is largely manufactured, carefully and purposefully misconstrued by those large corporation-types who don’t want to support public education. You just had those same arguments with the health care power brokers so this shouldn’t surprise you. You must turn that same sort of attention to our nation’s schools. They are dying an increasingly quick, Jack Kevorkian-like death.

I shudder to think what sort of precedent your first term policies will lead to if you are not re-elected this November. If Mitt Romney wins this election, he’ll be pushing the school choice agenda as he addressed over and over in his acceptance of his party’s nomination. You see, school choice is another way of saying “privatize,” “de-regulate,” and eventually “defund” public education—this will have grave consequences for America and we need you to act swiftly, Mr. President, to stop this advancing agenda (one you’ve been at least complicit to up to this point).

I’m sorry to write this letter. I still swell with pride and emotion when I hear you speak and listen to your ideas about our country. You’ve given me a lot of hope, and I still have hope for you, but let’s be honest, your education record is not something you should be touting. While you have been saving our auto industry and pushing health care coverage for all Americans, the formative years of our nation’s youth has been abducted and held for ransom. It is not too late to make sure that educators who feel like I do (and I assure you they number in the tens of thousands) vote for you on election day. We are not likely to show up at the polls to vote against you, but the way things are going, the truth for us is that we feel like we replaced a rabid cat (Bush era education policy) with a rabid dog (your education policy) in 2008 and neither provides much hope.

Your former (and hopefully future) supporter,

Chris Goering

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

54 comments Add your comment

Fred ™

September 17th, 2012
9:08 am

I know it’s a tired, trite, old statement, but education should be on the LOCAL level. When the Republicans that run this state fail in their constitutional duty to fund education, and we let them, what hope or right do we have to expect the feds to do so?

William Casey

September 17th, 2012
9:23 am

America has traditionally aspired to do something that no other nation has ever attempted: provide a quality education to each and every child. We have often failed. Where there was once a consensus that public education was good for the country, there seems now to be a movement toward scapegoating public education for every ill that afflicts our society. I don’t believe that Presidents can do very much about this.


September 17th, 2012
9:26 am

Romney offers hope. If anyone that dumb can make a ton of money, there is hope for ATL!

Cindy Lutenbacher

September 17th, 2012
9:37 am

Amen, Chris. I agree with almost every statement. Well-said.

John Konop

September 17th, 2012
9:46 am

The two biggest issues that have hurt education is when we stop tracking kids by aptitude and promoted equal results over equal access. No Child Left Behind put this concept on steroids. The other major mistake was killing vocational based education, rather ironic when we have 4 million job openings in that category. BTW both parties have their hands all over this mess.


September 17th, 2012
9:53 am

Agreed @ John Konop….as a teacher, there is no candidate worth voting for in terms of education. And I will add that the state is as bad as the Feds on this one….


September 17th, 2012
9:56 am

I’ve told my students that my president believes that in order to prove that I am a good teacher I must test, test, and test some more. When I’m done with all that, test again…… I will proudly say that as a delegate to the NEA representative assembly in 2011, I voted against the early endorsement of President Obama…. that being said, he is very much the lesser of two evils in this election….

“There are so many colors in the rainbow, so many colors in the morning sun, so many colors in the flower, and I see every one.” – Harry Chapin


September 17th, 2012
10:02 am

I don’t share my “love” for Obama as Professor Goering states, but I do agree with him being against “privatizing schools.” Neither candidate offers any effective solutions to deal with our current crisis of this country’s educational system. So, in that respect, isn’t it about time to take the Federal Government completely out of the educational system–including the Federal Department of Education? And, let the states take control.


September 17th, 2012
10:20 am

Thank you, Chris. Well said.


September 17th, 2012
10:27 am

when public education becomes about the administration, teachers, and money, then it’s destined to fail. For some reason, we have wed ourselves to the current model, and any attempt to change that model is met with the claim that that person is “attacking public schools”.

Education needs to first and foremost be about educating students. Until that is the overriding consideration (not tenure, benefits, money for the admin, etc), then stupid decisions will continue to be made…..like consigning poor kids who can’t afford private school to attend their local failing school, full of kids that will ridicule (and worse) those few who really want to better themselves through education.

Mary Elizabeth

September 17th, 2012
10:54 am

The reality is that voters have only two choices for President of the United States in November. Gov. Romney’s Republican Party advocates for the privatization of public education. President Obama, on the other hand, basically supports public education, enhanced with support through public charter schools. President Obama stated in his address to the DNC two weeks ago that in voting for him and the Democratic Party, voters would chose a candidate who does not plan to “gut education.”

My remarks on Jay Bookman’s blog at 10:30 am, today, in response to another poster will draw the stark differences between these two candidates for President, relative to their separate educational visions and the effect of each on our nation’s destiny.

” ‘The charter school amendment is no more about education than the right wing’s constant ranting about deficits and debt is actually about fiscal prudence.

It’s about redistribution of wealth upwards, pure and simple.’

You have analyzed correctly. And, that change to public education, if it is allowed to occur, will end up giving voice to only the few of power and wealth in this nation, such as Wal-Mart enterprises and Koch Industries, instead of voice to the many. That is a main reason why Thomas Jefferson advocated for public education – to keep power in the hands of the many and so that the many would be educated to be able to see into the machinations of the wealthy and powerful elite few who might use the unknowing masses for their own self-interested purposes.

Genuine public education is the very foundation of our democratic republic, and Jefferson knew it, and that is why he had engraved on his tombstone, ‘Founder of the University of Virginia’ and ‘Author of the Declaration of Independence,’ and not ‘President of the United States of America.’ ”

The privatization of America’s public schools – or not – is what is on the line between choosing either the Democratic or the Republican candidate for President of the U. S., in November’s election, imo.


September 17th, 2012
10:56 am

Very. Well. Said.

bootney farnsworth

September 17th, 2012
10:59 am

nope. one will be bad, the other worse.


September 17th, 2012
11:35 am


September 17th, 2012
11:47 am

Quite the quandry; in order for either candidate to get my vote, he is going to have to have to say some pretty honest and unpopular things about society and education, which will make him lose the election. Very sad.

WhiteWolf of the Bones

September 17th, 2012
11:49 am

The dumbing down of the educational system continues. It is working as planned. The people will hue and cry as they now see what has been happening but it is too late to stop it. The people don’t realize that they contributed to this dumbing down by their own apathy. There are those who have aware of this for decades, and their words of warning have fallen upon deaf ears. But those who are discerning enough, and willing to educate themselves, can easily see the whole picture. Really look at the history of education, mark the trends, the ideas, and who has led the pack. Mark the dots, draw the lines, and really look at the emerging picture. They haven’t even tried to hide it, and the sheeple are willing to accept any lies, as long as are fed well. The masters are not benign, benevolent parents. And Uncle Sam does not love anyone. Slaves are useful only as long as they serve a purpose. But when it becomes too expensive to keep them, then they get sold to the highest bidder…or worse, simply expendable.

Robin Eubanks has some interesting things to say on this subject, and I wonder how many of you have actually thought about some of these things, and done your own research on the subject.


“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”…without it we certainly don’t have anything else.

Hillbilly D

September 17th, 2012
12:05 pm

In my opinion, the only role the Federal government should play in education is to insure that nobody is denied access to one. Education policy should be determined at the state and local level, with the main emphasis being on the local level.

Mortimer Collins

September 17th, 2012
12:15 pm

It simply doesnt matter. Once the rules, guidelines, cash have trickled down to the State, County City level its all been diluted or stolen for the sake of political correctness.


September 17th, 2012
12:29 pm

… I’m afraid this approach is designed to create less informed populace, one that is easier to control….

Exactly. It is obvious, to anyone who pays attention to such things, that the government is using the educational system to create a situation in which the people are unable to understand or question what the government is doing. It is the beginning of the end of our country.


September 17th, 2012
12:33 pm

Education SHOULD be on the local level….but when you have clustered it up like APS, for example, folks are ready to try anything. I stated earlier on another blog; who is going to move to Atlanta to a place where their kids hit an inner-city school. Except for a few crusaders, very few. Folks are so tired of seeing their tax money go to waste they are willing to try any and every thing! Of course everything would be better than what there is now. Again, call it racist, elitist, etc. Check back in five years and see where APS is………………..folks will have come uP with something totally new to try by then. As long as folks keep this mess in office, they will have NO CHOICE!

Entitlement Society

September 17th, 2012
1:43 pm

Right on, skipper! “Except for a few crusaders, very few.” And those few crusaders are willing to sacrifice the education of their very own children while they fight the battle. Admirable, but as a parent, I want the best for my child, and that’s certainly not APS. After one miserable year of APS, I realized that one, involved family cannot change a system and make a difference. I refuse to let my children be the guinea pigs while the system is reformed. I doubt that will occur by the time they hit college (they’re in elementary now).

Entitlement Society

September 17th, 2012
1:49 pm

@mathmom – Really? You think the government is intentionally “using the educational system to create a situation in which the people are unable to understand or question what the government is doing?” Talk about a conspiracy theory. How sad is it that you think the majority of American are too dumb to think for themselves and let themselves be brainwashed? I don’t let my children attend government schools, but it certainly isn’t because I think the government has designed the education system to create a less informed populace. It’s just poorly run. Why would such a great nation intentionally run itself into the ground as you believe?


September 17th, 2012
2:16 pm

Hope for what, more of my tax money to pay bloated salaries? Education already gets too much tax money, we need to reduce the amount of money going to education, not hope for more. Look at the global economy, thousands of construction cranes in China now sit idle, the Chinese economy is slowing dramatically. Europe is even worse off. Our economy is facing a fiscal cliff, and even with massive “stimulus” is not even holding its own let along growing. No more tax money for education, we cannot afford it, and the product we get for our hard earned money is defective. I see the universities are full of kids seeking PhD’s, running up massive debt in doing so. There is little hope they will ever be able to use those expensive degrees in a professional job. Of course, the the liberals all want student loan forgiveness, I say NEVER.

William Casey

September 17th, 2012
2:31 pm

@Solutions: If I shared your view of the future, I’d consider self-termination. You should change your alias to “no solutions.” Have a nice day.


September 17th, 2012
2:34 pm

Hillbilly D,
For the most part, you are right, but (see my previous post) a brownie troop could (and probably would) do a better job than APS……at what point would there be a clause that stated “When the most incompetant systems in the state (APS and Bibb County come to mind) prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they cannot pour pi$$ out of a boot, _______ will officially take over.”


September 17th, 2012
2:34 pm

I know I may be a bit off target here….and I’m so sure someone will say tell them to put their house on the market and place all their belongings on E-Bay! But, the problem I have is this…years ago I can recall it being rather easy to get a job without a secondary education…then someone came up with the bright idea that in order to climb the “Corporate Ladder” or even get a worthwhile promotion – you had to have a degree. Okay that’s fine, but the problem is – what happens when you get the education from a knock off school – like…let’s say University of Phoenix – and you rack up a bill of more than 60k for a BS – which by the way is worthless, because they had no idea (even after researching) that they had to get a certification in some other thing just to make money in their field…So now they’re getting a statement from the Department of Education and the monthly amount to pay back is more than $700 a month…which of course would be a breeze in their field…but what do you do when you’re only making just under $10.00 an hour??? After job-searching for more than a year to no avail they decide to get a PT job….and even with a part-time job – I can’t see how a person can make their way through this – I am truly terrified at what this will do to their credit. There is something terribly wrong with our system – PERIOD!!!!

Active in Cherokee

September 17th, 2012
2:35 pm

Education should be at the Local & State level – let’s save billions of dollars and rid ourselves of Arne Duncan and everyone in his office. Both parties have contributed to the ‘power-grab’ of education by people that have no professional experience or training in education. Simply put – you wouldn’t trust someone trained to be a plumber to do brain surgery, why do we keep listening to ‘experts’ on education with no training and/or experience in the field? I don’t see a candidate that supports education.


September 17th, 2012
3:23 pm

Arne Duncan and Eric Holder……thats all, folks!

Old timer

September 17th, 2012
3:39 pm

Public education was developed during the industrial revolution to create worker bees… Not excellence. During the 50s and 60s excellence was pushed to compete in the Cold War. Now education, to ensure equality is so poor few learn anything and receive very high grades.
I believe education should be returned to local control with money being left where it is. All those beaurocrates can find another job. Let teachers teach and administrators be responsible for their school. Misbehaving children can be removed and sent else where. Allow schools to compete on the open market with each other.
One more thing…Chicago teachers…shut up and go back to work….no one is getting raises and everyone is being evaluated on how well there students are doing…sorry your kids are doing poorly, but that is the breaks…..

John Konop

September 17th, 2012
3:40 pm

I heard Jeb Bush on Morning Joe, he even said that for 33% of students the system works. He claims it is all about the other 66%. On a macro this issue is fairly simple. The vast majority of that 66% would be better served with vocational/tech type training like what is done in most countries, not a one size fit all 4 year college bound ie No Child Left Behind. This is why on a macro charter schools have not worked. Because in general it does not deal with the above CORE problem. I do understand in places like APS how charter schools can help. But in general this is a real distraction from solving the problem. And in places like East Cobb, West Cobb, North Fulton, Cherokee…….the 4 year college bound students are achieving way above national averages. The drop –out rates are really about non 4 year college bound kids being forced into a system that forces the students into a no win situation via the lack of vocational choices combined with all students required to take 4 year bound college class work to graduate. Does that really make any sense for ALL vocational students?

Ironnically I use to deabte the Kathy Cox crowd on how this would hurt public education. Now some of the same people wonder why they are facing the charter school issue.


September 17th, 2012
3:55 pm

One thing we should ALL agree on is the Governor’s State Wide Charter School Plan is definitely not the answer and this proposal should be rejected out of hand on November 6th. This plan will only add fire to an already bad situation. $430 million dollars is only just the initial investment to be spent on this already failed plan. The proposed $430 million dollars should be used to improve the many failing schools within the current school systems statewide. Never should this amount be spent on the return on so few students. It is Not Practical and Not Wise by any means.

Mountain Man

September 17th, 2012
3:57 pm

Well, you could vote for Sonny Perdue over Roy Barnes…

Once Again

September 17th, 2012
4:02 pm

Of course neither offers hope. Neither one favors shutting down the Department of Education and getting the federal government completely out of the education business. Until that happens, the states will be seriously restricted in what they can do to get the state government and the state legislatures out of the “education” business.

So long as government continues meddling in what should be handled completely by parents, business people, and the competitive free market, there is absolutely NO hope for education in this country.

Mountain Man

September 17th, 2012
4:07 pm

Oldtimer @ 3:39 – I would rather suggest that the striking teachers i Chicago all quit en masse. Then when the school system needs to hire teachers, they can apply for the job openings and demand higher salaries. Or Chicago can just use their administrators to teach. As the old saying goes, those who cant teach, go into administration!

bootney farnsworth

September 17th, 2012
4:14 pm

@ solutions

you go, buddy.
fight for Georgia’s right to be ignorant.

cue Pink Floyd, anyone?

bootney farnsworth

September 17th, 2012
4:16 pm

does anyone really think Obama and Romney represent the best we have to offer?

Old Physics Teacher

September 17th, 2012
4:38 pm

Entitlement Society,

Over the years I’ve had people tell me that JFK was killed by the Mafia, that we never went to the moon, and now that BO is from Kenya. They’re all loons.

That being said, I agree more with mathmom than you. Here are two homilies: “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it might be a choo choo train, BUT IT’S PROBABLY A DUCK! ” The other one is what I heard from my daddy many, many years ago: “I can’t hear what you’re saying. Your actions are speaking too loudly.”

There are some good people at the DOE (especially now – that might change in the next elections, though), but the guys in charge? Like the legislatures – state and federal? I agree with mathmom. If they’re not trying to destroy public education (for example calling them derogatorily “government schools” — you wouldn’t call the US Marines “government soldiers,” would you — not to their faces anyway!) the effect is just the same. They vote the way “the money” tells them to, and the money is toward charter and private schools.

Hillbilly D

September 17th, 2012
4:56 pm

Skipper @ 2:34

That’s a good point but the folks who live in the APS territory need to vote out their school board, if that’s the case. I guess the only choices are vote out those running things now or move, if they can’t afford private school. It’s a conundrum for sure.

does anyone really think Obama and Romney represent the best we have to offer?

If they are it doesn’t say much for the rest of us in the 300+ million.


September 17th, 2012
5:16 pm

William Casey – I am not worried about myself or my family, we are well provided for both financially and educationally. It is you 99%ers that I direct my dire warnings at.

Gina McNair

September 17th, 2012
5:17 pm

If public schools are “government schools” and private schools are “private,” then what do we call public charter schools backed by state dollars flowing to private education corporation? Private government schools?

[...] The teacher who wrote it asked to remain anonymous: I  just wanted to express my thoughts on the most recent  “Get Schooled” blog message to the President. [...]


September 17th, 2012
5:28 pm

Have you all read the CCGPS curriculum written by the Georgia Department of Education? It is full of errors, links that don’t work, and tasks that don’t link to the learning goals. This is what teachers are expected to teach to students, so they can be tested on it, and teachers and students will then be assessed by its results. Meanwhile, look at the actual documents. http://www.georgiastandards.org

It is disheartening. No one seems to actual care about WHAT WORKS for students.

Every year there are no buzz words in education. Teachers should be given the respect to teach in the way they know works best for each student. Period. Lose all of the fads and allow us to do what we do best.

People outside of the profession love to place blame on the schools and teachers. If they only had a clue what was wrong with education. Come sit in my room for a day, and then tell me that you think it is my fault or the school’s fault. I welcome you. Watch the parent conferences before the bell rings, the hours spent meeting with small groups of children to make sure everyone’s needs are being met. The tutoring afterschool. The work I take home to prepare for the next day. The rewriting of lesson plans, year after year, because someone else has some “great” idea that has no actual benefit to the children (and will be omitted by the end of the schol year, and changed with something new). Come on in.


September 17th, 2012
5:32 pm

Arne Duncan and Race to the Top. Need I say more?

Jerry Eads

September 17th, 2012
5:45 pm

Nicely done, Chris. Jerry Bracey would be very pleased. It saddens me deeply to suggest that as much as I wish him to, Barack is not listening. Arne never has – he clearly has as much clue about education as he has expertise in it.

I would offer that at least Gates knows that he MUST have an educated workforce capable of critical reasoning for companies like his to survive, and I think from what I see his efforts through his foundation generally reflect that. Can’t say the same for the P.T. Barnum-ish shysters whose game is to economically resegregate the schools via vouchers and charters.

Let’s not forget that the public school system – like democracy – has plenty of flaws. Addressable, if not with the naively simplistic blather of typical political policy. But without public schools developing a responsible citizenry it seems terribly unlikely that we will continue to have a democracy (I know, a republic, but let’s not split hairs at the moment). And right now, both parties seem to be doing their level best to ensure their demise.

long time educator

September 17th, 2012
6:36 pm

I truly am an undecided voter; I don’t like either candidate. I always vote, so I will make a choice, but there are so many things I don’t like about both of them. I am tempted to vote Libertarian just to register a protest to the two main parties. Both traditional parties are bought and paid for by people with money and the rest of us don’t really matter. I agree with Chris Goering; neither party has a clue about education. They both seem seriously intent on destroying public education. The complaints they have about public schools is really an indictment of the social problems of poverty, joblessness and crime. Children raised in those circumstances do not score well on standardized tests no matter WHO teaches them. I still dare any district to swap the faculties of their highest performing school with their lowest performing school. If the teacher is truly that pivotal, the results should be amazing! And the results will be shocking to those who believe that the teacher is that pivotal, because I would bet alot of money that the test scores would not show much difference because the key causes, social problems, of low test scores would not have been addressed. I am still making a positive difference in my little corner of the education world, but I despair for the future of public education in our country as a whole, and, because of that, the future of our country and the next generation.

long time educator

September 17th, 2012
6:43 pm

After rereading last post, it should read “The complaints they have about public schools ARE really an indictment…”. Sorry.


September 17th, 2012
8:38 pm

You could pay each teacher $1M a year, but you’d still have the same students, from the same families. There’s nothing wrong with education. There’s a LOT wrong with some of our society and teachers pay the price every day.

Karen Mitcham

September 17th, 2012
9:26 pm

Chris, You have stated what all of us have been bemoaning. I hope someone in the administration with President Obama’s ear will encourage him to resist continuing complicity with the testing behemoths.


September 17th, 2012
10:16 pm

I think the answer is No for both candidates. My son would be part of the 66% for whom the system doesn’t work. Part of the problem is using testing to divide who the system does and doesn’t work for. How about evaluating each child’s growth instead? Extend the timeline for completing credits since not everyone learns at the same pace? Offer accelerated programs for kids with a quicker learning curve? We don’t necessarily have to relegate kids to vocational just because they can’t meet the timeline, although for some it is a viable option. We need options-and no I’m not talking about state charter schools. We need options within our existing schools since the infrastructure is already there.

All hope is not lost for the 66%: I did a lesson with my son on homophones last week. I wanted to test his understanding (he has some language difficulties and sometimes he says “the word is there but my brain won’t let my mouth say it.” He completed a worksheet satisfactorily but I wanted to test his verbal comprehension so I asked him to describe to me what a homophone was. He thought about it for a few minutes and then looked at me and very proudly said “a noun!”

We need options neither side is considering.

Entitlement Society

September 18th, 2012
7:30 am

Since when is “government schools” a derogatory term? It’s calling a spade a spade. A government employee is a government employee and they don’t get all worked over it.

Public schools are run by the government for the masses. Thus, they are “government schools.” Perhaps those taking offense by the term know those government (aka public) schools often are vastly inferior to other non-government (aka non-public) options out there and feel the need to defend them. Why else would they have a problem with the term that correctly identifies the governing body?