Democratic Education Platform: Too Good to be True?

ballot-32201_1280It is an election year.  Which way is the wind blowing?  Judging by the rift over the Democratic Party Platform, testing, accountability, and charter school management could see significant changes….or not.

The draft platform opposed for-profit charter schools.  The amended platform added even many more changes:






  •  Opt out parents would not be penalized.
  •  The use of high stakes test scores for school grades and teacher evaluations would be eliminated.
  •  Public schools would be ‘democratically governed schools’ not those governed by appointed private boards.

According to accounts by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post, the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) views these changes as a rejection of President Obama’s school reform policies.  The AFT, however, supports the changes.  In an article written by Jeff Bryant, AFT President Weingarten is quoted as saying the platform is a ‘refreshing sea change in its approach to public education”.

At last the movement to privatize our public schools is being challenged.  The amended Democratic Party platform passed.  Charters would not be eliminated by the party platform provisions, but their operation must meet new criteria.  Charters would be governed by locally elected boards, required to reveal information about finances and governance, and would not destabilizes or damages the public school system by duplicating existing programs.

There needs to be a way to run public schools in the public interest in a cost effective manner.  It cannot be a cookie cutter approach.  There are legitimate needs for alternative ways to meet student needs.  Alternative strategies, however, must not be irresponsible.  We are up to the challenge.  Our elected officials need to hear from us.



Posted in Charter School Management, Charter Schools, Civil Rights, Reform, Teachers, Testing, US Government.


  1. Interesting thought Sue. As I see it, education began to become broken about 60 years ago. That is when language instruction was altered from the 80% successful traditional methods to more modern methods which have resulted in current ND 46% success and nationally 36% (as I understand). Mathematics education instruction methods were also altered about that same time. They were altered to methods that cannot be used in higher math, this is the current math education 40% success. This has led to a breakdown in math instruction leading to the universal acknowledgment that mathematical education is broken, especially fractions (virtually all President’s Councils on Math and Science). These defects in education methodology have never been seriously addressed. As a result, leaders ignorant about education have tried to force “fixes” like the “test and punish” you mention and all the nonsense programs of that sort. In my opinion, the key to education is to fix the original breaks, return to successful teaching methods and eliminate the need for the bad educational programs that just make education worse.

  2. ND Department of Public Instruction announced they were proud to announce that 46% of students were proficient in English and 40% proficient in math. Is 60% failure fine?

    • The fact that the party adopted the amended platform gives hope that change from the ‘test and punish’ mentality is possible. Given the divide both within and between political parties on educational policy, however, we have more work to do if we are to shift the conversation to how to give all children equal access to a high quality education.

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