Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Kerry on Education

The fourth chapter of A Call to Service by Senator John Kerry is "The Challenge of Creating World-Class Schools." He tosses out a number of suggestions in this chapter, so many in fact that I cannot possibly include them all here. I'll be offering just a taste of a few of his points. I recommend that everyone read the entire book to get a fuller view of Kerry's vision for America.

He speaks of his frustration regarding the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, which he sponsored. Although not perfect, he saw this Act as having the potential to introduce a good bipartisan reform in education. This is how Kerry describes what followed the passing of this act; "But before the ink was even dry on the act, the president abandoned the new bargain by denying states and school districts the promised federal resources."

Here is how Kerry attempts to make sense of this paradox;

...The abandonment of the grand bargain of more resources and flexibility in exchange for results sets up education reform for failure - a failure that could well sour the American people as a whole on the possibility of substantive positive changes in our public schools.

There is no question that there are those in the Administration - and even more so, in the Republican Party - who would applaud this development. Some conservatives openly oppose education reform because they don't consider public schools worth saving. They prefer subsidies to go to private schools that have no accountability for achieving specific educational results, letting market forces dictate what knowledge and skills we want our children to possess. Many Republicans are absolutists when it comes to moral standards of right and wrong but, ironically, are relativists when it comes to educational standards of knowledge and ignorance.
- A Call to Service,
pp. 105-106
I'm pleased to see Kerry come out and say what many know to be true, but rarely hear from Washington; the plan is to force public education into failure by starving it, so a voucher system can be established, which will eventually privatize education, and make it accessible only to those who have the means to pay for it.

Over time, the government will cut back on subsidizing vouchers, because of "budget restraints," which will assure that "those people" will end up where they belong; in privatized prisons, where they will be used as slave labor and be removed from the gene pool. Of course, John Kerry would not use such harsh words, but I have no hesitation in giving them voice.

The right to a public education is one of the greatest gifts we have to offer our citizens. The attempt to make a profit from education while denying it to low income families needs to be called for what it is; capitalism and elitism gone wild.

Much of Kerry's plan to reform education focuses on recruiting and supporting top-notch teachers and stopping the move to micromanage our schools;

First, we need to place more emphasis on teaching and less on bureaucracy. Look at most school boards in this country and you will see a classic industrial-age bureaucracy seeking to own and operate every aspect of public education and to micromanage the activities of everyone working in the schools...many public schools are governed by a system that neither provides effective leadership at the top nor accepts leadership in individual schools or classrooms. The result is that no one is really held responsible for the education of our kids. The managers of our public schools, the superintendents and principals, are often left to be scapegoats for complaints by parents and taxpayers...

...We need to give public institutions more freedom from micromangement in exchange for strict accountability for achieving tangible improvements in knowledge and skills of our children.
_ A Call,
pp. 106-107.
For those wanting a summary in the form of a campaign promise;

If I'm elected president, I will make lifting the performance of public schools and giving them the tools and flexibility to succeed the top educational priority of my administration.
-A Call,
p. 106.
To be continued...


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