Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Democratic Party Platform on Education

I previously published a blog titled PartyPlatforms and Public Education (click here to read) in which I noted the key elements of the Republic Party education platform.  In the interest of fair and balanced “reporting”, the following are the “highlights” of the Democratic Party platform.  (Source: https://www.democrats.org/issues/education).
-        We’re dedicated to ensuring the next generation has access to a quality education and the tools to drive our economy forward.
-        Our country is strongest when our workers are trained with the knowledge and ingenuity to perform at the highest levels. Every child should have the opportunity to reach that horizon and to fulfill the American Dream.
-        The Obama administration is working to overhaul the “No Child Left Behind” program and provide teachers with more professional support and resources — while also holding them accountable.
-        President Obama instituted “Race to the Top,” a revolutionary program designed to promote innovation and provide incentives for improvement in education. As a result, dozens of states have made changes to increase standards and implement reforms.
-        Democrats recognize education as the most pressing economic issue in America’s future, and we cannot allow our country to fall behind in a global economy. We must prepare the next generation for success in college and the workforce.
Candidly, both parties are missing the boat when it comes to having definitive plans on how to address the challenges and opportunities for public education in this country.  Both are long (well, that may be an exaggeration!) on ideas but very short on action plans to accomplish their respective goals.  And that has to be more disappointing than the platforms themselves.  How can we expect to provide opportunities for students if we don’t more specific goals and plans to achieve these goals?  Wouldn’t it be somewhat analogous to saying we want all students to achieve but then not look to our teachers to develop and deliver lesson plans that afford students the opportunity to do so?  It doesn’t just happen!

Our students deserve better!  Regardless of where we stand relative to issues of accountability, funding and funding sources, or “school choice”, we must do better.  Education in general, and public education in particular, has become one of those lightning rods where the focus is more on the political angle than it is on the students themselves.  At some point, we need to step back and make an effort to address the issues (including achievement gap, dropout rates, low performing schools, etc.) that seem to serve as fodder for discussion.  If education truly is “the most pressing economic issue in America’s future”, what are we doing to address the issue?   An issue without a plan to resolve remains simply an issue.  Our students have a right to expect that they will be given opportunities to succeed; it is incumbent upon all of us to make these a reality and to Make Education a Priority with both political parties.

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