It would appear more than likely that Hillary Clinton will be elected as the next president of the United States come next fall.
She can be thankful in no small part to the major role that the teacher organizations in the nation such as the National Educational Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) played in their early endorsement of her presidency. Public school teachers and parents are fighting the battle of their lives in attempting to hold off the forces of privatization along with the onslaught of charter schools in the nation.
Sadly, theses forces of privatization received major support from Arne Duncan, the former Secretary of Education appointed by President Barack Obama. No other Education Secretary, especially Democratic, has done more to privatize and weaken public education than Arne Duncan who was also obsessed with standardized testing. Under his regime, public schools across the nation experienced two failed programs with Race to the Top (RTTT) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS). His so-called “testocracy” grossly neglected the impact of childhood poverty on learning for children from impoverished homes.
Likewise, under Duncan’s time in office, we have witnessed the demise of the neighborhood school and the growth of charter schools, all with corporate sponsors. Hence, it was obvious that former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was not a public school advocate but rather a paid shill who was in the pockets of the corporate reformers and the testing industry.
If Clinton is elected as president in 2016, it will not take very long for both the NEA and the AFT to know whether their early presidential endorsement has been wasted, as was the case following Barack Obama’s nomination eight years ago in his selection of Duncan as Secretary of Education. Whether Clinton chooses someone to serve as Secretary of Education who will undo the disastrous harm that Duncan has inflicted on public education in his eight years remains to be seen. Will she choose another corporate reformer or will she surprise everyone with an appointment of someone who will be a true advocate of public education and who is widely respected by the supporters of public education in the nation?
One who comes to mind as a possible choice and someone who has a proven track record over the years in her support of public education and teachers is Diane Ravitch, author of the best selling book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Education. Dr. Ravitch has had experience as Assistant Secretary of Education during the George W. Bush administration, so she possesses firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of the U.S. Department of Education. Ravitch has traveled the country giving speeches to teacher groups and parents. There is no other individual the corporate reformers fear more for she is, without question, the nation’s greatest public school advocate. Her blog, dianeravitch.com is read by millions of educators and parents throughout the nation.
Aside from being very knowledgeable and a huge advocate for public education, she is a highly competent and distinguished educator, who has a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently an historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University.
Indeed, if Hillary Clinton wishes to demonstrate her support for public education in the United States there is no better way to prove it to teachers and parents by appointing an individual such as Dr. Ravitch to be the next Secretary of Education and who will, undoubtedly, lead the charge of restoring public education to its rightful place in the United States.
Joseph Ricciotti is a retired educator.
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