Professional Teachers Lack a Presidential Candidate
If you are a teaching professional who is looking to regain the academic responsibilities and shed the disastrous teach-to-the-test reforms of the last decade, or are a parent of a child whose education has been crippled, this is not a good year to look for change in the next president.
Many hoped that President Obama would ditch the disastrous No Child Left Behind program when he came to office three years ago. Instead, he put “NCLB on steroids” and moved educational policy-making to Washington, DC by using “Race to the Top” grants to extort compliance. The National Governors Association pulled a “Benedict Arnold” and handed the federal agency a national curriculum in math and reading which essentially became a requirement of Race to the Top (soon to be followed by a national science core).
In spite of widespread recognition of the damage NCLB, and the impossibility of achieving 100% 100%-student-proficiency-by-2014 (AYP), President Barack Obama and U.S.D.E. Secretary Duncan are pressing ahead with more Race to the Top extortion. Any waivers given to states for relief from the AYP requirement require enforcement of federal educational policy.
The current administration is putting NCLB on super-steroids. Will any Republican alternative move another direction in education?
Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney has an open record on education, having been Governor of Massachusetts and detailed his position in his book: “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.”
When running for Senate in 1994, Romney was for eliminating the U.S.D.E. But now he is a strong advocate of standardized testing and NCLB-style “accountability.” He also advocates keeping some K-12 policy at state level. As Governor, he enforced compliance with state exit exams, advocated for performance-based pay and alternate route teachers.
U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas advocates for removing the federal government from all education policy and closing down the U.S.D.E. He voted against NCLB in 2001. He would also end the federal student loan program for college students.
Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania voted for the NCLB law as Senator. He has moved his children into homeschooling and questions top-down education. During approval of NCLB, he pushed a teach-the-controversy amendment on evolution that failed. So far, there is no indication he would end the overtesting.
While Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman signed a bill to give Utah’s accountability system priority over the NCLB law. Under threat of losing federal Title I money, Utah backed down. On the campaign trail, Huntsman has said that NCLB “hasn’t worked for this country” but it is uncertain whether he would dismantle NCLB.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich allied with Secretary Duncan in wanting even more rigorous school accountability. He favors expanding school choice through vouchers and charter schools, and making the U.S.D.E. smaller, a change from 1995 when as Speaker he supported efforts to eliminate the U.S.D.E.
Despite Texas being the home of NCLB under former-President Bush, Governor Rick Perry has very publicly opposed Race to the Top and would close down the U.S.D.E. Yet, under his leadership, independent Texas remains a basket-case in K–16 education, where lessons are scripted and teaching-to-the-test has replaced teacher professionalism.
Classroom teachers who hope to return to a full day of rich, diverse, exciting teaching that is not limited to getting high scores on a narrow test are really left with no viable Presidential candidate in this round of elections. Our schools continue their transformation into test-prep prisons.
Our only hope is to not wait for the November 2012 elections. Act now. Send a message. Opt our children out of the NCLB assessment testing this spring.