Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Steven Singer’s GadflyOnTheWallBlog. Check out his great work documenting the attacks on public education and the teachers, parents, and students who are fighting back. Check out all his work HERE.
It really all comes down to this.
You can talk all day about delegates and superdelegates.
You can talk about political experience, likeability, and authenticity. You can talk about political dynasties, union endorsements and campaign ads. You can talk about how many people show up at who’s rallies and who did what during the Civil Rights movement.
That’s it. Sold.
Everything else is nice. It adds to the appeal, but that one essential reason is enough to tip the scales – knock them over, really – to Bernie’s favor.
America’s parents and teachers are fighting a battle for our children’s schools. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stand against us. They are giving away the store. They are selling our system of public education – once the envy of the world – to for-profit corporations piece-by-piece.
And only Bernie truly stands against them.
It’s not about who said what. It doesn’t matter if he slipped up and said something ignorant about “public charter schools.” It doesn’t matter if Hillary Clinton, too, has occasionally criticized charters.
What matters is that standing against privatization is the backbone of the Sanders campaign. It is the bedrock which supports all of his other platforms. It is the foundation of his entire career in politics.
Might he screw it up once in office? Sure. He’s only human. But the odds are in our favor that he’ll actually improve things.
Hillary Clinton is an intelligent, capable politician. She is not the evil witch that the Right paints her to be. However, her campaign is largely supported by the same people who are privatizing our schools. They aren’t giving her all that money for her to act against their interests.
Might she make some compromises that forestall the worst effects of privatization? Sure. But odds are against us that she’ll be much help. The best scenario we can expect from another Clinton administration is a continuation of the status quo – a status quo that has dramatically increased school privatization.
There are worse things, but can’t we do better than vote for 4-8 more years of slow educational death?
If privatization is the first front of the war against public schools, standardization is the second. Schools are being forced to march in lockstep with Common Core Standards while giving a barrage of high stakes tests.
Both Sanders and Clinton have spotty records here. Sanders voted against the terrible No Child Left Behind legislation that spawned the beast, while Clinton helped nurture it. However, just this year Sanders joined Congressional Democrats trying to continue the era of test and punish through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – some of which failed and some of which became part of the final law.
But it doesn’t really matter.
Standardization is the claw of the beast. Privatization is the beast, itself.
High stakes testing is the justification for privatization. Low test scores at under-resourced schools are the excuse for turning them into charters. If Sanders stops the move to charterize, he removes the reason to standardize. A dead lion will not use its claws.
Moreover, he’s had some genuinely good ideas about how best to improve our schools. It was Sanders who inserted into the ESSA a provision allowing some states to develop alternatives to standardized testing.
While most Democrats champion increasing funding to the neediest districts, they blame their inability to do so on the Republicans. Meanwhile, Sanders has proposed rewriting the way schools are funded in the first place. He is the only mainstream candidate with a plan to ensure every school in America receives equitable funding. His solution: federalize pubic school budgets similar to the Scandinavian model that has been proven effective. Is it a risk? Sure. Might it not work? Sure. But at least Bernie has new ideas that could potentially do more than just put Band-Aids on decades of wrongheaded school policies.
This is radically more than just fighting privatization – it is turning it around in its tracks. Only Bernie is actually suggesting a robust, equitable education for all children from preschool through college.
THAT’S why I support Bernie Sanders. THAT’S why I can’t wait to cast my vote in the Pennsylvania primary. THAT’S why so many teachers, parents and concerned citizens are feeling the Bern.
Come join the Revolution already in progress.
It is our fight to win or lose.