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Est. April 5, 2002

Nov 19, 2020 - Issue 842
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Political Updates and Observations

  • Earlier this week, two White Republican electors attempted political Apartheid in plain sight in Michigan’s Wayne County, when they initially refused to certify the vote count in the largest county in the state where upwards of 45 percent of the voting population is African American. After a public outcry, the vote was reversed.

  • At nearly the same time, Sen. Lindsey Graham (D-SC) called the Republican Georgia Secretary of State and asked him to invalidate mail-in votes in several Georgia counties which would have swung the state to Trump. Fortunately, the Secretary refused the request.

  • President Trump is doing everything in his power to obstruct the orderly and peaceful transfer of power to President-Elect Biden. And he has numerous political sycophants at every level of government echoing his lies of a rigged election and fraud.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democrats’ Minority Leader, should refrain from commenting on the Georgia U.S. Senate elections. Republicans are imploding. He should just let them.

  • The most progressive House Democrats must realize that the Democratic incumbents they defeated in primaries - e.g., Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez v. Joseph Crowley (Inc.), Jamaal Bowman v. Eliot Engel (Inc.), and Cori Bush v. William Lacy Clay (Inc.) - did so because their opponents lost touch with and ignored their districts because they had been in office so long they viewed their seats as personal property.

Public Education was the big loser in the 2020 elections. Amid a pandemic that has claimed over 250,000 lives, Black and low-income children of color, and others, were severely disadvantaged during the move to remote learning. With a majority of those children living in Internet deserts and/or single-parent poor households with limited supervision, public education was on hold.

In addition, K-12 education, other than in policy documents, was rarely mentioned during the presidential campaign. During that silence, the current privatization-focused Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, quietly pushed money to privately-managed charter schools and other efforts to undermine public education.

Biden has stated that he would invest in more resources for schools to enhance students’ physical and emotional development so that teachers could concentrate on their primary mission of instruction. He also targeted school safety, poverty reduction, the increase in teacher diversity, innovative schools in low-income communities, increased funding of programs for children with disabilities, the overall enhancement of technical education, and the expansion of early childhood development programs.

These promises are in stark contrast to Biden’s support of the Obama-Biden administration’s passage of Race To The Top legislation (RTTT) which mandated Draconian accountability measures for teachers and unrestrained increases in unregulated charter schools, denying states access to additional funding if they did not submit to these standards.

Teacher unions played defense of K-12 public education during the eight-year term of the Obama-Biden administration and begrudgingly endorsed the ticket twice as the lesser of two evils. However, perhaps Obama’s most egregious action was declining to appoint Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond to head the Department of Education after intense opposition from the pro-privatization billionaire Cartel that considered her too supportive of teachers and unions.

It instead promoted Arne Duncan, a close friend of President Obama who championed the growth of Chicago’s charter schools while serving as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. At the behest of the Cartel and with their funding, Duncan established a large number of them.

Dr. Darling-Hammond, who chaired Obama’s education transition team (and is also serving in that same role for President-Elect Biden) is, perhaps, America’s most distinguished K-12 educator in theory and practice. She has been a public school teacher, Senior Social Scientist at the RAND Corporation, and Professor at Columbia and Stanford Universities, serving as Dean of the School of Education at the latter.

She has published 20 books and over 500 articles and is well regarded by educators at every level. Darling-Hammond has led policy work on equity, quality and teaching; learning and teaching standards; and has worked with hundreds of schools and districts around the nation on studying, developing, and scaling up new model schools and launching preparation programs for teachers and leaders in public and higher education.

Although an impressive array of individuals has been proposed for appointment as Biden’s Secretary of Education, Darling-Hammond would be the best choice by far.

Her 2010 groundbreaking book, The Flat World and Education (How America’s Commitment To Equity Will Determine Our Future), critiques the rapid racial transformation of the nation’s public school students now making the K-12 population majority-minority. Thus, she is uniquely positioned to meet the challenges the nation will face head on as the next Education Secretary and has the abilities and skills needed to clean up the educational debris Betsy DeVos left behind.

The single presidential term of Donald Trump has left education, and the nation overall, in chaos, disunity, debt, and with a public health crisis. This perilous educational period demands someone who is equipped with a broad skill-set and professional experience, who can hit the ground running and salvage the educational futures of generations to come. Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond would meet that challenge.

As the nation’s population moves toward majority-minority status, with many of its citizens in dire economic straits, it is imperative that President-Elect Joe Biden appoint an Education Secretary who can give public education an upgrade after its four-year loss of resources, standing, and prospects. It is time for a K-12 education revival for the profession and for us all. Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

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is published  Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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