Pandering to teachers

Columnists Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post and Ruben Navarette of the San Diego Union-Tribune bash Democratic presidential candidates for pandering to the National Education Association by attacking No Child Left Behind and refusing to propose anything but spending more money on the same, old system.

While Barack Obama showed a hint of independence by mentioning merit pay, he abandoned his old position to join the attack on No Child Left Behind.

“Don’t tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of the year preparing him to fill in a few bubbles on a standardized test,” he says. But, for all the flaws of No Child Left Behind, that bubble-filling has highlighted the achievement gap between rich and poor schools, and between black and white students, and put pressure on systems to address it.

Marcus lists all the education reform proposals the Dems could be pushing but don’t want to touch.

Yes, teachers are an important Democratic constituency, but aren’t parents Democratic voters, too — parents who might welcome a message about accountability and expectations? If, that is, one of the candidates were willing to deliver it.

Navarette also wants candidates to show they’re not puppets and panderers.

For the most part, teachers hate the emphasis on testing. At their convention, some wore buttons and stickers proclaiming: “A child is more than a test score.” And they really hate having to advertise to the world what sort of job they’re doing in teaching students of certain racial and ethnic backgrounds.

This suggests that teachers know more than they’re letting on about which students they’re serving and which they’re sacrificing. The law shares the information with the rest of us.

Eduwonk thinks “the bar for Democrats on serious education proposals is getting higher.”

Update: Ronald Brownstein, a liberal LA Times columnist, also is defending NCLB.

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Comments

  1. Robert Wright says:

    Democrats are generally superior to Republicans in most respects. Foreign policy, civil rights, human rights. It’s a long list.

    But when it comes to education, Democrats are out of their minds.

    If you want hear a thoughtful discussion on a wide range of topics having to do with education, you’ll be listening to Republicans. They’re open minded and intelligent. They listen to opposing views and they look objectively at valid research.

    If you want to hear mindless, knee-jerk responses to questions regarding education, ask a Democrat.

  2. SuperSub says:

    It’s strange that Republicans are only open-minded and thoughtful about education… are you sure of your initial statement?

  3. Robert Wright says:

    SuperSub,

    An excellent question.

    No, I’m not so sure now as I used to be.

  4. If you want hear a thoughtful discussion on a wide range of topics having to do with education, you’ll be listening to Republicans. They’re open minded and intelligent. They listen to opposing views and they look objectively at valid research.

    Absolutely untrue. Republicans start with the assumption that public education is a bad thing and teachers are stupid. Democrats start with the assumption that public education is a good thing. Open-minded Republicans? No such thing.

  5. Mike,

    Your comment is a gross oversimplification and doesn’t add anything to the debate other then self-satisfied moral superiority.

  6. Ragnarok says:

    Mike,

    Would you explain what you mean by “public education”?

  7. Mike,

    Interesting juxtaposition, here.

    “If you want to hear mindless, knee-jerk responses to questions regarding education, ask a Democrat.”

    “Absolutely untrue. Republicans start with the assumption that public education is a bad thing and teachers are stupid. Democrats start with the assumption that public education is a good thing. Open-minded Republicans? No such thing.”

    Could you possibly be a Democrat?

  8. Stacy wrote:

    Your comment is a gross oversimplification and doesn’t add anything to the debate other then self-satisfied moral superiority.

    Since the subject is politics I’m not sure whether you meant that as a criticism, a compliment or merely an observation.

    Mike wrote:

    Republicans start with the assumption that public education is a bad thing and teachers are stupid.

    Nonsense. Public education starts with the assumption that teachers are stupid and Republicans are a bad thing. Democrats start with the assumption that everyone is stupid not even excepting themselves. That’s why the policies of the Democratic party fit so neatly on bumper sticker. They’ve made a virtue of necessity.

    Also, what does anyone expect from primary hopefuls in front a powerful constituency? That they’ll tell those constituents hard truths and pull no punches? I’m sure that’d go over real well when you ask for their support.

  9. Catch Thirty-Thr33 says:

    Robert Wright – If the Democrats are superior in foreign policy to Republicans, perhaps you can explain how the Cold War ended.

    If they ae superior in the human rights arena, perhaps you can explain why Carter toasted the Shah for his great human right record, while aching and trying incredibly hard to abandon the (admittedly at the time authoritarian) South Korean regime to an infinitely more vicious and quite vile North Korean regime?

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