Elizabeth Warren and K-12 Education: More Information Needed

Elizabeth Warren needs to let us know her views about K-12 education and what policies she advocates for improving education. Right now, as Steven Singer explains, it’s difficult to figure out where she stands.

At a recent rally in Oakland, CA, Warren allowed herself to be introduced by a divisive, union-opposing supporter of charter schools when, as Singer points out, “charter schools, ¬†enrolling 6% of all U.S. students, cannibalize the funding for the 90% that attend authentic public schools.”

Singer questions why Warren would want to associate herself with those who fund charter schools, the privatizers of public education who often are the hedge fund billionaires that she battles over other issues.

Singer also discusses the ambiguous message that Warren gives when she strongly opposed opening new charter schools in Massachusetts when lifting the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts was put to a vote. Yet, she also is on record as saying, ” Many charter schools in Massachusetts are producing extraordinary results for our students, and we should celebrate the hard work of those teachers and read what’s working to other schools.” I agree that we should always celebrate the hard work of teachers, but as a public official and a member of the U.S. Senate on the education committee, Elizabeth Warren must be consistent: either advocate for more charter schools or, like the NAACP, call for a moratorium on new charter schools.

Similarly, Elizabeth Warren, along with all of the other Presidential candidates, must articulate her position on standardized testing. Thus far, Warren has received an F from the Network for Public Education for her past support of standardized testing as the measure of student achievement and readiness for their future. Singer states that high stakes standardized tests, whose results always and forever have been correlated to the income of the students’ parents, “have unfairly assessed students for decades, and tests have been used as an excuse to deny poor and minority students the resources they need to succeed.”

Singer also comments that Warren’s education policy advisor is Josh Delaney whose credentials are that he took the 5-week crash course to become a Teach for America teacher, taught for two years, and then had a career as an “expert” in education. Singer seems to be alluding to the fact that there is a wealth of research about issues in K-12 education – charter schools, standardized testing, segregation, equitable funding, and class size, to name a view and many knowledgeable and experienced people who could be part of her team.

Singer’s point in his article is not to deny Elizabeth Warren the Democratic nomination or the Presidency but to urge her to research the issues confronting K-12 education and to state her positions clearly.

Hopefully, that is how a Democrat will win the White House and how the Democratic candidate will be on the forward-moving side of history as President.