Don’t get us wrong—there are plenty of divisions between the political parties on K-12 policy. But hang around at their national conventions long enough and talk to enough educators and you’ll hear some pretty similar themes.
While Democratic and Republican educators may disagree on issues like school choice and education spending, most want politicians to trust them to do their jobs. And, these days, there is skepticism in both
parties about standardized testing. Educators also say they want to be included in the policymaking process as much as possible.
Here’s a sampling of educators and former educators among the delegates we talked to. Try to guess which convention they were from. There are three quotes from each convention. (We removed references to candidates’ names to make this game a little tougher.)
A) “We’re really hoping [the next president] will bring people alongside that are not just suits, that [he or she] will bring in teachers, people on the ground,” said Carmen Maddrey, who teaches special education in North Carolina’s Guilford County Public Schools, which includes the city of Greensboro. “Hopefully [he or she] will surround [themselves] with true educators.”
B) “We need to realize that kids are coming from broken homes, low-income families, they’re not going to do as well on the test as someone else,” said state Sen. Gayle Manning, an Ohio state senator who taught for nearly 40 years.
C) “I want to see educators have a voice in education reform,"said Adam Stuart-Littman, a speech and language pathologist at an elementary school and a delegate from Nevada. “I feel like we hear a lot of, ‘Let’s get all these educators together and then [policymakers] do whatever they were going to do” in the first place.
D) “Unions provide assurances so that if a teacher gets accused of doing something, the union has funds available to defend the teacher, which is needed,” said Robert Bernosky, a former school board member, who is running for a seat on the San Benito school board in California.
E) “When you look at the new economy, it’s all about the sharing economy, technology, coding,” said Amy Laufer, the chair of the Charlottesville City School board in Virginia, and a former middle school math teacher. “We need in my mind, a major investment in schools in that arena. Some of our state doesn’t even have broadband, these kids can’t get on the internet. There’s no way they can succeed in our next economy without those tools.”
F) “I’d like to see us reduce the number of tests we give our children,” said Louisiana state Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, a former middle school English teacher and school board member. “We’re definitely looking at the number of tests kids take. I’d like to have not one test be the standard for one child to move from one grade to another.”
Think you know which of these folks are Republicans and which are Democrats? Answer in the comments section, or tweet at us via @PoliticsK12. We’ll let you know if you’re right.