To the Editor:
After following the education news and political campaigns of the last few years, I would argue that Democrats at both the state and national levels continue to disappoint teachers and parents on K-12 education policies.
At the state level, you have governors such as Dannel Malloy in Connecticut and Andrew Cuomo in New York who have supported the use of high-stakes standardized tests in the evaluation of school and teacher effectiveness in the past. These anti-public-education policies espoused by the tristate governors would have public school advocates wondering whether Democrats today vary significantly from Republicans of the past few decades, concerning their positions on public education. Likewise, at the national level, we have President Barack Obama and former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who have continued what I would consider the anti-public-education policies of the former George W. Bush administration.
Needless to say, public school educators and parents across the nation are in a quandary concerning their support of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as neither Democratic presidential candidate has yet to articulate or espouse whether she or he will be staunch advocates of public education. If either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders should be elected president, educators and parents will know her or his K-12 education positions in short order with the appointment of a new U.S. secretary of education.
Despite the fact that both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have given their early endorsement to Hillary Clinton for president, there is no guarantee that she would dramatically deviate from the K-12 positions of her predecessor, Barack Obama, and it would remain to be seen whether, for a second time, the unions will have wasted their early presidential endorsements.
The question that remains is whether future Democratic elected leaders will continue to govern as former Republican leaders have with regard to public education in the United States.
Joseph A. Ricciotti
The author is a retired educator.
A version of this article appeared in the March 30, 2016 edition of Education Week as Reader Asks If a Democratic President Would Advocate for Public Education