UPDATE: Election season!
A few updates:
1. Both McCord and Schwartz responded to our report card. The Schwartz response was published here, while McCord’s objections were in email form. Kudos to the McCord campaign for a sustained, well-thought stream of objections.
2. There have been very few reasons to update the report card (except, sadly, to remove Hanger). All 4 remaining Democractic candidates have continued to support more funds to education and abolishing the SRC. McCord gets a gold star for his explicit support of teachers in the current Supreme Court petition.
And, despite contacting Governor Corbett and his sympathizers, there has been no response to our survey from Harrisburgh.
If you’re still reading, here’s what matters: Tell people to vote. Give information and your opinion, but mostly we need to get people in the habit of going to the polls. When Philadelphians come to vote, good things happen.
The the biggest issues in Philadelphia’s upcoming elections must be education. Education is at the heart of our tax collection, our population base, our future economy. The city’s resurgence depends on strong schools. And the first step to any discussion is figuring out exactly what all sides believe.
Part of the problem with this discussion is that if you didn’t look too closely you might believe that all of our politicians1 believe the same thing. Children first, improve learning, support schools. Disastrous. Behind the platitudes we face real differences; beneath the banal statements are deep and serious implications for our families and our city. We have to talk about it and we have to be honest.
What’s the problem? Our Education Mayor gets a shot on national television to promote fair funding and instead calls the whole debate “esoteric“. No, Mr. Mayor. The conversation about what schools should look is difficult. It’s nuanced. It requires telling people things they might not want to hear and having the moral courage to stand it by it. 2
That’s why I’m proud to be part of the team within Philly’s Teacher Action Group that has created a Candidates’ Final Exam. We are pushing candidates to establish base positions, to firm up the ground on which we walk. It’s not perfect. It’s simply a point where we can discover what is is we are actually talking about.
Look, maybe you think schools should be run by networks of quasi-private enterprises. Maybe you think test scores should be used to measure teachers, evaluate students, and close schools. Maybe you think replacing teachers and guidance counselors with electronic resources is a fine way to educate children3 . Be honest and stand by it. And the hope is that when parents, teachers, and taxpayers walk into the voting booth they will understand what is actually being discussed.
If you have connections or just want to bother some candidates, please share it. If you have a better idea for the next one, tell us. Help us make the governors’ race the first in a long series of a elections where we call can agree that education is on the ballot.
(As of 11/21, 3 candidates have expressed interest in the survey. I will update this as needed)
(As of 12/12, we have commitments from 6 Democratic candidates and surveys from 5. Will Corbett take our test?)