Monday, June 8, 2009

Progressive stance on education?

There isn't one. It's funny -- on most any issue, it's pretty clear what the progressive stance is, whether you agree with it or not. Energy, immigration, health care, diplomacy, taxation...there is quibble on the details, but not on overall picture.

Meanwhile you have self-identified progressives who love charter schools, and those who loathe them. Progressives who agree in the centrality of the MCAS, and those who want it turfed. Progressives are divided, and so are Democrats overall -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama diverged on the issue of education more than any other that I can remember.

I was amazed at the reactions of convention delegates when I approached them on education. So many, many different reactions, and frankly a lot of confusion about the current state of education. After most of the work was done, I amused myself by asking several people what the "progressive stance on education" is. The most common answer was an uncomfortable silence.

This tells me that either education issues thoroughly cross-cut progressive principles, or the progressive movement in Massachusetts has never had a serious conversation about education. My early thought is this:

Form a Progressive Working Group on Education. A coalition of activists, academics, educators, community leaders, and policymakers to have a serious conversation about this. Where consensus exists, this working group would try to implement that policy; where consensus doesn't (on MCAS and charter schools especially), have a serious conversation about how progressive principles are bound up in these issues.

I am considering trying to organize a kick-off conference for this in late September. Wonder if anyone would be interested...


GGW said...

I always admire your genuine interest in this conversation, and your insights.

It's tough, though. I sat on one of the Gov's transition team things, then a second one.

They invited a wide cross section of folks.

It was just so hard to find any common areas of agreement. Makes me sound whiny. Don't mean it to. I just think any bystander would have thought the same thing.

What are some thing you think people might agree on?

Charley on the MTA said...

This post would be a welcome cross-post on BMG, if you like. I find the arguments very confusing, and it's sometimes difficult to disentangle arguments made out of narrow self-interest from those made for more enlightened reasons.

Charley on the MTA said...

I should say, "arguments made in the general public discussion of ed policy," not those made in this post.

Anonymous said...

School committee

In my fair city, we've a perennial progressive run for school committee and I don't think if I can say what makes him progressive.

On a city level, the problem is the allocation of scarce resources. I have no idea how one finds someone good at that.