In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Paul E. Peterson and Martin R. West examine the education plank of the Democratic party platform and then compare what the party says it will do with what the public says it wants.
Democrats say that they will “recognize and honor all the professionals who work in public schools,” including “teachers, education support professionals, and specialized staff,” suggestingnthat every teacher does a terrific job. The party also promises that it will “end the test-and- punish version of accountability.” Only charter schools seem to need more scrutiny: The platform includes a full paragraph of ideas to regulate them.
Democrats nationwide seem to have a different view.
In contrast with platform-committee Democrats, 80% of rank-and- file adherents who took a position on the issue said they backed the federal requirement that “all students be tested in math and reading each year,” with only 20% disagreeing. Republicans had similar responses: 74% and 26%, respectively.
For their platform, party insiders voted to “support enabling parents to opt their children out of standardized tests.” But Democrats nationwide do not share this view. When asked whether they favored “letting parents decide whether to have their children take state math and reading tests,” 71% of Democrats said they did not. So did 69% of Republicans.
Democratic honchos qualify their support for charter schools by asserting that they “should not replace or destabilize traditional public schools”—not a good sign since it is impossible for charters to enroll more students without contraction elsewhere. But when Democrats nationwide were asked whether they supported “the formation of charter schools,” 58% of those with a position said yes, as did 74% of Republicans.
Peterson and West base their article on the results of a survey to be published next week by Education Next.