In addressing the national PTA conference last week, Arne Duncan unveiled a new, more compact and campaign-ready version of the USED talking points, three "foundational" rights for every family.
USED continues its commitment to preschool without showing any understanding of what "quality" means for a preschool. That is book-ended with a commitment to affordable college. The commitment to affordable college would be more compelling were it not that the Department of Education is one of the entities profiting from college students. If the feds want college to become more affordable, there is a simple but powerful first step readily within their grasp-- start lending money to college students at the same sorts of rates they grant big time banks and other favored customers.
Sandwiched in between these, we get a now boiled-down version of the last decade-plus of reformster rhetoric. High standards (whatever that means, though we certainly won't use the C words any more), good teaching, good leadership, and resources-- families have a right to schools with all of these.
Note that families are not entitled to a democratic process for creating their own local school system.
When I say that these points are campaign ready, I was thinking specifically of the Clinton campaign. Hillary Clinton's website covers a lot of ground, but really doesn't say much about education issues at all. Her policies seem likely to be close to those of the current administration and the previous one, too, for that matter).
Her education PAC declares itself in support of five ideas:
1. Universal pre-school
2. Two free years of community college
3. Increased teacher pay and flex work options
4. Access to high quality schools for all communities
5. Full-service community schools
It all seems familiar, fluffy and foundation-free. Lordy, but I'm not looking foreward to the coming year in politics.