Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Red Flags In Kamala Harris's Pay Raise Proposal

I was so determined not to get into the 2020 election this early, dammit. But the Kamala Harris teacher pay raise proposal hit my screen this morning, and there I was on twitter. I've addressed the larger concerns with the proposal here, but there are other concerns that are less interesting to the Forbes audience.

When I read the Harris op-ed in the Washington Post, I thought, "Hmmm. Well...."

When one of her campaign people directed me to the write-up on her website, I thought, "Uh-oh."

Some of the language she uses is unfortunately familiar. Here's just the first two sentences:

Every child deserves a world-class education, regardless of their ZIP code. Of all in-school factors that impact their success, there’s nothing more important than our teachers.

This is straight out of the corporate reform playbook. It's the rhetoric that's been used to sell charters and bad teacher evaluation programs.

Things are quiet for a while, and then we get this:

Our plan will include a multi-billion dollar investment in programs that help elevate the teaching profession and support principals and other school leaders. This includes high-quality teacher and principal residencies, early-career induction programs that pair new teachers with mentors and master teachers, career ladder models that allow for advancement opportunities for teacher leaders, and “Grow Your Own” programs that help increase teacher diversity.
Career ladders are another red flag, mostly because under ed reform, instead of building more rungs on the top of the ladder, they dig a hole and put the bottom of the ladder below ground level. 

There is also a neo-liberal style flourish at the end that feels like the same old "education is the cure for poverty and social ills (so we don't need to do anything else)." But maybe by that part I was simply tired and over-concerned.

Oh, and one more problem as spotted by several folks on Twitter-- Arne Duncan thinks this is awesome

I don't know much about Harris at this point, and she does say some other things that I rather like, so if someone wants to hop in the comments and reassure me that she's not one more corporate Democrat, I'd appreciate that, because I really want to just take an election nap until at least August. 


  1. The federal government funds are for Title I and programming for the neediest students. Any conversation about Federal $$ going anywhere should underline the purpose of ESEA funding. What resources do the neediest schools need. The most expensive resource at schools are teachers. We have to have a serious conversation about teacher quality. The "reformers" are not going anywhere because we need to have a serious conversation that does not end in defensiveness. The teacher pool is drying up but unless people are going to listen to Sen. Lee, so will the students. Now we are evaluating curricula and talking about intervention fidelity and content-richness. Just follow this content-rich curriculum. Sounds like trying to teacher proof to me because we are not having the conversation that we need to be having. You have to be moved to teach the neediest students and teach them well. It is not an after thought career.

  2. Harris is indeed a corporate Democrat, the new face of DFER courting teachers. Look at the record of Scott Stump, whom she and the Dems approved for the Department of Education. He is way deep in "personalized learning" and online education, meaning data mining. I have a hunch the Harris candidacy and proposal were actually developed by the AFT because of Randi Weingarten's immediate and uncritical tweet endorsing the idea, before any specifics were released.

  3. Harris spent her prosecutorial career going hard after poor and minority people while letting the big banks off the hook for defrauding people out of their homes. What more do you need ot know?