Hillary Clinton Courts Teachers, Balances Charter School Talk

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

In an address to the National Education Association’s annual assembly in Washington earlier in the week, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton vowed to be an ally, telling teachers they would have a “partner in the White House” if she is elected:

“For anyone who has faced a hostile state legislature, a union-busting governor or both, help is on the way,” she said. “I will fight back against the attacks and I will stand up for your rights to organize and bargain collectively.”

She said, “If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, educators will have a partner in the White House and you’ll always have a seat at the table. You see, I have this old fashioned idea that when we’re making decisions about education, we actually should listen to our educators.”

The majority of her speech was spent discussing her commitment to children’s education and welfare, citing the need for additional work to be done in the areas of mental health access, extracurricular programs, and internet access.

Clinton discussed the need for an increase in teacher pay, saying that the average teacher makes 15% less than other college graduates.

She also made a push for a reduction for the role of standardized tests in public schools.  Clinton argued that tests should be returned to their original purpose, which she states was to offer information to teachers and parents that allow them to have a better picture of how children are doing academically.  She went on to say that teaching to a test causes students to miss out on valuable learning experiences, writes Michelle Hackman for The Wall Street Journal.

Clinton also suggested that public schools and charter schools should share ideas, a notion that received some boos from the audience.  She suggested that when a school finds something that works, that idea should be shared with other schools throughout the country.

“We can do that,” she said. “We’ve got no time for all of these education wars.”

She was able to win back the crowd by making a distinction between charter schools and those run by for-profit companies, saying that for-profit charter schools are not acceptable.

However, Kimberly Hefling writes for Politico that it is difficult to make the distinction at some charter schools.  While a school itself could be nonprofit, it may hire a for-profit management company that could be run by the same people as the nonprofit.

Her speech poked at her Republican rival, Donald Trump, who she said was promoting bullying and race-based violence in schools.  She said such behavior would not be accepted by teachers in their own classrooms, and therefore should be not be accepted by a person who is trying to become President of the United States, writes Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post.

No mention was made of the recent announcement made by FBI director James Comey that the agency had not recommended the prosecution of Clinton over her use of a private email server during her term as Secretary of State.