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Hillary Clinton: Still on the Hook

December 23, 2015

Addendum 12-24-15:

See Clinton’s full speech here.


On December 22, 2015, Hillary Clinton spoke at a high school in Iowa, and she made a comment that speedily boomeranged on her:

I wouldn’t keep any school open that wasn’t doing a better-than-average job.

I wrote a wry response regarding the mathematical nonsense related to her misspoken goal of all schools’ being “above average.”

However, even as US News rushed to Clinton’s rescue to say that Clinton’s comment had been taken out of context, the greater problem is that Clinton tossed off such a comment at all.

hillary clinton 3  Hillary Clinton

School closure is destructive, and Clinton demonstrated her corporate-Democratic lack of awareness of the impact of the continued, privatizing-reform attack on the traditional, community-centered, American public school.

In November 2015, Clinton appeared to be critical of charter schools– and her husband Bill assisted with the backpedaling as billionaire charter-pushing funders like Eli Broad tightened his grip in his wallet. As the December 17, 2015, Wall Street Journal reports:

WASHINGTON—Democrats backing the effort to overhaul American education have become increasingly concerned that presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton isn’t committed to their cause, and some donors are holding back support for her campaign.

Their worries stem from skeptical comments she has made about charter schools and teacher evaluations, as well as her close relationship with teachers’ unions, who are critical of both.

“There are a lot of deep-pocketed donors who are concerned, and they’re going to hang onto their checkbooks until there is more clarity,” said Whitney Tilson, managing partner of Kase Capital, who has given more than $150,000 to Democrats in recent years. He hasn’t donated any money to Mrs. Clinton or the super PAC supporting her this year “primarily because of this issue.”

Another major Democratic donor, Eli Broad, refused requests for contributions from another friendly super PAC, and only changed his mind after personal reassurances from former President Bill Clinton and campaign chairman John Podesta that Mrs. Clinton will support charter schools.

…Last month, she appeared to disparage charter schools, which are public schools operating outside of the traditional system. “Most charter schools—I don’t want to say every one—but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them,” she said in an interview with TV host Roland Martin at a town-hall meeting in South Carolina. …

Policy aide Ann O’Leary posted an essay on assuring that “yes, Hillary Clinton supports charter schools,” as long as they are high quality. Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon added that Mrs. Clinton supports federal funding to expand “high-quality charter schools.”

Mr. Broad, who runs a foundation focused on education and has donated more than $2 million to Democrats in the last quarter century, said he rejected a request to contribute to the pro-Clinton super PAC Correct the Record, saying he needed reassurances about her views on education.

He said he was reassured after conversations with Messrs. Clinton and Podesta that Mrs. Clinton would in fact support charter schools, and he said he believes she will support teacher-accountability measures. He said he now expects to financially support her campaign.

“I think when push gets to shove, she’ll be more like Bill Clinton and perhaps [Obama Education Secretary] Arne Duncan than we think right now,” he said.

It seems quite popular to support “high quality” charter schools without supporting any solid, systematic course of fiscal and other operational accountability for such schools.

Then, of course, comes the destructive issue of charter churn as an excuse for that “high quality.” In other words, “If a charter isn’t high quality, we’ll just close it and open another.”

Clinton has yet to substantively comment on how her views on public education will meld with the newly-passed Every Student Achieves Act (ESSA), which leans heavily on standardized test scores even as it lacks any backbone for its generous language on “autonomous” charter school establishment and expansion.

She also has offered nothing on exactly what she considers to be a “good” or “above average” school. Yes, “above average” is a math term, but it is also a politically loaded term, just like “high quality” or “higher standards,” which politicians toss about as though sprinkling bacon bits in a salad.

And, as blogger Peter Greene notes, she has offered no statement to the effect that troubled schools need assistance, not closing.

Clinton should be talking about the importance of curtailing school churn and of preventing school closure in the first place.

Eli Broad won’t like such statements.

I agree with Greene: Clinton might not push for massive school closure, but she is also not pushing community school rescue, either.

Not good, Hillary. Not good.

hook 2


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published in June 2015.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. DanG permalink

    With a tip of the hat to Joseph Goebbels, the “big lie” that the decline in American Public Education is due to lazy/incompetent teachers or corrupt or moribund school boards, has been taken as a postulate by many who ought to know better. This propaganda coup is the fuel that reformniks use to justify the transformation of public education into a money racket. I hope that whichever Democrat wins will consent to be enlightened. Of course, if the GOP buffoon wins, then education will be the least of our worries!

  2. ira shor permalink

    Very good reading of the Hillary statement. She has to hide her long-term connection with Eli Broad, the premier privatizer of public education. She is a loose cannon on “education policy” b/c “education policy” was taken off the table and thrown under the bus in this presidential election season, first by Randi and Lily of AFT/NEA who forced early union endorsements of Hillary for nothing in return, and then by the Democratic Part keeping k-12 issues off any of the candidate debates, and finally by the collaborative Dem/GOP rush to pass ESSA’s 1061 pages in 10 days, relieving Hillary of any need to get serious on public schooling, but also relieving the GOP of having to face the ire of its conservative wing who oppose federal interventions like NCLB, RTTT, CCCS, etc.

  3. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    I could find no explicit definition of high-quality in ESSA.
    The closest approximation of a single intended meaning is on page 573 in connection with charter schools where there is an expectation that if metrics improve, then it is a high-quality charter school. Otherwise the phrase is used as general modifier at least 85 times.

    At some point it would be useful to just focus on the real definitions offered in ESSA following the 66 uses of that term. I am not up to that.

    There are multiple references to the idea of testing. The term TEST is used only 29 times (no plurals) but there are at least 167 references to assessments, 13 for measurement(s), and 25 for growth as a measurement.

    There is also a pretty mindless use of the word effective (200) and effectiveness (45).

    In NCLB the term “academic” was the all-purpose adjective used 811 times. In ESSA there are only 415 references.

    These are ballpark numbers on the use of terms. Although I put the law into Word so I could find and color-code sections, the fact that each line is numbered complicates key-word searches. For example, the phrase “meaningful differentiation” is frequently used as if the law wants to see a lot of stack rankings of school and district performances. Those sections need a closer look.

  4. Reblogged this on A Teacher's Perspective and commented:
    I was thinking of writing a piece about this, but Mercedes has said it perfectly!

  5. Jake Jacobs permalink

    Remember too that Clinton era loophole called the New Markets Tax Credit which gives huge breaks to entities that finance charter construction. The benefits were so generous, it created a perverse incentive to build charters in “empowerment zones” even if the underlying financials of the school made them taxpayer time bombs.

  6. Harlan Underhill permalink

    Don’t worry. Hillary will go straight union in the general. Charters will be ignored and the privatizes will stay under the radar. If elected by all those public school teachers, she won’t even try to renew the D.C. Scholarship Program. If the Republican wins, schools will be number -21 on the list of concerns. Pack your tools in your pickup and head south for good money building the Great Wall of America. Or, join up for The Third Iraq (World) War.

  7. Forget “Education Reform”. Can you spell “Campaign Finance Reform”?

    “Democrats” for education reform. HAH! What a crock. They’re no more “Democrat” than GW Bush. It’s about the money.

  8. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Don’t know much about geography,
    Don’t know much trigonometry
    Don’t know much about algebra,
    Don’t know what a slide rule is for
    But I do know that one and one is two…

    Hat tip to Sam Cooke:

    Merry Christmas, Mercedes to you and yours! Looking forward to an interesting 2016.

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  1. Hillary Clinton: Still on the Hook | Where have you gone Joe Rossi?

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