Thursday, July 28, 2016

DFER in Philly with their eyes on Massachusetts

So while the Democrats are having their national convention in Philadelphia, it might seem that attention has shifted off the other things on the fall ballot, like the four ballot questions.
Not at all!
In fact, those supporting the charter school ballot question are attempting to woo support for it among the Democrats who are in Philadelphia by sponsoring their breakfasts:
So one of the groups advocating to raise the cap on charter schools, Massachusetts Democrats for Education Reform, has sponsored two of the convention's breakfasts to help win over the party faithful.
My guess is that most of the elected officials probably already have an opinion on this question (I suspect most of the Legislature knows they can't afford it), but it's the rank and file Democrats who have no idea who DFER is that presumably are those they're hoping to convert. Also, this is a healthy reminder of who has money in this issue!

They also had a "Camp Philos" event, well covered by Molly Knefel in TruthOut, which is particularly interesting for several things. First, Massachusetts Joint Committee on Education House Chair Representative Alice Peisch was there and was quoted regarding the future of education reform:
Both Ruiz and Massachusetts State Representative Alice Peisch suggested that education reform had a PR problem. To fix that, they argued, reformers have to emphasize that they're not just about testing and closing schools, but about addressing educational inequality.
Second, when the discussion on school integration happened--specifically, if integration should be forced-- Peter Cunningham (who worked for Secretary Duncan in both Chicago and D.C.; he's now at Education Post) had a fairly dismissive perspective:
Maybe the fight's not worth it. It's a good thing; we all think integration is good. But it's been a long fight, we've had middling success. At the same time, we have lots and lots of schools filled with kids of one race, one background, that are doing great. It's a good question.
Also, the perspective of the person DFER had interacting with Knefel is weirdly hostile:
During the lunch break, interestingly enough, a DFER staffer asked me if I was with Ravitch or the unions. I don't believe Ravitch was at the gathering, so I have to assume that she meant "with" Ravitch in the ideological sense. I told her that I was attending the event as a member of the press. In addition to being an after-school teacher, I am a freelance journalist and regularly cover education. She suggested that I wasn't actually with the press, but there just to tweet. Just for the record, I had not tweeted or retweeted anything critical that day, and I said again that I was with the press. She replied that it was totally OK that I was there, but that I should just "be honest." The interaction betrayed the thinly veiled sentiment beneath the morning's oft-repeated message of harmony with unions. The assumption was that if I attended the event in a critical capacity it must be because of a secret union affiliation. I am definitely not a union member, but I was still unsure of how welcome I was at the proverbial table.

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