"Talk me off my ledge because right now, I cannot in good conscience, support him." Facebook Friend
The above quote was made by a Facebook friend concerning Barack Obama and his bid for a second term in the White House. This person is a registered Democrat and a progressive educator. So why would she not support President Obama in 2012 election? Well I have some pretty good insights, but why speculate on a friend. Let me tell you about me.
I do not need to be talked off the ledge. I have decided that President Obama will not get my vote. His education policies are dismantling public education and the president appears to be deaf to the supporters of public education -- that's it. That's why he will not get my vote.
Now before you think I'm just some crazy single-issue voter, let me explain my rationale. Although public education is a single issue, the ramifications of its dismantling will devastate all the other issues that push people to the polls.
So while it appears as if I'm making a decision on one issue, this is not the case. If public education is dismantled who will teach the generations of future children about issues that are important to society?
Let me illustrate with just three examples.
Climate Change and Environmental Protection Democrats and progressive leaning voters take these issues seriously. However, if the school reform movement succeeds and our public education system is privatized through a network of corporate run charter schools, is there really any chance that future generations will be well educated about these issues? Will future generations be able to make a compelling argument why climate change and environmental protection are important issues that require a powerful education? In a privatized system there is no requirement that important environmental issues be taught powerfully -- or even taught at all. In fact, my guess is that the corporate run charter schools will actively suppress the teaching of these issues. Why would a corporate run charter school teach about issues that might undermine a corporate view that sees environmental protection and climate change as pesky roadblocks to economic exploitation?
Evolution Another issue that most Democrats would argue is something that should be taught to future generations considering that everything we know about modern biology can be situated on the foundation of evolutionary science. However, can anyone say Louisiana? Since Hurricane Katrina, most news concerning education that makes it to the public has painted the new corporate run charter schools and choice based system of education as a major success -- this is not true. However, what the mainstream media fails to report is that some of these same schools (that are receiving tax dollars) are actively planning to teach a creationist curriculum. What else needs to be said about this?
Active Citizenship Progressives take their activism seriously. Historically public education has taken a very proactive stance on the fact that a well-rounded liberal arts education is a REQUIREMENT for living in and maintaining a thriving democracy. The current reform movement is focused on the "college and career ready" catchphrase and the forced adoption of the Common Core standards. This will destroy a meaningful liberal arts curriculum and promote an obedient worker mentality. And according to Mark Naison, "If you've given up on reducing poverty and inequality, then it makes sense to ... put teachers under immense pressure to discipline and harass unwilling students into attaining levels of competence necessary to transform them into obedient workers in a low wage economy." In other words, corporate run schools main task is creating an obedient workforce.
For even more details please watch Chris Hedges explain the failings of the Obama Administration.
Summary I am not voting for Obama because of his education policies. However, I do not consider myself a single-issue voter. As I illustrated above, without a fully funded progressive system of public education there will not be any other voting issues to consider. Or, as another Facebook friend put it, "My advice to everyone in November: Education is a wash. Vote your conscience." For me (and I hope anybody else that values public education) that means "opting out" in November.