I wish I could, but all I see is another politician who turned his back on teachers.
I catch the education portion of the debate as I drive home from parent-teacher conferences. I get it. I'm supposed to be outraged. I'm supposed to hate Mitt Romney's education plan because it includes teacher merit pay, supports firing teachers and believes that privatization is the answer. Except, here's the thing: so does Obama.
Oh, he tried to appeal to teachers. I give him that. "She teaches with textbooks that are ten years old." This from the man who is advocating a model of education that is a century old.
That was precisely the problem. Both seemed to view education as a factory. As they spoke about accountability, investing in education, holding schools accountable and raising standards, I was struck by the biggest misconception they hold in common:
They believe that education is a product. They see it as public investment in potential private equity. Both candidates believe that teachers are basically lazy and need a financial incentive to care about students. Both candidates believe that standardized test scores are the measure of academic learning. From what I could tell, the only significant area that the two candidates agreed upon was the same basic plan for K-12 public education: sell it off to the highest bidder.
I could get all wonky about the details in certification plans and the questions about funding and vouchers. I realize that it's more complicated than I just made it. But it doesn't matter. If the philosophy of education is purely economical, none of the details make any difference.
I don't teach products. I don't teach workers. I don't teach consumers. On a good day, I have students consumed by a love of learning while working on finding products. (See, word craft can be as fun as Mine Craft) However, that's only on a good day.
I'm struck by the difference between the conversations I've had with parents and the way the politicians talk about education. Parents ask how their children are behaving, how they work with others, whether or not they are mastering the learning. Parents want to know about a whole child, because they see their children as children rather than future employees.
So do I.