Worth Quoting: Darling-Hammond on Accountability Testing, Democratic Platform on Charter Schools

From the AFT national convention in Minneapolis on Monday, AFT national media staffers report a clarion call for action on accountability reform.  “Test and punish is not what accountability should be, and we need to reinvent it,” leading education researcher and advocate Linda Darling-Hammond told AFT teachers at their divisional meeting Monday. The effort must begin now, Dr. Darling-Hammond urged, with a strong rollout of the Every Student Succeeds Act, and that requires active educator involvement in local, state, and national discussions about ESSA. “Change is possible, and the moment for that change is now,” she said. An upcoming Hotline will help you make your voice heard before this month is out on pending implementing regulations for ESSA that would inhibit the needed reinvention of accountability at the state and local level.

Separately, from the platform drafting committee of the Democratic national convention comes news of a significant toughening of policy language on charter schools. AFT President Randi Weingarten had a strong hand in reshaping the draft platform to stress that charter schools need to be “democratically governed” and that these schools “should not replace or destabilize traditional public schools”—criteria incompatible with the modus operandi of corporate charter chains that function like private businesses seeking to supplant neighborhood public schools. The draft adds a further stipulation that charter schools must “accept and retain proportionate numbers of students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners.” Here’s the improved platform language, which reportedly has caused consternation in corporate charter circles:

Democrats are also committed to providing parents with high-quality public school options and expanding these options for low-income youth. We support democratically governed great neighborhood public schools and high-quality public charter schools, and we will help them disseminate best practices to other school leaders and educators. Democrats oppose for-profit charter schools focused on making a profit off of public resources. We believe that high quality public charter schools should provide options for parents, but should not replace or destabilize traditional public schools. Charter schools must reflect their communities, and thus must accept and retain proportionate numbers of students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners in relation to their neighborhood public schools. We support increased transparency and accountability for all charter schools.