Education Reform As A Distraction

From a Massachusetts activist who successfully opposed the pro-charter referendum Question 2 (boldface mine):

For a short while in Boston last night, we were ecstatic. We beat the privatizers on Question 2, and we beat them across the state, with every demographic – except for the whitest, wealthiest towns. As Barbara Madeloni said from the stage at campaign headquarters, “We beat their money with our democracy.”

…And then, as the national results started coming in and it became clear that Clinton was in trouble, DFER was spotted in the back of the hotel ballroom. As was Marty Walz, former state legislator-turned-paid-shill for the charter industry.

Some of us – those who’d been door-knocking, who had made calls, created charts, sent tweets, educated our neighbors, debated on stage – became angry. The Yes on 2 campaign, funded by so-called Democrats with zero history of being on the side of working people and the disenfranchised, had forced us to focus on a state measure, for months and months and months, at the exclusion of the presidential campaign. Not a single one of my comrades working themselves to exhaustion – unpaid – to defeat the ballot measure was also volunteering for Hilary. We couldn’t be in two places at once, and we rightly felt the urgency of defeating Question 2. We were also keenly aware that our colleagues in other parts of the country were counting on us to stop the charter tide in Massachusetts.

DFER and Marty Walz heard from us loud and clear last night. We let them know that their support for an expensive, divisive, diversionary campaign will not be forgotten.

Keep in mind that some of the No on 2 ground troops were teachers. Rather than capitalizing on teachers unions and their organizations, education reformers pissed away a significant structural advantage, not to mention demoralizing their base.

I also want to say something about Marty Walz. At a local level, she typifies what is wrong with the Democratic Party. When she was my state representative, she took two dives: one on education and one on a local building issue. Overnight, she reversed herself 180 degrees. She became a charter advocate and then suddenly supported a building project that she had previously opposed (and which ultimately was built). Shortly thereafter, she left during her term and became involved with Planned Parenthood. Good for Marty, not so good for everyone else.

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