Warren Stumbles on Education Plan Leaving Kids and Families Behind

My son Miles just adores our United States Senator, Elizabeth Warren.

This picture is from the moment he personally asked her to run for President of the United States — more than a year ago before she announced her candidacy.

We’ve always been fans of Elizabeth Warren in this house. Even before she ran for US Senate Miles thought she was “the smartest lady in the world”.

So to say that we were profoundly disappointed in yesterday’s unveiling of her K-12 education “plan” would be a major understatement. 

We thought she would remember us. 

My kids are some of the 19 million Latino children in the United States — and unfortunately, just by virtue of being beautiful brown little boys, they have become eligible for entry to the school to prison pipeline.

Our traditional education system is broken and doesn’t work for a huge chunk of our kids – something Elizabeth Warren always said she understood and wanted to fix.

We all agree that there can be no excellence without equity in education for all children — but there can’t excellence without disrupting the status quo in education that turns too many of our children into mere survivors of a broken system and to refocus on providing a high quality public education to each child in America.

Parents like me, fighting for kids like mine, seem to be left out of the conversation being held by the 2020 Presidential candidate in favor of pandering to powerful special interests even though recent polling tells us that Democratic voters don’t actually support the radical demands being put forward by teachers unions. 

This is something you might expect from some Democratic Presidential candidates. 

But Elizabeth Warren

Miles and I expected something far more thoughtful and innovative than just another tired politician signing up to pledge their undying loyalty to a system that is so clearly failing too many of our children.

Until now, Elizabeth Warren seemed to be up for a realistic discussion about education — with a vision that was much more than just loyalty to a particular governance model — but instead about demanding outcomes and opportunity for kids.

Many have cited already her many books and writings often advocating for vouchers and the end to zipcodes determining our educational destiny. The conversations I’ve had with her over the years lead me to believe that she was interested in a truly progressive conversation around education and equity instead of reverting back to the same old status-quo rhetoric.

The fact of the matter is, although Warren brags about being a “Proud Okie” on her campaign twitter account, she actually represents our incredible state of Massachusetts —  where, as the result of innovations from public schools, including public charter schools, and then testing and evaluating their effectiveness, we learned what led to our status as number one in the nation for education.

So instead of backing the regressive status quo that leads our children into the school to prison pipeline — why not talk about the things that are working in our state and articulate a vision for doing even better in the future?

Elizabeth Warren knows that in Massachusetts, rigorous state oversight creates and sustains the nation’s best public charter schools, bringing the highest quality educational opportunities to children in communities that have been underserved for generations. These public charter schools have decimated the achievement gaps that plague too many of our traditional district schools. 

Last year she pushed past ridiculous political turf wars to specifically brag about Massachusetts education — including charter schools — saying, “Many charter schools in Massachusetts are producing extraordinary results for our students, and we should celebrate the hard work of those teachers and spread what’s working to other schools,” right on the floor of the US Senate.

But these are now two critical pieces of the education revolution we launched here in Massachusetts that Warren now calls for actually abolishing should she become President?

It just doesn’t make sense. Elizabeth Warren is better than this.

Except to assume that Warren has made the cynical political calculation that she must court special interests to win the Democratic nomination — instead of giving us the bold, innovative leadership our nation needs. 

We deserve a President willing to refocus our national priorities on policies that strengthen families. The 2020 Presidential candidates need to start engaging in a new conversation about education, one in which our children — not special interest groups — are unapologetically at the center of our agenda and every decision.

The lives of our children hang in the balance. This is not a political game. For us, the consequences are poverty, incarceration and death. 

This is the leadership that kids like Miles deserve.

What do you think?

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