New GOP Platform: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Concerning

Photo credit: Erik Drost via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Republican Platform was released on Monday, the first day of the convention. Much of the K-12 education plank is good; parts are concerning. Here are a few initial impressions.

The platform begins with a strong statement of the purpose of education — that true education goes beyond transmission of “knowledge and skills” and encompasses “handing over of a cultural identity.” The platform observes, correctly, that “centralizing forces outside the family and community . . . have done immense damage,” and it states flatly that the strongest centralizing force — the federal government — “should not be a partner in [the educational] effort, as the Constitution gives it no role in education.”

Citing the celebration of human dignity in the Declaration of Independence, the platform states: “That truth [of the Declaration] rejects the dark view of the individual as human capital – a possession for the creation of another’s wealth.” In so doing, the platform dismisses the foundational principle of Common Core and other education-as-workforce-development schemes. This statement is a welcome indication that at least some of the people who worked on this language actually understand — and reject — the Chamber of Commerce view of education.

Turning to parental rights, the platform also acknowledges that parents “have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing” and even supports a constitutional amendment to protect that right from “interference by states, the federal government, or international bodies such as the United Nations.” It strongly endorses local control in education, opposes all national standards (specifically Common Core) and assessments and, while it endorses tests that “serve as a tool so teachers can tailor teaching to meet student needs,” rejects “excessive testing.” (There is no mention of parental rights to opt out of the testing.)

The platform also recognizes that more spending isn’t the solution to our education problems, noting the singular lack of effectiveness of the $2 trillion of federal money spent on education over the last 50 years. Continue Reading