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Congressional Progressive Caucus


Did you see the June 14 announcement of the official position of the
Congressional Progressive Caucus on reauthorization of the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act? Portions look like they were copied from CTA/NEA
statements on ESEA. The document, entitled "CPC Principles for the
Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act," is online at <
> If you are unable to use this link, go to < http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/> and
click on "Official Positions." Representative Lynn Woolsey of California is one
of the co-chairs of the caucus. She recently hosted a town hall in her district
in which Secretary Duncan got an earful from educators and community members.
California Representative George Miller (Chair of the Committee on Education and
Labor) is also one of the 81 members of the CPC, so the fact that the caucus has
issued an official statement may indicate a shift in his position, or at least
that he no longer is in a position to impose his views on his committee.

Combine the Progressive Caucus position with the two important reports issued
this week,* and it appears that momentum may have shifted. After years in which
neo-liberal "reformers" pushed high-stakes testing, school choice and merit pay
as the moral equivalent of voting rights, fair housing and Brown v Board,
important parts of the establishment are backing away from the assault on public
education. As Winston Churchill said, this is not the end. It is not even the
beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning. Diane Ravitch's
book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, has also had a
major role in creating a window for serious criticism of the Obama-Duncan agenda.

* The first report, by a coalition of civil rights groups, said the government
should stop using low-income neighborhoods as laboratories for education
experiments and criticized the administration's education policies on a number of
issues -- including funding equity and charter schools. "Framework for Providing
All Students an Opportunity to Learn through Reauthorization of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act" is available at <

The second, entitled "Our Communities Left Behind: An Analysis of the
Administration's School Turnaround Policies," was published by a national
coalition of 24 community-based groups and includes a proposal for a new school
transformation model that emphasizes community involvement. <

So far, the Administration is not modifying its position. But that line may not
be sustainable much longer, as illustrated by Monty's trenchant comments on
President Obama's speech to the Urban League.

George Sheridan