Governor Romney to his credit touted the high achievement of Massachusetts’ students during his term as Governor but neglects to mention that students of that state routinely perform in the top bracket, and have since 1993 when bipartisan change was passed in that state, long before his inauguration. What Mr. Romney did propose was more Charter Schools, and reforms that punish teachers such as tenure reform and merit pay. Merit pay specifically is presented to the public as a means to reward teachers for effective teaching, but the measure of good teaching isn’t limited to test results—some classroom combinations won’t “succeed” under the current measurements for a variety of reasons which stem back to my earlier statements about circumstances and schema. What merit pay does then is drive a wedge between teachers dependent on the settings and pupils they receive. While there are a handful of teachers that are ineffective there are more responsible ways to deal with that issue than to take an especially collaborative field and turn it into a nasty and competitive one.
The Governor has also eschewed all evidence that shows that smaller class sizes—which require more teachers—are beneficial to students learning. The fact that this proven and common sense notion can be so easily dismissed is concerning. Governor Romney has also stated that if “teaching to the test” teaches basic skills to students then he doesn’t see the problem—for some reason he hasn’t realized that the test doesn’t measure student learning accurately, and therefore it doesn’t teach them the skills they need. Additionally Mr. Romney has pledged support for voucher programs that defund the system while simultaneously driving working families into debt to cover tuition bills.
So while the President and the Governor are both aligned on standardization and test scores they differ mainly by the ways in which they aim to treat teachers. The Governor seeks to divide their unity and undermine their input on what makes them effective while the President aims, to his credit, to hire more of them—but to measure them by a faulty standard or a system that requires failure to prove rigor.
It is for these reasons above all others that I have chosen to support the Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein in this coming election. Her education platform is perfectly in line not only with my personal views of education as a parent and an educator but also with most vocal educators concerned (and those of Diane Ravitch who has retracted and denounced her efforts and role in developing the No Child Left Behind legislation). I am throwing in with a third party in hopes of helping alternative voices be heard in this country as opposed to the minutia based attempts to draw distinction between the Democrat and Republican parties collectively. As a registered Independent I was receptive to the most sensible platform available—I am not looking for perfect but rather for hope. I voted for the President in 2008 hoping for more, I was open to Mr. Romney in that same hope. I found a platform that I was able to agree with in the Green Party (though admittedly not on every point) and have chosen to go another route with my vote, both in idealistic optimism but also in protest to the lack of compromise and dialogue between the dominant parties that has escalated to an alarming level over the past dozen years.
Regardless of this I am not naive and did not come to my conclusion to pledge my vote to Dr. Stein lightly or easily, especially when I know that it will be either one of you who will win the Presidency. So I implore you in the coming term, whomever the President might be, to seriously reconsider the direction education is taking in this country. It above all else is the key to the future success of our nation, any other domestic reform, program, or initiative is a band-aid on an amputation. The future of this country hinges greatly on the choices the President of the United States will make in leading reforms through Congress and setting the tone for states in what education can and will do—or not—for our children, and our people. I thank you for your time in reading my letter and hope that it has found a home in your hearts and minds.
Brandon M, Melendez, M.A.