Below are the most egregious examples:
- The current platform, set to expire at the convention, addressed the issue of the place of standardized tests in education, particularly the MCAS. The MCAS is a rather arbitrary standardized test administered by a well-connected private company in New Hampshire — see here and here for more. The current platform opposes “high stakes testing, including the use of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests as the sole determinant for graduation from high school”. All of that is gone. Support for “comprehensive, authentic, and multiple means of assessment for students, schools, and districts” has also been axed from the platform. Rejection of MCAS-based scholarships? Vanished. This draft platform is completely, 100% silent on the conservative, privatized “test or fail” approach to education. This means that the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee has released a document that moves significantly further to embracing the model whereby a student’s success is measured by which bubbles s/he fills in.
- The current platform supports “amendments providing assistance to poorly performing schools rather than the sanctions imposed by the federal Elementary and Secondary School Education Act, known as the No Child Left Behind Act.” The draft platform is silent on George W. Bush’s power grab on behalf of federal bureaucrats.
- The draft platform ignores the issue of charter schools. Capping the number of these quasi-public schools, which have all the funding and protections of public education without many of their obligations, is mentioned in the old platform. This platform is silent on that issue.
- The draft platform refuses to support bilingual education. It also ignored testimony I organized from several dozen professors, parents and educators in support of a challenging education for gifted and talented students. Special education students are singled out as the only ones needing specific support in the draft platform.
- We have gone from “we support increased funding to our public higher education system” to “we support public higher education”. Same on public libraries. I gather the state committee supports delicious ice cream on a hot summer’s day as well.
- One beam in Jefferson’s “wall of separation“of church and state has been scrubbed as well: “We oppose any effort to change the state constitutional prohibition against public funding of private or religious schools, including the use of credits or vouchers.” has been replaced by…nothing.
In short, this is a coward’s platform, and I regret that I was out of state when this abomination was composed and passed at the state committee meeting. Perhaps the Massachusetts Democratic Party thinks its members will dumbly assent to this evisceration of liberal values in education. Maybe they think there is safety in gutlessly standing for puppy dogs, mom’s apple pie, and not much else. These people clearly have no interest in taking a stand on anything to do with education.
I think they are wrong. If you agree, please get in touch with me at so we can organize to defend real public education — a world-elite institution — in this state. Please use all, part, or a snippet of this as you see fit on your own blog or email. The state party is trying to wave the flag of surrender on education, and we can’t let them.
Below are side-by-side copies of full summary of the current and draft platforms.
|Current platform||Draft of new platform|
|Massachusetts Democrats believe that a high quality, publicly funded education is the cornerstone of our society, our democracy, and our economy.
We oppose high stakes testing, including the use of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests as the sole determinant for graduation from high school.
|Massachusetts Democrats believe that everyone should have access
to high-quality educational opportunities from birth through adulthood.
We believe that our education system should successfully prepare
our children for life and work. Massachusetts Democrats are
mitted to investing in public education because we know that it is
the cornerstone of our society, our democracy, and our economic
Massachusetts Democrats Support:
a) High-quality, universal preschool and full-day kindergarten;
b) Closing the achievement gap for poor and minority students;
c) High school drop out prevention programs;
d) Smaller class sizes;
e) Professional development for public educators;
f) High-quality after school and summer enrichment programs;
Massachusetts Democratic Party
g) Expanded learning time;
h) The preservation and enhancement of our school and public
i) Civics education as an integral part of public school curriculum;
j) Accessibility for special needs students and adequate funding;
k) Closer relationship between parents, guardians, teachers and
l) Innovative programs to encourage recruitment and retention of
high quality teachers;
m) Public higher education;
n) College affordability and needs-based financial aid;
o) In-state tuition for all resident students who are admitted to
Massachusetts public colleges and universities; and
p) Adult Basic Education and English for Speakers of Other
(Cross-posted on Blue Mass Group, and whoever else will post it.