Last week, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado, who purports to be a “a progressive,” called Diane Ravitch an “evil woman” and compared her to the Koch Brothers tweeting ,“Can’t think of anybody else who has caused more harm to public schools, except maybe Koch brothers.”
As we are learning, Polis failed to reveal that not only is he a charter school advocate but his foundation, with the help of his company, actually formed a charter school or two in his home state of Colorado.
As we know, charter schools like to brag about their higher test scores, but traditionally use their recruitment process and “out migration” policies to push out less academically proficient students and, almost across the board, fail to take their fair share of non-English speaking students and students who require special education services.
More to the point, while this “neo-liberal” Congressman is pushing his new FEARLESS PAC, he also serves as the treasurer of the NEW DEMOCRAT COALITION PAC, an organization that is a far cry from being part of the progressive movement.
As a member of the “New Democratic Coalition,” Polis has consistently pushed an agenda that is as anti-teacher, anti-union and anti-public education as any group of Democrats in the nation.
This past summer Polis was pushing language to amend the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Authorization Act (ESEA). But rather than correct the worst elements of the bills, Polis was pushing the corporate education reformer’s agenda.
In one release, Congressman Jared Polis bragged, “We need an entrepreneurial approach to encourage high-quality, proven models of success in education.”
One of Polis’ proposed amendments would have required local schools “make progress towards the goal of cutting achievement gaps in half in 6 years or towards 100% proficiency, or face interventions including transformation, turnaround, restart and closure.”
Another Polis amendment would have provided, “more flexibility for charter schools to use Charter Schools Program grants” and require states and schools to “allow per-pupil revenue to be split across districts.” [Rather self-serving coming from someone who is tapping into public funds for a charter school he himself set up].
Yet another amendment Polis co-sponsored would provide that “district and non-statewide charter authorizers as eligible entities, increase the authorization level to 330 million, and will increase the percentage of funds for expansion and replication to 20% of the overall funding.” [Polis’ proposal being that in the face of scarce public funds, more and more taxpayer dollars should get diverted away from the public schools, and instead be used to subsidize schools like the ones he is involved in].
And where are these ideas coming from?
As the New Democrat Coalition began to prepare their amendments they proudly met with Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst, former Washington, D.C. Schools chief and confidant to non-other-than, Jeb Bush.
Few true public education advocates will forget the joint party Michelle Rhee and Jeb Bush hosted for Republican delegates at the last Republican National Convention.
As Congressman Jared Polis crowed in a press release at the time, the meeting with Rhee was “an opportunity for Members to hear first-hand Rhee’s experiences implementing reforms at the local level, discuss priorities moving forward, and collaborate on ways to better incentivize innovation and excellence in our schools to prepare students for college and jobs in the 21st century global economy.”
In the press release, Polis said, “”As those who advocate education reform, we must insist on making student achievement the top priority…”In order to ensure that every child attends an excellent school, we must challenge the status quo to ensure innovative choices, demand teacher effectiveness, and use data to drive instruction. That must be the test for education proposals from the local level all the way to the U.S. Congress.”
America’s standardized testing industry could not have been happier. Here is a Democratic Congressman, who calls himself a progressive, echoing their leave no child un-tested mentality.
In response to Polis’ ringing endorsement of the failed policies of the education reform industry, Michelle Rhee, the Patron Saint of the effort to privatize public education said, “I am honored to stand with the New Democrats as we seek to build a better educational system for America’s children.”
Perhaps the single most telling statement about why Congressman Jared Pollis’ would say such insulting, inappropriate and asinine things about America’s leading public school advocate can be found in his rhetoric in support of the passage of the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act(H.R. 2218).
When the bill passed, Jared Polis, in his capacity as the co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition Education Task Force, released a statement that read;
“The bipartisan Quality Charter School Act will spread the most successful charter school practices across America, strengthen school management, and ensure that every school is increasing student achievement. This is the first step toward the broader education reform that New Democrats want to see Congress achieve this year.”
No supporter of public education in America should be mistaken.
Congressman Jared Polis can call himself a progressive, a liberal or anything else he thinks will persuade targeted audiences to support him and his fundraising efforts but the so-called “Progressive” Congressman is among the most anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-public education Democrats in the nation.
Proponents of public education in the United States…beware of the name Jared Polis.
There is a reason that he thinks it is okay to call Diane Ravitch an evil woman.
It is because Diane is leading our historic crusade to call these people out for who they really are.
And not surprisingly, they don’t want the truth to be known.