Policies pushed by Third Way and other centrist Democrats not only don’t interrupt the death spiral, they hasten it.... on the issue of education where Third Way continues to bang the drum for a failed agenda that voters mostly reject.... Jeff BryantThe very name "Third Way" is a sign of trying to navigate the space between the left and right -- which to some might make sense for Dems. But when we examine the ed policies of 3rd wayers we see Obama-Duncan written all over it.
In its education manifesto “The New Normal in K-12 Education,” Third Way declares that the contentious arguments over important education matters — such as charter schools, standardized testing, and how to recruit and retain teachers – are essentially over and that those who are “fighting in the trenches” just need to get with the program. The “program,” Third Way advances sounds very much like what’s been in place for the past 15 years, especially during the Obama administration under the leadership of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The title of Third Way’s document is borrowed from Duncan’s own words to describe the need for schools to go along to get along with the “new normal” of Republican fiscal austerity coupled with ever harsher accountability mandates and more competition from charter schools.
Support for charter schools has dropped by double digit percentages among Democrats and Republicans, according to a recent poll. Another recent survey found the public is also generally opposed to using voucher money to send students to private schools, an idea pushed by current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that Third Way completely ignores (maybe because it’s too divisive). That survey also found most of voters don’t find test scores to be the best indicators of school quality.
By Jeff Bryant, director of the Education Opportunity Network, a partnership effort of the Institute for America’s Future and the Opportunity to Learn Campaign. He has written extensively about public education policy. Originally published at Alternet
“Here we go again,” was what many left-leaning folks likely felt after seeing a recent announcement about a new effort by wealthy donors to rescue the Democratic Party from its electoral doldrums. Backed by $20 million, the “New Blue” campaign, coming from politically centrist think tank Third Way, promises to lead the party out of the “wilderness” of its minority status to a pathway to “achieving progressive majorities up and down the ballot.”
Any lesson Third Way is trying to learn from its outreach to the working class is likely being lost in translation according to Molly Ball of The Atlantic. Ball accompanied Third Way researchers on a foray into middle America to find out why communities in Wisconsin, Indiana, and other parts of the Midwest flipped from voting Democratic to Republican in 2016.
Ball notes that while Third Way professes to advocate for “what the plurality of Americans are thinking,” it tends to favor an agenda that doesn’t align particularly well with what the majority of Americans, or even most Democrats, seem to want.