Change We Can Believe In (And Change You Can Bank Votes On)

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

August 27, 2008

Like everyone else in Denver this week for the Democratic National Convention, we've been running around like mad around the clock, attending event after exhausting event. Will try to quickly update some of the coverage – in blogs and in print – of the "Ed Challenge for Change" event on Sunday that we sponsored along with the Piton Foundation and several dozen other organizations.

Dan Gerstein gives it a mention in this Wall Street Journal piece from this morning. The relevant parts:

And the ideal issue for Mr. Obama to focus on in the speech and beyond, as Mayor Bloomberg can attest, is education. No challenge is more consequential for our country than closing the achievement gap in our urban schools and raising the competitiveness of our workforce. And no special interest has done more to stand in the way of change in our public schools than the teachers unions that dominate Democratic politics.

The unions' chokehold on the party (and by extension the futures of millions of black and Hispanic children) is starting to loosen. One sign of that was the impressive number of progressive leaders who showed up to support Mr. Obama's change agenda and embrace an aggressively pro-innovation set of principles at a forum sponsored by Democrats for Education Reform (full disclosure: the group is a client of mine) here in Denver on Sunday. That group included three of the country's most influential African-American mayors, all rising stars in the party — Adrian Fenty in Washington, Cory Booker in Newark, and Michael Nutter in Philadelphia.

Imagine what the party's first African-American presidential nominee could do to liberate millions of low-income children of color, not to mention elevate his standing as a change agent, simply by declaring that the era of unequal education is over in America. Mr. Obama doesn't have to, nor should he, attack or even mention the unions. Just do what he has already done (but louder): challenge his own party to change its policies to put children first, and embrace innovative solutions like longer school days and years, high-quality charter schools, and performance pay for teachers.

That's not just change you can believe in. That's change you can bank votes on.