Lots of people are weighing in on the implications of Tuesday’s election results.
- Eduwonk Rotherham has a good piece in Time magazine lamenting Tony Bennett’s loss (my thoughts on that here), celebrating the wins for charter schools, and noting the continued strength of teachers unions when they are tested.
- Mike comes to many of the same conclusions. Tom Luna’s losses get his attention, as do a number of results from the Midwest.
- Stergios also highlights the charter wins and the fallout from Bennett’s undoing (particularly regarding Common Core) and adds accountability and ESEA reauthorization to the list of affected subjects.
- Naturally, the prolific Rick Hess has a series of posts on the subject, declaring the night a split decision for reformers. He emphasizes the union wins and the subtle split in the reform community between conservatives and progressives. See here for his take on Bennett’s loss and its implications for Common Core.
- The WSJ’s Stephanie Branchero also concludes that voters are divided. Branchero discusses Luna’s losses, the charter win in WA, and CA’s decision to spend more on schools.
- Politics K-12 is already looking ahead, surfacing the five big issues facing Secretary Duncan during the second term.
One final thought from yours truly: Lots of reformers, especially those in the ed-tech camp, continue to think that Common Core is just about the best thing produced in eons. So there’s a good deal of cheerleading going on, and
- Tony Bennett lost his re-election bid. There’s no sugar-coating it: This one hurts. Bad. As I wrote yesterday (and told the Associated Press), this was a referendum on the most aggressive reform agenda in the country. Despite being massively outspent, the unions managed to get one of their own elected to this critical post. We’ll have to wait for more data to determine the degree to which conservatives also punished Bennett for his support of the Common Core. If that was the deciding factor, it will go down as one of the stupidest moves in the annals of education policy history. Bennett will be fine (I suspect he’s already getting calls from Florida, Ohio, and other states looking for a hard-charging state supe). But a union-backed state superintendent is going to wreak all kinds of havoc in the state’s new voucher program and much else. (Just ask choice supporters in Wisconsin, where state superintendent Tony Evers has made life hard on choice schools for years.) Bad, bad, sad.
- The Washington State charter initiative is ahead. They are still counting the votes; it’s going to be a squeaker. But a victory is a victory, and it looks like charter schools are coming to Seattle.
Want to know if school reform is winning in the court of public opinion? If the myriad efforts at ed-reform advocacy are paying off? Here are seven races and referenda to watch tonight, in order of importance:
Ed Reform Idol Tony Bennett with the author.
Photo by Joe Portnoy.
1. Tony Bennett’s re-election
No one has pushed a more aggressive education-reform agenda than Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction (and Ed-Reform Idol) Tony Bennett and his fellow ed-reform activist Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. A big win will give a big boost to Hoosier-style reform.
2. The Washington State charter initiative
Seattle is the largest city in the country that doesn’t have any charter schools. This initiative would finally fix that. Charter supporters have failed at the polls before; will they prevail this time around?
3. Idaho’s Propositions 1 and 2
These two referenda would limit the scope of collective bargaining and mandate that student achievement be included in teacher evaluations. The unions are fighting these aggressively; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is paying to defend them.
4. Michigan’s Proposition 2
This union-backed measure would enshrine collective-bargaining rights in the state constitution. Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst group is working to defeat it.
5. Georgia’s charter-school resolution
This would amend the
A huge part of my educational worldview is “sector agnosticism,” my disinterest in who runs schools as long as those schools are high performing. My new book is built around this philosophy; it argues for a new urban school system that assesses each school based on its performance and then applies strategies to schools based on their performance not on their operators.
Private schools should be part of the urban school system of the future.
Unlike so many others studying urban education, I believe that private schools should be part of this urban school system of the future. Per my axiom above, I don’t much care if an urban school is run by a private or religious organization if it gets great results for underserved kids and adheres to basic democratic, pluralistic principles.
But in the past when the state attempts to fold private schools into the mix via scholarship or tax-credit programs, public accountability is always the major stumbling block. Will participating private schools test students and report results? Will they test just the scholarship kids or all of their students? What test will they use? Will low-performance disqualify a private school from participation?
It has appeared for years that public debate and public policy would be unable to solve this problem. But we may have had a breakthrough.
As Ed Week’s Eric Robelen reports in this fascinating article, more and more private schools are choosing
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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