A couple of education implications from yesterday’s primaries. In Baltimore Bill Ferguson (D) won, keep an eye on that. In Delaware two outcomes from the Christine O’Donnell upset in Delaware. First, Rep. Mike Castle (R) was a pretty consistent champion of education in the House of Representatives, especially education research. His voice on that will be missed. Second, the understory is that New Castle County executive Chris Coons, the Democratic nominee for Senate that O’Donnell will face in November, is a very solid public servant and thoughtful on education. I’ve known him a while. He’s a centrist and will be a voice for common-sense education reform in the Senate – where he seems pretty likely headed.
In D.C. where the incumbent mayor lost to the city council chair, I’ll write more later but a couple of short points:
It’s Rhee! It’s Rhee! It’s a referendum on Rhee! As Sara Mead has noted, it’s useful to actually read the polls. In fact, while Michelle Rhee was an issue in the election it was more as part of the overall criticism of Fenty and the zeitgeist of the election than a deciding factor. When voters were specifically asked about Rhee only one in three said she was crucial to their vote – one way or the other – and parents of kids in the schools were actually more likely to support Mayor Adrian Fenty than now-Mayor-elect Vincent Gray. In any event, much as people in education like to think so, elections rarely turn exclusively on education.
Vince Gray, leader for the ages? When the incoming mayor says, “Let me say this to those who say you can’t have both collaboration and reform, that they are mutually exclusive,” he said. “I say, ‘You are wrong!’ … Make no mistake, school reform will move forward in a Gray administration.” As one of those, I’ll say that you surely and sincerely have to hope he’s right but on urban education reform he’s swimming against the tide of history (and in this case a teachers’ union wanting some payback for its support, too!).
Still, this will have some impact on reform in the city and reform nationally. Probably not the gloom and doom stuff you’re hearing from some folks this morning, but (facts of the election aside) it’s going to matter. More later.
*This post was slightly updated from the original for style about 20 mins after being posted, none of the points were changed.