#1 Riddle me this. If the Democrats fare well in the midterm election this won’t Republican anger really get going when they wake on up November 7th and contemplate four more years of President Obama? Seems like low-hanging fruit could be vulnerable in places where the Rs have some leverage. So what’s an initiative that Republicans think is federal overreach, that a lot of state officials/legislators aren’t that enthused about, and that you could undo in red states with minimal disruption and cost? I can think of one…Common Core standards and assessments! On the other hand, if the Republicans do well in November they’re going to roll back some Obama Administration education initiatives – with Romney and Santorum the only question is by how much not whether that’s going to happen. So what’s a big initiative they see as federal overreach and could back off of through executive action? Oh wait, I can think of one…Common Core standards and assessments! I’m generally in favor of the Common Core, though for reasons other than what many are expecting it to do, but the politics do seem trickier than is generally being acknowledged in the political dialogue. Common Core supporters seem to think that the opposition is just a few people with email lists, that’s a misreading of the environment out there. So isn’t Common Core’s basic challenge to become deeply ingrained enough to survive before January 2013? This isn’t binary btw – meaning the choice isn’t Core or no Core. Rather the issue is whether there is some significant peel-off.
#2 It’s no secret within Virginia or outside of it that Governor Bob McDonnell would like to be Vice President come 2013. And who can blame him. But did the lack of action on education in Virginia during the almost concluded legislative session hurt him? Republican legislators found all kinds of time to debate a variety of social measures – including some pretty far out there provisions on women’s health that put the governor in a political vise. But they couldn’t get it together to pass any meaningful education reform – for instance expanding school choice in a state that’s an embarrassment on an increasingly mainstream issue. Don Soifer tries to put lipstick on a pig with regard to the pending charter law revisions but if anyone thinks it’s going to change the status quo then I’ve got some ocean view property to sell you in Virginia’s lovely Floyd County. Meanwhile some of the other Republican governors are getting a lot done on schools. Why didn’t the governor go big on education? It’s a real need for the commonwealth and would have been a strong calling card, something the governor needs given the dynamics of the GOP contest and his profile. And there is plenty that can happen absent a constitutional change with strong leadership.
#3 Speaking of vises (with an ‘s’ not the more fun ‘c’ kind). Seems like the ground is starting to shift under the teachers unions some. Some of their leaders are trying to respond to the pressure for reform by striking some deals and trying to move things forward and are now increasingly attacked from both sides – for being insufficiently reformist and being too pro-reform. It’s an old story in certain instances (see how to win a local teachers union election 101) but seems to be becoming more widespread. Big signal: When the leader of New York’s state teachers’ organization has to push back on Washington Post reporter/propagandist Valerie Strauss because of a bunch of misinformation about a deal he was party to it’s a sign that the alignment is shifting. And more teachers union leaders are starting to discuss the challenges of being significantly cross-pressured. Or it’s a sign that things are going to get crazier and more contentious? Or both? Also speaking of NY and teacher eval, good overview of situation there via Andrew Ujifusa.