This commentary in Education Week about how educators should become political animals is interesting on two levels. First, best I can tell it’s only the 12th time the world “zebra” has appeared in Ed Week. But second, it doesn’t quite add up and seems to have the landscape almost exactly backwards. Education interests are political animals, they don’t need to become them. The two largest teachers unions, for instance, are not only the biggest spenders in education politics, they’re among the very biggest spenders in all of American politics. At the local level educators are enormously influential in politics, too. Check out a school board race sometime. All that money and influence isn’t always effective in achieving its goals (though it often is), this is politics after all, but it’s there nonetheless.
If anything – to torture the piece’s animal kingdom analogy a little further – there is a new invasive species that is shaking things up: The current crop of reform groups at the local, state, and national level. But those groups are coming into an environment that is already a highly political system.