The #1 and #2 finishers in the Republican straw poll in Iowa this weekend have some interesting (read not especially relevant to the mainstream debate) views about schools and ed policy – Paul has the standard libertarian take and Bachmann is more than a little out there and had a rocky experience launching a charter school. But the next finisher, Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty, who subsequently dropped out of the race, has been regarded as something of a leader on education. Indeed, when “education insiders” were asked, “which of the announced Republican candidates for President would be the best for education policy?” We were not handicapping odds of winning but rather policy quality. On that measure over the past few months Pawlenty consistently finished well ahead of the pack. But in addition to Pawlenty’s other struggles, education doesn’t seem to matter a lot in the campaign right now and seems unlikely to absent some economic changes.