Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Politico: Teachers unions take huge beating - Will They EVER Move Into the Real World?

Just before 4 a.m., Weingarten retweeted an optimistic take on the Torlakson lead: “I do believe we have saved public educ in Calif!” But with a significant number of ballots yet to be counted in Los Angeles, which polls had identified as a Tuck stronghold, no one was calling the race. And even a Torlakson win was likely to be scant consolation to labor in the big picture.... Stephanie Simon, Politico
Well, whoop-de-doo. Praise be to our savior - Torlakson? This is not an article by an ed deform hack journalist but by Stephanie Simon - straight arrow and skeptical of ed deform. Hope she takes a hard look at the undemocratic teacher unions lining up with a failed Democratic Party.
Teachers unions had repeatedly predicted that their get-out-the-vote effort, cranked up this cycle with renewed intensity, would push Democrats over the top in battleground states. Union members by the thousands devoted their evenings to phone banks and their weekends to door-to-door canvassing. They sent hundreds of thousands of handwritten cards urging allies to vote. And they confidently predicted that their status as teachers would help them persuade undecided voters to support Democrats pledging more funding for public schools.
Oops.
The US is ruled by ruthless elite which seeks to privatize public services and reduce the mass of the population to a compliant low wage labor force. This elite now controls both major parties. Its education policy is governed by both objectives.... Mark Naison

POLITICO: Teachers Unions Take Huge Beating

Teachers unions take huge beating
By STEPHANIE SIMON

Teachers unions framed this election as a referendum on their vision for public education.

Their vision was thumped.

Tens of millions in advertising portraying Republican governors as reckless ideologues who sold out kids’ futures to give tax breaks to the wealthy failed to move voters in Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas or Maine.

Unions and their allies sought to use education as a wedge issue in Senate races, too, from North Carolina to Arkansas to Iowa to Colorado. They lost every one.

And in one of the toughest blows, organized labor failed to protect Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in his tough fight for a second term. He lost to Republican Bruce Rauner, who has made no secret of his disdain for “union bosses,” his desire to rein in the teachers unions or his determination to overhaul public education by expanding charter schools and subsidizing private-school tuition through a targeted voucher program.

There were two bright spots for teachers unions: As expected, they succeeded in ousting Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. And as of early Wednesday, incumbent state Superintendent Tom Torlakson held a lead in California.


Otherwise, it was a bloodbath. And not just because of the near-total Republican sweep of the mostly hotly contested Senate seats and gubernatorial races.

Ardent foes of the Common Core were poised to take over as schools chiefs in Arizona and in Georgia, defeating more moderate candidates that the unions had fought hard to elect.

A ballot measure to raise money for public schools by hiking certain corporate taxes went down to a huge defeat in Nevada. A proposal to reduce class sizes — and, in the process, hire many new teachers — was trailing in Washington state, despite a huge lead in pre-election polling.

And the unions’ preferred measure for expanding access to pre-K and raising wages for child-care workers was on the way to defeat in Seattle.

Republicans were poised to take control of the New Mexico state house, flipping the chamber despite an aggressive effort by teachers unions to keep it in Democratic hands as a bulwark against Gov. Susana Martinez’ education reform agenda. And Democrats failed to flip the state Senate in New Hampshire — another union priority, especially after Republicans pushed through a controversial program to subsidize private-school tuition through tax credits.

Voters in Maine even reelected Gov. Paul LePage, who memorably dissed the very concept of public education by advising students: “If you want a good education, go to private schools. If you can’t afford it, tough luck. You can go to the public school.”

Early in the night, the presidents of both national unions hailed Corbett’s loss as an unmistakable sign that voters in Pennsylvania had rejected the conservative approach to education. “This election was a clear and resounding rebuke of Gov. Corbett and those politicians intent on stripping our schools of funding… and blaming educators to score political points,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Within hours, however, conservatives were trumpeting the strong wins for Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Gov. Rick Scott in Florida, Gov. Rick Snyder in Michigan and Gov. John Kasich in Ohio as a clear and convincing rebuke of union priorities across a farther broader swath of the nation.

“There is an undeniable wave moving across the country, fueled by parents who are challenging the education status quo,” said Matt Frendewey, a spokesman for the Alliance for School Choice, which supports vouchers.

Both Walker and Scott pushed in their first terms to expand voucher programs. In both states, that became a campaign issue — especially in Florida, where the state teachers union pressed a lawsuit this fall seeking to shut down a tax-credit scholarship program that subsidizes private-school tuition for tens of thousands of children. Advocates of vouchers took the Republican wins as a mandate to continue to grow voucher programs.

“Parents and proponents of educational choice sent a strong message tonight: Don’t mess with our children’s education,” said John Kirtley, chairman of the Florida Federation of Children. Voters “rewarded Gov. Scott for supporting educational choice,” he said, “and that message has resonated throughout the state.”

Teachers unions could hope early Wednesday that a victory in the California superintendents race would preserve some of their waning clout. The race between Torlakson and his challenger, former charter schools executive Marshall Tuck, drew unprecedented interest from outside parties. In the closing days, spending hit $30 million — three times the spending in the California governor’s race, where Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown coasted to an easy win. Torlakson was up by five percentage points with 77 percent of the vote counted.

Just before 4 a.m., Weingarten retweeted an optimistic take on the Torlakson lead: “I do believe we have saved public educ in Calif!”

But with a significant number of ballots yet to be counted in Los Angeles, which polls had identified as a Tuck stronghold, no one was calling the race.

And even a Torlakson win was likely to be scant consolation to labor in the big picture.

Teachers unions had repeatedly predicted that their get-out-the-vote effort, cranked up this cycle with renewed intensity, would push Democrats over the top in battleground states. Union members by the thousands devoted their evenings to phone banks and their weekends to door-to-door canvassing. They sent hundreds of thousands of handwritten cards urging allies to vote. And they confidently predicted that their status as teachers would help them persuade undecided voters to support Democrats pledging more funding for public schools.

“Educators are such a powerful validator,” Karen White, the national political director for the National Education Association, told POLITICO last month. “When you hear from a third-grade teacher, it’s viewed in a very different way” from a pitch coming from a typical political operative, she said. “Information coming from an educator is more relied on,” White said.

White also noted with pride that educators had starring roles in an unprecedented number of ads this cycle.

Yet the unions’ vaunted get-out-the-vote effort could not turn the red tide, even in traditional labor strongholds like Michigan and Illinois.

The upshot: Teachers unions will be thrown on the defensive in state after state. They’re already girding for more anti-tenure lawsuits modeled after the successful Vergara case in California, which overturned a series of teacher job protections.

Now they’ll have to fight emboldened Republican governors across the Midwest and even in the northeast, in states such as Maryland and Massachusetts. They will also face a re-energized — and bipartisan — school choice movement that will likely ramp up efforts in state legislatures and in Congress to expand charter schools and vouchers.

And they will face a restive public on the Common Core. The election results clearly keep the standards alive as a potent political issue, especially in red states. That could complicate the unions’ efforts to shift away from rehashing debates about the standards’ value and instead focus on supporting teachers trying to implement them in the classroom.

In Georgia, Republican Richard Woods notched a solid victory in the superintendents race over Democrat Valarie Wilson, who was endorsed by the teachers union. Woods has vowed to repeal the standards. His election will likely energize legislative opponents of the Common Core, who tried to repeal the standards last session but failed after a strong pushback from the business community.

In Arizona, meanwhile, Republican Diane Douglas was holding on to a narrow but persistent lead with more than 90 percent of precincts reporting. Her win would be a huge triumph for Common Core foes, as her entire platform was based on her opposition to the standards. She was beating Democrat David Garcia, who had racked up glowing endorsements from a notably bipartisan coalition including the teachers unions, the business community, newspaper editorial boards and politicians from both parties.

Wyoming may also end up reconsidering the Common Core, after Republican Jillian Balow walloped Democrat Mike Ceballos in the state superintendent race. And in South Carolina, Republican Molly Spearman won the schools chief race; she has vowed to carry out Gov. Nikki Haley’s vision for replacing the Common Core with home-grown standards.

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