Education Reform on the Ballot

Want to know if school reform is winning in the court of public opinion? If the myriad efforts at ed-reform advocacy are paying off? Here are seven races and referenda to watch tonight, in order of importance:

1. Tony Bennett’s re-election
No one has pushed a more aggressive education-reform agenda than Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction (and Ed-Reform Idol) Tony Bennett and his fellow ed-reform activist Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. A big win will give a big boost to Hoosier-style reform.

2. The Washington State charter initiative
Seattle is the largest city in the country that doesn’t have any charter schools. This initiative would finally fix that. Charter supporters have failed at the polls before; will they prevail this time around?

3. Idaho’s Propositions 1 and 2
These two referenda would limit the scope of collective bargaining and mandate that student achievement be included in teacher evaluations. The unions are fighting these aggressively; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is paying to defend them.

4. Michigan’s Proposition 2
This union-backed measure would enshrine collective-bargaining rights in the state constitution. Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst group is working to defeat it.

5. Georgia’s charter-school resolution
This would amend the state constitution, giving charter-school authorization power to a state commission. See today’s New York Times article for background.

6. The Wisconsin Senate
The Badger State has been home to raucous battles for two years over public-sector collective bargaining. Wisconsin Republicans also pushed through an important expansion of the state voucher program. Will they pay for it? Control of the state’s senate is up for grabs.

7. The Indiana House
We start and end with Indiana. Will Republican legislators pay for the far-sighted reforms they enacted in 2011? The GOP is unlikely to lose the chamber; but if they maintain their supermajority, it will be a strong indication that politicians can push for major reforms and survive.

I’ll be back tomorrow to see how our candidate, Ed Reform, fared.

– Mike Petrilli

This blog entry first appeared in the Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog.

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