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Post Election Post Mortem

November 9, 2014

I’ve read several post mortems about the election and as a public education advocate and progressive I am coming to the same conclusion that Paul Simon reached four decades ago when he wrote about politics in “Mrs. Robinson”:

“Laugh about it, Shout about it, When you’ve got to choose,

Any way you look at it you lose” 

Inside Higher Ed laments that the election may change the President’s opportunity to create and impose a rating system on colleges– which was a misbegotten idea from the outset as far as I was concerned– so had the Democrats won we’d be stuck with yet another bad means of measuring publicly funded enterprises. On the other hand, the new Republican majority in the Senate is likely to hamstring his effort to regulate the for-profit colleges, which means more money flowing from the pockets of disadvantaged college students into banks and the coffers of shareholders of the private schools.

The progressive blog Public School Shakedown’s analysis of the elections found some solace in the defeat of Governor Corbett in PA and Marshall Tuck in CA. The Pyrrhic nature of Tuck’s victory was the topic of a post here a few days ago, and Diane Ravitch, while happy to see Corbett and his budget cutting voted out of office, noted that the victory went to someone who serves on the board of a for-profit charter school. Another Pyrrhic victory.

And last but not least, we have nominal Democrat Andrew Cuomo in New York, who during the last week promised to break up the “public school monopoly” . This editorial from the New York Daily News gives one a sense of what lies in store for New York Schools… and it isn’t pretty. The only thing that mitigates this fear is that Cuomo promised the Working Families he’d join their fight to elect a Democratic majority to the Senate and then sat on the sidelines. Oh… and that other promise about the Moreland Commission… he didn’t keep that one either. So those of us who believe the public school monopoly is better than, say, the internet provider monopolies in place in most of the country are hoping Cuomo keeps breaking promises.

From my perspective, one election outcome that has been underreported is that the states with referenda on minimum wage had turnouts ranging from the mid to high 40% range to the mid 50%— low by most standards but higher than the the 36.6% in the nation as a whole. And in those states where Republican governors were elected a progressive issue— increasing the minimum wage won handily. Unfortunately the Democrats running for office in those states did not link their fortunes to these votes. Why not? My guess is that they did not want to alienate the businesses who underwrite their campaigns or give their opponents a chance to cast them as “job-killers”. That’s too bad because it would have brought the debate on that issue to the forefront.

Those of us who want to see and end to the standardized testing regimen, the blaming of teachers, the dismantling of unions and race-to-the-bottom on wages and benefits for educators, and the wholesale privatization of schools have roughly a year to get our act together or once again we’ll be faced with NO choice… and students will be subjected to another four years of narrow and highly regimented teaching.


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