Teachers Unions Notch Big Wins on State Education Votes

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, November 8, 2012

Teachers unions won several big victories in both red and blue states Tuesday, overturning laws that would have eliminated tenure in Idaho and South Dakota, defeating a threat to union political work in California, and ousting a state schools chief in Indiana who sought to fundamentally remake public education.

The night didn't belong entirely to big labor; advocates of charter schools, which are typically non-union, scored a win in Georgia and looked likely to prevail in a tough fight in Washington state.

But unions had the bigger trophies - none bigger than in Indiana, where they stunned pundits by handing a loss to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, who was running for a second term.

Bennett, a Republican, had emerged as a national leader in the bipartisan education reform movement. He pushed to grade schools and teachers by their students' test scores. He gave middle-income families vouchers to pay tuition at private and parochial schools. He seized control of struggling public schools, then turned them over to private managers, including a for-profit company based in Florida. And he required 9-year-olds to pass a reading test before earning promotion to fourth grade.

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