Election Implications for Education

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Reposted from U.S. News & World Report:

This was not an election about education. But it should be no surprise that the nation’s schools and colleges, which together constitute the largest piece of state spending, will be front and center when determining what the results mean for the nation’s families.

Teachers unions alone spent more than $60 million dollars. For the second time in three years, they painted a neon target on the back of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (Remember, a few years ago, Walker successfully waged a hugely controversial fight to whittle down the say that union contracts have in Wisconsin’s schools.) The unions also went after Republican Govs. Rick Snyder in Michigan, Sam Brownback in Kansas and Rick Scott in Florida, as well as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island. (Raimondo took on public sector unions as state treasurer.) Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, went so far as to tell the Washington Post that they “have a score to settle with Scott Walker.” Lily Esklesen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, stumped for Snyder’s opponent on Saturday and Scott’s on Sunday.

The unions lost in each of these expensive, nail-biter races. They did pull out a win in the hugely expensive California superintendent’s race between two Democrats (more on that in a moment). But that was about the only bright spot. What could have been an impressive demonstration of teacher union might instead turned into another suggestion that teacher unions are still in the midst of an ongoing challenge to their influence, struggling to find their footing.

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