While there’s been a lot of attention in Georgia to the charter school amendment passage, there were major education issues decided elsewhere in the country.
John I. Wilson, a long-time special education teacher and former executive director of the National Education Association, wrote about some of them in his Education Week blog.
In his essay, Wilson says these votes show that the public trusts its teachers.
To illustrate this, let’s look at one of the reddest states in America, Idaho. The voters were not fooled by misleading slogans like “Students Come First” or the rhetoric of Tom Luna, state superintendent of public instruction. They rejected three recently passed state laws that rolled back collective bargaining rights, implemented merit pay based on standardized test scores, and established laptops and online credits at the expense of teachers and reasonable class size. Voters listened to teachers’ concerns about being excluded from decision-making, using student testing inappropriately and at the expense of quality instruction, and pitting teachers against technology instead of seeing it as a teaching tool rather than a teacher replacement. Teachers exposed the shady business practices of those who were using taxpayer dollars to drive personal agendas as well as the out-of-state financiers of the proposed teacher-bashing laws. Idahoans stood by their children’s teachers.
Now let’s review the returns from one of the bluest states, California. The voters there rejected a blatant attempt to silence teachers from participating in our democracy. The billionaire Koch brothers channeled millions into supporting a proposal that would disallow teachers’ political contributions through payroll deductions. Sadly, even some folks who tout themselves as education reformers participated in the effort to silence teachers. They lost because the voters respected the teachers. Efforts to curtail political activity among teachers have usually come from politicians who didn’t receive the teachers’ political endorsements, and the public can see that. Because the public supports fairness, voters in California sided with teachers.
Finally, let’s go to Indiana. This was a stunner. Glenda Ritz, a 33-year teaching veteran and a National Board Certified Teacher, defeated Tony Bennett, State Superintendent, who had led Chiefs for Change, a conservative group that promoted anti-teacher policies. Ritz took the teacher voice to the voters. She made the case for using standardized tests appropriately rather than for high-stakes decisions on pay, evaluation, and professional development. She also promoted a great public school for every child. The voters trusted her and elected her. The new governor and legislators in Indiana would be smart to work with her on an agenda that truly advances a quality education for every student.
There were many other places where voters listened to their teachers.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog