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Politics As Unusual – Education Shapes the Campaign Debate for Key Primaries

(Newswire, June 5, 2018)  “A subterranean divide among Democrats between backers of teachers unions and those of charter schools and other education innovations is helping shape key gubernatorial primaries…” so reports the AP.

There are clearly sides to be chosen here – we line up with pro-charter Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and against anti-charter New York actress Cynthia Nixon – but a larger point can be found in the fact that these are campaign issues in the first place.  Time was that charters and edreform were backburner issues in political campaigns but many places have reached a tipping point in matters of education and bringing key edreform issues to fore, even within the parties themselves.

In Colorado, for example, where as the AP notes, tension has been building over education for months – so much so that “during the party’s convention in April, activists tried to forbid the group Democrats for Education Reform, which backs candidates who support innovations like charter schools and evaluations, from using the party’s name in its title.”

Paradoxically, some of this strife is being driven the teachers unions, which either have an axe to grind against particular candidates (Villaraigosa angered the unions when, as mayor, he took over several failing schools and criticized the unions; and Cuomo has angered teachers unions with a proposal to make it easier to remove incompetent instructors and by support charters and their advocates) or are still on a high from their walk-out-campaign that, in their minds, strengthens their hand politically.

We’ll see how it all shakes out, but no matter the winners or losers that fact that there is now some debate within the Democratic establishment on these issues is good news.

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