There was plenty of good news in last night’s election in terms of education initiatives, despite huge spending by the SuperPacs, billionaires and astroturf groups to push pro-privatization, free market corporate reform provisions.Though pro-charter school initiatives in Georgia and Washington won, while outspending the opposition by millions of dollars, the Gates-supported proposition in Washington prevailed by only a razor thin margin.
In California, Proposition 30 was victorious, which will prevent huge budget cuts to the state’s already underfunded schools. Also Proposition 32 lost, which would have prohibit unions from making political contributions, leaving the field for the plutocrats to further wreck our economy and privatize our public schools.
While Michael Bloomberg is apparently claiming great victories through his own recently formed SuperPAC, he actually lost big last night, especially in terms of the education policies he is promoting.
Let us count the ways:
- Indiana State Superintendent Tony Bennett, an aggressively pro-voucher, anti-teacher education chief, and according to Diane Ravitch, “the face of right wing reform in America” was defeated by teacher Glenda Ritz, despite outspending her by more than $1 million. As the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported, “His campaign chest of about $1.5 million included contributions from billionaires and hedge-fund managers far from Indiana” including, according to the Huffington Post, an undetermined amount of Bloomberg SuperPAC cash .
- In Idaho, all three Propositions 1, 2, and 3, also known as the “Luna laws” after their right-wing State Superintendent Tom Luna, lost big. These laws would have weakened teacher tenure and collective bargaining rights, would have imposed merit pay, and would have radically expanded online learning, authorizing the state to spend $180M to lease laptops for students. Bloomberg contributed $200,000 to a secret fund to the campaign to defend these laws.
- Also going to down in flames was the charter amendment in Bridgeport Connecticut, that would have imposed mayoral control and eliminated their elected school board, to which Bloomberg contributed $20,000.
- Closer to home, the GOP seems to have lost its majority in the NY State Senate -- despite receiving a cool $1 million from Bloomberg in September, thought to be the largest single donation ever given to a state party. If a Democratic majority holds, this bodes well for parents, teachers and education advocates who would like the state Legislation to approve more progressive education policies -- including the possibility of providing checks and balances to our own extremely unpopular and coercive system of mayoral control, which unlike the citizens of Bridgeport, we never got to vote on.
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