I have a piece out in the new Weekly Standard about how Alabama failed in its efforts to allow charter schools. My friend RiShawn Biddle just sent me a piece of his own from some time back that I had not seen, that makes some of the same points. Biddle’s piece is a broader overview, and it is excellent.
Anyway, here’s an excerpt from my piece:
A powerful union won’t stay down long unless a strong governor, like Jindal, keeps a reformist agenda front and center. Lack of gubernatorial leadership, as in Alabama, can lead to a major fiasco. This is especially true when the union finds unlikely allies to carry its water. Most of the state’s county school superintendents, usually at odds with the union, and most local school boards, sometimes at odds with the AEA, along with the statewide school superintendent, appointed by a non-union-friendly state board, all came out vociferously against charters. ….Finally, Governor Robert Bentley, elected with the indirect help of the AEA (which spent some $3 million attacking his Republican primary opponent), provided only the most tepid of support for charters.
Governors matter. Biddle pushes the same themes, opening thusly:
If you want to understand why gubernatorial leadership matters in overhauling American public education — and why school reformers must mobilize politically in order to gain traction for their efforts — consider the profiles in courage -(or lack thereof) of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal in advancing their respective school choice and systemic reform plans.