Posts Tagged ‘Robert Bentley’
July 12th, 2012 at 1:10 pm
One More Exception on Education Reform
Posted by Print

Quin’s right to point out Alabama’s Robert Bentley as an exception to the growing trend of conservative governors pushing education reform pointed out in my column this week. Bentley deserves every ounce of scorn he’s getting for knuckling under to the unions. And while we’re in the midst of handing out demerits, I’ll also nominate Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

Around the same time that Bobby Jindal’s education reform package in Louisiana was doing its victory lap, Brewer vetoed a huge expansion of school vouchers in the Grand Canyon State with an explanation that defies exegesis:

… Brewer, while describing herself as a long-time advocate of school choice—citing other legislation she has signed promoting educational competition—also said “there is a careful balance we have to maintain.”

“We must enhance educational options wherever we can, but we must also ensure that government is not artificially manipulating the market through state budget or tax policy that would make an otherwise viable option so unattractive that it undermines rational choice in a competitive market,” the governor explained.

Impenetrable. This reads like a veto statement by James Joyce.

Obviously Brewer didn’t want to deal with the backlash from the educational establishment, so she sold out the members of the state legislature who were brave enough to take up the fight. How folks like Bentley and Brewer can look their state’s schoolchildren in the eyes is beyond me.

July 12th, 2012 at 11:21 am
On Education, a Sad GOP Exception

I commend Troy for his excellent column on school reforms being pushed by Republican governors.

Alas, there always seems to be one exception that proves the rule, one skunk in a beautiful garden party, one, uh, floatie in the punch bowl… and one cliche too many in an otherwise insightful blog post (meaning mine). In this case, the exception is Alabama’s Robert Bentley, elected at least in part with the help of the Alabama Education Association, who (I reported recently) had watched the defeat of what should have been a simple effort to allow charter schools, all while he provided scant leadership on the issue. Well, now Bentley has done even worse: He has announced that he will not even include a charter-school bill in his legislative package next year, despite the fact that the House and Senate leadership (Republicans all) want it.

The editorial board of the Mobile Press-Register gently chided Bentley for his abandonment of the cause. But that promises to be just the start of the reaction. Some Tea Party groups are rumbling about the abandonment, and there will surely be more public opprobrium heaped on the governor. After all, if Jindal, Christie, Daniels (and in earlier iterations, Jeb Bush, Tommy Thompson, and Lamar Alexander, among others) can push meaningful school reforms, why can’t Bentley, in a state desperately in need of them?

June 16th, 2012 at 12:40 pm
Jindal Outdoes Bentley (of Alabama) on School Choice

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.