Why Rick Perry’s Entrance into the GOP Field is Bad News for Ed Reformers

I suppose I should admit to seeing myself as an oddball. When compared to my friends whom have joined me in opposing the corporate/test-based reform movement, I enter the battle with a different resume. While its true I’m a public school teacher who is pro-union (Full disclosure: I will receive retirement benefits from the Major League Baseball Player’s Association in addition to those I will receive from Florida’s  pension system) I have actively written in support of republican candidates. I also opposed Barack Obama’s candidacy. My transformation to the perspective I write from now was abrupt and epiphanic. The alteration of Florida’s education system by Rick Scott and his ideological privatization allies in the legislature was abominable in it’s heavy-handed treachery.

I’ve neither forsaken nor lost all  past allegiances and philosophies and have been following republican presidential politics with interest. Today’s entry of Texas Governor Rick  Perry into the race has the potential to be a pivotal moment in the battle for the soul of the nation’s education policy.

Rick Perry – who will soon race to the top in polling numbers – is not part of the education reform clique. He might even turn into the anti-ed reformer who ends up with influence that  trumps today’s establishment republicans. Perry’s feud with Texas’ first republican family named Bush is well-known in political circles.

So vigorous is that feud that the Bush family and it’s loyalists actively pushed Senator Kaye Bailey Hutchison into the primary to challenge Perry. A politician of unique skill, Perry dispatched of Hutchison in what seemed to be just a few weeks time during the run-up to the primary. The popular and well-respected US senator was never a factor in her bid to unseat Perry.

Are roots of the Bush-Perry feud based in education policy.? They could be. Perry was openly critical of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and told him  it was bad policy. As governor, Perry refused to enter the RTTT sweepstakes and pulled out of a state organization which was pushing common core standards. Perry even enjoys support from a few teacher associations within the state.

His description of NCLB as a “monstrous intrusion into our affairs” is likeliest embedded in an appreciation for state sovereignty. But what has been realized by opponents who oppose current education reformers like Jeb Bush and Arne Duncan is that NCLB and RTTT serve as  their aganda’s elixir. Perry’s presence in the race along with another NCLB opponent in Michelle Bachmann will at the very least cause a platform fight over education at next summer’s GOP convention in Tampa. If education policy becomes an issue in republican primaries before then, and even better outcome could be in the offing:

UPDATE: Apparently, Valerie Strauss sees similarly.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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7 Responses to Why Rick Perry’s Entrance into the GOP Field is Bad News for Ed Reformers

  1. Sandra says:

    Powerful political and corporate interests are involved in education reform initiatives. Bucking those forces can be political suicide. Charlie Crist is an example…..he vetoed SB6, a bad law, which was tantamount to thumbing his nose at Jeb. Scott signed a slightly revised version required to guarantee RT3 funding, (oddly from the source Scott prefers NOT to get money from), but follows Jeb’s orders.

    Perry may get an initial bump, but we’ll have to wait and see how the dynamics unfold. Two big States, California and Texas, have bucked some of the federal education initiatives.That fatct matters.

    • Bob Sikes says:

      I’m not so sure anymore. Education was important in the Crist-Rubio dynamic, but not the key. Crist acceptance of Obama stimulus cash was the initial spark that helped propel Rubio. Where I agree with your point is the unhinged rage that Crist experiences from state republican pols. This demonstrated for me that thet possessed a level of zealotry which does not serve Florida well. Its been a unhill battle for them since SB736’a passage. Bad press, a collapse of NCLB and the discrediting of Rhee has eaten away at their influence. Jeb Bush’s desperate behind-the-scenes efforts are palpably cynical and not above board. Opposition by top-tier GOP presidential candidates to legislation that Jeb Bush has publically and privately advocated for is push-back of significant proportions.

  2. Grumpyelder says:

    Far as I know all the non establishment contenders, Cain, Bachmann, Paul and Perry are opposed to RTTT and a couple of them would close down the DofEd given the chance.

    I don’t believe Santorum, Huntsman or Pawlenty will survive today

    Romney has said he opposed it… but he’ll do whatever the establishment wants, as will Gingrich

  3. Sandra says:

    Crist was pilloried for accepting stimulus cash, but the drumbeat was LOUD to go after the RT3 monies. Jeb hammered at Crist for accepting the stimulus, hammered at him for vetoing SB6, Crist brought home the RT3 bacon, and Scott signed the dotted line. What a bunch of hypocrites. We will have to watch how the dynamics unfold.

  4. Bryan Bouton says:

    It’s not an anti-RTTT or anti-NCLB sentiment…it HAS to be the agreement that government does belong in some areas: the responsibility of educating the people falls to the government and the candidate that recognizes that fact and pushes to have the government accept it’s responsibility will be the one that gets my vote. I may be naive, but I will stand on my conservative beliefs that government doesn’t belong in many of the areas in which it resides but it does have a strong role to play in funding (and, yes, reforming…not privatizing) education.

    • Bob Sikes says:

      We agree Bryan. NCLB/RTTT are the instruments of federal control and schools have thrived from local control. The vast majority of so-called “failing schools” are in urban areas where poverty and ESOL students are the primary populations.

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