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Republican governors are behind some of the most aggressive changes in education policy today

Excerpts from an Associated Press report:

Republican governors are unabashedly behind some of the most aggressive changes in education policy today, from Indiana to Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott successfully pushed law changes to establish merit pay and eliminate tenure protections for new teachers, to Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker seeks statewide screening of incoming kindergartners and requirements that elementary school teachers take a more rigorous licensing exam.

While Obama doesn’t agree with all these actions, he and the governors have found common ground in a number of areas, including teacher evaluation systems with consequences, merit pay for teachers, holding teachers and schools more accountable for how much students learn, and charter schools, which are public schools run by an independent third party…

For Republican governors, there are no worries about political allegiances to powerful teachers’ unions whose members historically contribute to and volunteer heavily for Democrats’ campaigns. In fact, many of their efforts have led to strong clashes with unions. Both New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie and Jindal, for example, at times have called on a teachers’ union president in their home state to resign because of comments the union president made…

One of the major areas of disagreement between Obama and the GOP governors is on the use of taxpayer-funded vouchers for private school. Many Democrats believe vouchers chip away at dollars critical to public schools, and the Obama administration opposes them.

Jindal, who is pushing for a new voucher program in his home state, said in a phone interview that while he supports many of Obama’s education efforts, he does “strongly” disagree with the administration’s position on vouchers. “As long as there are children trapped in failing schools, we need to provide parents with more choices and ensure them more opportunities,” he said…

The drive by the governors is accelerated by several factors, including a growing body of evidence that many students simply aren’t learning and that effective teachers can dramatically alter students’ lifetime earnings, as well as the push in this tough fiscal environment to ensure all dollars are spent wisely. The bottom line, said Scott, is that there’s a “direct tie between education and jobs.”


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