Republicans and Teachers Unions

Jonathan Chait:

In 2010, Diane Ravitch, an activist for the most militantly anti-reform wing of the teachers-union movement, wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed proposing that Republicans use their newfound control of the House of Representatives to roll back the Obama administration’s education reforms. Since then, the union backlash against the Obama administration’s agenda has gained force. Yesterday, it manifested itself in a Senate vote in which Republicans and the unions worked in more open cooperation – against the Obama administration and civil-rights groups allied with it – than at any time in the past.

You should read Libby Nelson’s terrific explanation of the dynamics behind the vote. The gist of the alliance is that both the Republicans and the unions want to reduce the federal government’s ability to direct the course of education policy. Nelson detected an interesting rhetorical confluence:

Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who now leads the Senate education committee, has a favorite epithet for how Duncan has used his power. Alexander is fond of saying that Duncan created a “national school board.”
Eskelen García echoed Alexander, hardly an ideological ally, in a Thursday interview. “Nobody elected the education secretary to be the national superintendent of schools or the national school board,” she said.