Unions lose big — except for California

Reformer Marshall Tuck failed to unseat California’s union-backed state superintendent, Tom Torlakson. The final vote in the expensive race was 52 to 48 percent.

However, that was one of the few bright spots for teachers’ unions and anti-reformers in yesterday’s election.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the unions, writes RiShawn Biddle on Dropout Nation.

Governors “who aggressively undertake systemic reform (and smartly challenge NEA and AFT affiliates)” were big winners, he writes.

“Younger, reform-minded teachers who make up the majority of rank-and-file members” are less loyal to the unions, Biddle argues. “This has been made clear in Wisconsin, where the NEA and AFT affiliates are merging after losing, respectively, one-third and 63 percent of membership after Walker successfully ended compulsory dues collections.”

Republican governors’ victories portend “good things for charter schools, possible new efforts to launch or expand voucher programs, and challenging times ahead for teacher unions,” writes Rick Hess.

Governors Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Rick Snyder claimed surprisingly comfortable victories in the industrial Midwest. Meanwhile, “reform-minded” Republicans claimed the governorships in deep-blue Massachusetts, Maryland, and Illinois.

. . . Rhode Island Democrat Gina Raimondo, who’d infuriated the unions by pushing for pension reform as state treasurer, claimed the governor’s mansion. And Thom Tillis, who’d earned bitter union enmity for his role in the North Carolina legislature, eked past Kay Hagan to win a Senate seat.

Conservatives policy wonks will have a chance to influence federal higher education policy, Hess adds.

Most of the education action is in the states, points out Eduwonk. In addition to winning or holding statehouses, Republicans gained seats in state legislatures.

Democratic pension reformers and charter school supporters won in Rhode Island. Coupled with the Massachusetts governor’s race things could get interesting on charters in the northeast. But both those races involved issues beyond education.

Pre-k went down in Hawaii and Nevadans rejected an education tax ballot initiative. A Washington state initiative to cut class sizes — at a cost of $1 billion a year — remains too close to call. 

Real Clear Education has more.

Obama, Romney won’t talk about education

Two-thirds of voters in swing states said education is an “extremely important” election issue, but Obama and Romney aren’t talking about education’s hard questions, writes Andrew Rotherham in Time.

They aren’t even talking up their own successes. Why? Because education reform doesn’t fit well with the overall argument either candidate is making about why he should get to sit in the Oval Office next January.

Obama’s education policy alienates teachers’ unions, while Romney’s conservative base wants education policy to be set locally. Of course, everybody’s now in favor of keeping student loan interest rates low.