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Conservatives Abandon Education Reform

If you haven't already, definitely read Seyward Darby's piece about how Republican control of Congress would not help the prospects for education reform. The strongest part of her argument is simply that Republicans have succeeded by denying bipartisan support to President Obama, thereby making his legislative agenda partisan and difficult to enact. Furnishing him with a bipartisan achievement will only help him get reelected, so why do it, especially when your top priority is making him a one-term president?

I'd add that one more reason is that conservatives in general, and not just those involved in Republican electoral politics, have a weak interest in education reform as a policy issue. It has been a minor part of the conservative policy litany, but usually deployed as an accusation of hypocrisy -- see, you Democrats claim to care about the poor and oppose big interests, but here you are sucking up to teachers unions! Conservative interest in the issue, aside from the tiny handful of conservative education policy specialists, has largely dried up since Obama started taking on the teachers unions. (Except among those conservatives apparently unaware of his administration's policy agenda.) Right now they're mainly ignoring the issue. If it comes to the forefront, they'll increasingly adopt the once-dormant federalist argument against any national education policy, and forget their overriding horror at the power of unions.

Basically, my cynical view is that Obama's willingness to take on the teachers unions takes all the fun out of being in favor of education reform for conservatives. Instead you're just going to see a lot more of this kind of thing, from a garden variety anti-Obama screed by Fred Bauer:

This stimulus would also allow the federal government to funnel billions of dollars to various groups and, in return for that, put the yoke of expectations on these groups. Healthcare “reform” as originally envisioned by the administration would allow bureaucrats in Washington to run the whole of the nation’s health system, 17% of the national economy. Cap-and-trade would become a vehicle for federal intervention in every aspect of people’s private lives and commercial transactions. Education “reform” would allow Washington and its bureaucratic corps more and more to shape the minds of later generations.

Thus education reform become, in the right-wing mind, just another element of Obama's far left agenda.