The failed multimillion dollar campaign to boot Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from office is on its way to Idaho. We don’t know what form it will take, but you can imagine that some of the messages tried in Wisconsin will also be attempted here, all in an effort to return Idaho’s education system to a status quo that empowers labor unions and puts their interests ahead of schoolchildren.
The labor unions don’t like that Idaho’s education reforms are allowing excellent teachers to be recognized and rewarded for their great work, are creating heightened transparency in the union negotiation process, have restored the power of elected school boards and now provide a means for school districts and their students to take advantage of technological innovation.
Opponents, chiefly the Idaho Education Association, want things returned to the way they used to be, and they’re determined to get Idaho voters to reject three measures that will be on the November ballot.
Unfortunately for Idaho’s education reform opponents, but fortunately for Idaho students and their parents, the messages in Wisconsin fell flat. TV ads meant to invoke voter anger didn’t deliver.
My favorite TV ad features a series of protagonists charging that Gov. Walker has destroyed Wisconsin’s public education system: “Scott Walker,” the ad begins, “you can’t improve our schools when you cut $800 million from education, increase classes sizes (with) 3,000 fewer educators in our state.”
Wisconsin voters, like those in Idaho, are smarter than that.
Here’s the message from another TV campaign: “Governor Walker’s counted you out … He destroyed workers’ rights, then Wisconsin jobs. Now, if you’re not earning equal pay for equal work, it’s harder to fight back.”
Still another: “In Wisconsin, we have a tradition of working together, but Scott Walker ignored that by eliminating collective bargaining, taking away 50 years of workers’ rights.”
One ad tried a mash-up between Walker’s administration and that of President Nixon’s during Watergate scandal. “What did Scott Walker know and when did he know it?” MSNBC commentator Ed Schultz asks in an ad that draws on black and white news clips featuring Walter Cronkite.
The McClatchy-Tribune News Service says some $80 million was spent on the recall election, more than double previous records for that state. And despite all of that money and all of that messaging, the campaign to undo Walker’s reforms fell short.
In the months leading up to the November election in Idaho, education reform opponents will hurl all sorts of interesting allegations regarding education reform, all in an attempt to retain power at the expense of student achievement.
It’s important to remember why education reform is important: Idaho’s schoolchildren deserve the very best education system we can offer. They deserve a system that puts the interest of students first, which means the retention of the best teachers, the best technology and empowered, accountable school boards.
Today, because of education reform, parents can be assured that in Idaho’s school system, the students come first. Students can be assured that they’ll be using 21st Century technology and innovative learning methods.
Teachers can be assured they’ll be rewarded for hard work. Taxpayers can be assured they’re getting the best bang for their buck.
And if voters heed Wisconsin’s lead and uphold Idaho education reforms with three yes votes, it will continue to stay that way.