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What We Learned About School Reform in 2012

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Teachers unions remain the Goliath to the school reformers’ David, even in red states. That was the lesson from votes last week in Idaho and Indiana, where unions successfully took on or took out Republican school superintendents.

In Idaho, three laws associated with Tom Luna, the state superintendent of public instruction, were repealed by referendum, turning back the clock on efforts to phase out teacher tenure, to link pay increases to performance and to expand online learning. Luna’s counterpart in Indiana, Tony Bennett, often called the darling of the national education-reform movement, was fired from his job, despite outspending his little-known, though union-backed, opponent by 4-to-1. Bennett had been an aggressive advocate of vouchers and charter schools, and had called for stronger state control of struggling schools.