By Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli
Reasons for Cheer
1. In a year when the Democratic nominee was practically guaranteed to win the White House, the most reform-minded Democratic candidate won. While his education policies are inchoate and imperfect, Barack Obama's positions on charter schools, merit pay, and even No Child Left Behind point toward a thoughtfulness and willingness to buck the status quo that were strikingly different from the postures of his closest competitors.
2. Support from the teacher unions was not essential to Obama's sweeping victory and frees him--if he's so inclined--to advance policies and programs that they don't love, perhaps starting with charter schools (one of the few issues enjoying bipartisan support during this election).
3. As the first African-American president, Obama will be uniquely positioned to use his bully pulpit to exhort parents, particularly minority parents, to uphold their responsibilities to foster their children's moral and intellectual development. Done right, this could be a powerful complement to whatever formal policies he puts forward.
4. Republican Senators will maintain a hedge against Democrats' worst impulses, keeping as they did the potential for filibuster....