Last fall’s infamous rift in the Democratic Party is back. No, not that rift and those electoral politics; we’re talking about education, of course (this not being the Health Care Gadfly), and specifically, the upcoming local voting cycle. The election of President Obama revealed a growing disagreement between the old-school Democratic Party establishment, a.k.a. the teachers’ unions, and the new-school reformers, who support charters and merit pay, amongst other things. Obama straddled this divide by picking conciliatory candidate Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and using stimulus cash to, once again, clothe the bitter reform pill with a sugary green glaze. But a year later, we come face-to-face with November 2009. Take the upcoming school board election in Cincinnati, Ohio, for example, where four seats (one open, three incumbents) of a completely Democratic seven-member board are up for a heated contest. Of the three incumbents, the Dems have endorsed only one, opting instead to back three fresh faces for the other three open seats. Since they control the board already, the Party is instead looking for more loyal members to sit upon it--specifically candidates who support labor. (The other two incumbents have voted more independently--of teachers’ union interests in particular--in recent years. This surely isn’t a highest stakes story--or election--but it is a microcosmic example of a greater schism the Donkeys will have to deal with someday--probably sooner rather than later.
"School board race highlights rift," by Ben Fischer, The Cincinnati Enquirer, September 27, 2009