Gov. Rick Scott, taking part in a hurricane exercise on May 23 (Pic via flgov.com)
Gov. Rick Scott, taking part in a hurricane exercise on May 23 (Pic via flgov.com)

Education Week: Approval ratings drop for governors who pushed education overhauls

By | 06.07.11 | 12:53 pm

According to Education Week analysis, governors who pushed for education overhaul — such as Florida’s Rick Scott — have seen their approval ratings drop.

Education Week is published by Editorial Projects in Education, a nonprofit that also publishes other print and online products on K-12 education. The outlet reported Monday:

A number of newly elected Republican governors in political battleground states who have pushed sweeping, controversial changes in education policy into law have seen their approval ratings slide since taking office.

Those governors’ standing could affect not only their political futures, but also who wins the 2012 presidential election, if Democrat Barack Obama chooses to run against the agendas put forward by state leaders and contrast them with his own.

Education Week cites data from several polls that show Gov. Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and Gov. John Kasich (Ohio), who backed the passage of laws that greatly reduced teachers’ and other workers’ collective bargaining powers face low approval ratings. It also cites a Quinnipiac University poll that indicates that in late May, 57 percent of voters disapproved of Scott’s record.

The publication adds that “some teachers and union members have been critical of Obama’s education policies, complaining they reflect a willingness to scapegoat teachers for schools’ shortcomings,” but:

The policies of Walker, Kasich, and Scott appear to have galvanized teachers’ unions. And the Obama administration may have helped its standing with organized labor by coming out against Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law and policies like it, and urging public officials to forge deals cooperatively with unions.

Education Week indicates that, “in some cases it’s hard to tell the degree to which the GOP officials’ political struggles can be tied to education policy,” and between now and November 2012, governors “will have a lot more time to sell their budgetary policies and collective bargaining curbs to the public.”

In late May, Scott signed a budget that includes $1.35 billion in cuts in classroom funding in the state’s 67 public school districts. Florida will spend $6,269 per pupil next school year, the lowest amount it has approved in five years.

Scott also signed into law Senate Bill 736, that will require future changes in teacher pay (.pdf) to be based on student performance.

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