Bobby Jindal and Jan Brewer: Triumph and Tragedy in Education Reform
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has just accomplished something tremendous, though you wouldn't know it given the silence of the national media. Late last week, both houses of the Louisiana Legislature passed Jindal's proposed overhaul of public education in the Pelican State, which included instituting a form of merit pay, weakening tenure, devolving personnel decisions to superintendents, and expanding charter schools and voucher programs. It's not an exaggeration to say that Jindal's reforms to education in Louisiana are nearly as significant as Scott Walker's to public employment in Wisconsin (also like Walker: Jindal already has unions agitating for a recall election).
Alas, while Jindal was putting his career on the line for a worthwhile cause, his fellow Republican governor, Jan Brewer, was able to find no such resolve. From Education Week:
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed legislation that would have allowed a major expansion of school vouchers in her state, citing concerns about its costs and "artificially manipulating" the market of public and private schools.
Arizona currently allows families of children with disabilities to use accounts of public money to cover private school tuition and other costs. The legislation would have expanded the program to a broader student population, by making students in struggling schools—specifically rated "D" or "F" schools—eligible for taxpayer funds.
... Brewer, while describing herself as a long-time advocate of school choice—citing other legislation she has signed promoting educational competition—also said "there is a careful balance we have to maintain."
"We must enhance educational options wherever we can, but we must also ensure that government is not artificially manipulating the market through state budget or tax policy that would make an otherwise viable option so unattractive that it undermines rational choice in a competitive market," the governor explained.
I've read the above passage from Governor Brewer at least ten times. To the extent I find it intelligible (which is middling), it resembles the psuedo-market language typically employed by the left. In the elliptical veto message (links to a PDF), Brewer does seem to have some legitimate budget concerns, but they appear to be over one-time implementation costs. That seems to me a burden worth bearing for fundamentally reforming a system that traps students in failing schools. But perhaps I'm missing something. Can any of our Arizona members shine some light on the governor's opaque reasoning?