Magazine February 8, 2010, Issue

Balancing Act

George W. Bush and Rick Perry at a campaign rally in Dallas, Tex., November 6, 2006 (Jason Reed/Reuters)
Conservatives weigh means against ends as liberal opinion-makers embrace teacher accountability and school choice

The Obama administration’s signature education initiative, Race to the Top, has produced genuine headline news: The Democrats, usually seen kowtowing to organized labor’s demands, for once are standing up to a powerful union constituency. The Race to the Top grant competition would remunerate states for using students’ test scores in teacher evaluations, a practice the teachers unions have fought for years. A number of conservative reformers are backing the measure, but Texas governor Rick Perry, a Republican, recently an­nounced that his state would not participate in Race to the Top. What’s the catch?

The situation is reminiscent of another time Democrats

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