Get Your Government Hands Off My School District

gov off

Sorry for the over the top title of this post, but you might recall the Tea Party protestor who launched the rally cry: “keep you government hands off my medicare.

The irony here, of course, is that medicare is a government program.

Recently, I was reading about the eight states where charter schools remain illegal.

They are: Alabama, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Interestingly enough, at every political map I looked at, each one of these states except for Vermont (blue) and West Virginia (purple leaning red) was tagged as a red state.

So what’s going on here? Why are red states protecting government monopolies?

Well, first of all, we might want to revise the conventional wisdom that republicans support charter schools while the democratic party is split on the issue.

Republicans seems split on the issue too.

Second, this seems to re-enforce the adage that politics is about identity not about policy. Many republicans have two identities: a national identity based on more abstract principles (freedom, markets, etc.), and a local identity based on real relationships. On certain issues, the local identity (I like my child’s teachers) will trump the national identity (government monopolies are terrible).

Third, no politician is immune to politics. Schools boards and superintendents are often very powerful political actors, especially in smaller towns, where the school district can often be the largest employer. So it’s not surprising to me that many of the holdout states have large rural populations.

I don’t really have much more to say on the issue. I just saw the state list and found it interesting.

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