Accountability Opinion

The Obama Agenda is the GOP Agenda

By Diane Ravitch — June 16, 2009 1 min read
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Dear Deborah,

If you recall, I took some heat from readers when I said some while back that the Obama administration was adopting the same policies as the Bush administration and that Arne Duncan sounds amazingly like Margaret Spellings on issues like accountability and choice.

I just read a fascinating description of “Obama’s Bipartisan Triumphs” by Matt Miller, who is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, one of those Beltway think tanks that sets the tone for federal policy. CAP is especially important because its director John Podesta ran the Obama transition.

Miller writes: “In Republicans’ eyes, Obama sinned by not fighting to renew the Washington, D.C., voucher program that provided a lifeline to a few thousand desperate families. But the rest of his school agenda hits every Republican erogenous zone. The president is pushing charter schools, higher standards, differential teacher pay, alternative teacher certification, and even tenure reform in ways far beyond anything any president has attempted before. What’s more, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s savvy management of the administration’s union ties, Obama has a chance to make more Nixon-to-China progress on ideas conservatives have long urged than has ever been possible.”

Miller confirms what I earlier spotted: The Obama agenda is the Republican agenda with a smile and $100 billion in stimulus dollars to encourage districts and states to adopt conservative reforms. I recall back in the 1980s and 1990s, during the Reagan and Bush years, when Republicans wanted choice and accountability, and Democrats fought back with their own ideas. Now Democrats, with an overwhelming edge in Congress, have Republican ideas.

What happened?


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