The National Education Association gave its annual “America’s Greatest Education Governor Award” this year to Maryland’s Martin O’Malley.
As governor, he’s overseen record increases in K-12 education spending, the provision of school-construction funds, and the creation of an independent labor board to handle bargaining disputes, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said during his introduction. (Formerly, such disputes were resolved by the State Board of Education.)
O’Malley’s speech mostly reiterated those accomplishments. But it also contained a few interesting tidbits, and omissions:
• He took a swipe at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s had an acrimonious relationship with the NEA’s state affiliate there. “Just ask our friends in New Jersey how much difference an education governor can make,” O’Malley said.
• He said that he, and apparently some other Democratic governors, like Ted Strickland of Ohio, have written to President Obama in support of the edujobs bill. An interesting move, since the president has threatened to veto the bill if it takes money from the Race to the Top and other reform programs to cover the cost, as the House-passed version would.
• He helped advance the legislation that created the new labor board, an endeavor apparently 20 years in the making. One of the members on this new body? None other than Bob Chanin, the union’s beloved former general counsel.
• There was no mention of O’Malley’s support for his state’s Race to the Top bid, or his signature on a bill that moved the tenure-granting bar from two to three years. Both were opposed by the state NEA affiliate.
O’Malley got a standing ovation from delegates, and Van Roekel summed up: “Now if we had 50 of those, what a different world it would be.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.