I won’t mince words. I think that the Tea Party is, in essence, David Duke’s KKK reborn. It’s anti-intellectual, sexist, xenophobic, and racist. It’s the ugliest side of U.S. culture and politics, and it could only have arisen to such prominence because of profound American paranoia about the decline of white patriarchal culture. All that said, it’s hard to figure out if they are going to have any impact on education. There’s an interesting pair of articles in the Washington Post (here and here) that illustrates the dilemma nicely.
I think that the future of education is very much up in the air, not least because the Obama administration has long embraced a very conservative agenda rooted in a reactionary Cerberusian program: a desire to break the teachers’ unions, to force pedagogy into the narrow box of the standardized test, and to privatize huge swaths of the public education system. If this were simply a matter of the Republicans gaining power, then the old No Child Left coalition would simply keep thing going in the same direction they’ve been going.
The Tea Party, though, is a wild card. To start, at least in theory they are against any federal intervention in the public school system. Will they vote for an expensive program like “Race to the Top“? They are also in favor of cuts in government programs in general, which is likely going to lead to mass lay offs, particularly in education. They want tax cuts, even for the very wealthy, which could lead to calls for more program cuts and more lay offs. It’s a recipe for disaster for conservatives. Republicans have got some thinking to do.