Obama Quits School Reform Talk on Trail

Senator may be caving to old guard where he'd been breath of fresh air
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2008 6:29 PM CDT
Barack Obama at an elementary school in New Orleans   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama has been backing off post-partisan rhetoric on education, looking more like a stick-in-the-mud Democratic regular on schools and less like the reformer who supported test-based accountability and performance pay for teachers. The Chicagoan had bucked teachers' unions and other stodgy liberals, supporting charter schools in Illinois and mentorship programs in Washington, Josh Patashnik writes in the New Republic.

But a campaign-hardened Obama is sounding more like a traditional lefty, waffling when the issues get tough and even employing an advisor who has worked to kill the avant-garde Teach for America (which subverts certification standards cherished by unions). Patashnik reminds Obama that the tough positions might be easier to take politically: Union strength has waned and Democratic think tanks are wising up.