In New York, Democrat Andrew Cuomo is running away with the governor’s race. But he’s also running away from one of his party’s staunchest supporters: teacher unions.
The incumbent governor is up more than 20 points in the latest RealClearPolitics poll of polls. With this election all but in hand, he seems to be preparing for a presidential run in 2016 by pointing out the obvious: Our country’s education system is broken, and unions are the problem.
“Our education system is a public monopoly where the paradigm is the more money you spend, the better you will do,” Cuomo tells reporters. “You want more education for the student? Fund the bureaucracy with more money. That’s how we’ve been operating for years.”
That’s been good for unions, bad for parents and children. Still, Cuomo’s sensible talk is only possible because he’s got a big lead. Struggling Democrats are sticking with their traditional approach: accuse Republicans of cutting education spending.
Witness troubled Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina. In a recent debate, she claimed her Republican opponent, Thom Tillis, Speaker of the state House, “has cut $500 million from public education and, you know what that means folks? That means fewer teachers in the classroom. That means larger classroom sizes and that means outdated textbooks if there’s any textbooks at all.”
That’s not true, as even the heavily biased PolitiFact admitted. North Carolina’s education budget, “has increased every year since Tillis became speaker in 2011,” it reports. But this is how the education spending game is normally played.
So is Cuomo really becoming a free-marketer? Not likely. He’s probably just tacking to the right a bit, the way Bill Clinton occasionally did in the early 1990s when he wanted to make his liberal opinions seem less extreme. Only time will tell.