(Guest post by Greg Forster)
Back in October, I gritted my teeth and, against my inclinations, pointed out that as governor, Sarah Palin cozied up to the teachers’ unions and loved to brag about how much money she threw at schools. Never mind that the schools never got better; it played well to the media, and even more to the great “mushy middle” (in Charles Krauthammer’s wonderful phrase) that likes to make public policy based on what feels good, not on what gets results.
Then she endorsed vouchers and directly promised to push for a specified voucher plan if elected, which of course was big news. Vouchers have consistently produced academic gains whenever they’ve been tried and scientifically evaluated, and are by far the most promising reform for improving education for all students, as everyone who cares to know already knows. I tried to do justice to both sides of the story by noting that both Palin and Obama were trying to have it both ways on education.
Now she’s going back to her roots. She’s not for the stimulus, and she’s not against it (UPDATE: oops, see below). Her only position on the stimulus is that the bill doesn’t throw enough money at Alaska, and specifically that “the stimulus package rewards states for not planning when it comes to prioritizing for things like education, as Alaska has planned ahead by forward-funding 21 percent of our General Fund dollars for this very important priority. It appears only those states that did not plan ahead with education will benefit. States like Alaska should not be punished for being responsible; yet that’s what the plan means for Alaska right now” (HT Jim Geraghty).
Meanwhile, as Alaska faces a billion-dollar shortfall, she’s pushing to build a road to Nome that will cost up to $2 billion. I’m sure that has nothing to do with a desire to have “shovel ready” projects at hand, ready to shovel into the maw of the federal “stimulus” sugar daddy.
National Review‘s Greg Pollowitz was the first to dub it the “road to Nome-where.”
I hate being the designated Palin critic of the education reform movement. When I’m with my education reform comrades, I’m usually the only Republican in the room. And I’m much more Sarah Palin’s kind of Republican than, say, Mitt Romney’s, much less John McCain’s. But somebody’s got to point this stuff out.
Does anybody want to take over the job?
UPDATE: I wanted to check on this before posting it. I’ve confirmed that, in addition to usually being the only Republican in the room when I’m working on education reform, I’m also the only Republican on this blog. (Matt specifically requested that I describe him as a “disgusted former Republican.” Duly noted.)
UPDATE to the UPDATE: Wouldn’t you know it? She just put out a statement saying she agrees with the decision of Alaska’s Senators to vote “no” on the stimulus. I saw it just two hours after I posted this. But she adds that a stimulus “is needed” and plumps again for mo money, mo money, mo money!