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Unlikely Allies Uniting to Fight School Changes

With tensions running high over issues surrounding academic benchmarks, standardized testing and performance evaluations for educators, unlikely coalitions of teachers, lawmakers and parents from the left and right are increasingly banding together to push back against what they see as onerous changes in education policy. Some have Tea Party Republicans and teachers unions on the same side.

In Oklahoma, teachers unions gave strong support to a bill, sponsored by Republicans, that would overturn a law requiring third graders to be held back simply on the basis of the results of one standardized test. (Last week, that coalition helped the Legislature overturn Gov. Mary Fallin’s veto.)

In New Jersey, a bill that would slow down the introduction of the Common Core education standards and the use of test scores in teacher evaluations passed the Assembly Education Committee with rare unanimous support. And in New York, grass-roots opposition on the left and the right to testing and the Common Core, a set of national reading and math standards for elementary, middle and high school students that have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, led legislators to delay the consequences of standardized tests for students last month.

“The major narrative right now for people working in American politics and public policy is hyper partisanship,” said Patrick McGuinn, an associate professor of political science at Drew University. With education, he said, “the coalitions are much more complicated.”