Here's an interesting AP story about ISTA helping GOP gubernatorial hopeful Jim Wallace get enough signatures to make the May primary ballot.
It's a surprise because the state's largest teachers union has historically supported Democrats, at least financially.
"ISTA lobbyist Nancy Pappas, who collected the signatures Tuesday, said the action shouldn't be viewed as an indication of support for Wallace but denied it was an effort to complicate (Mike) Pence's run," writes the AP's Tom Lobianco.
" 'You can't read anything into it,' Pappas said, adding that the ISTA has occasionally supported Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and former state schools Superintendent Suellen Reed."
Some seem to be suggesting that the union is making mischief for GOP favorite Mike Pence, but I wouldn't be surprised if, in part, ISTA isn't hoping to send a message to Democratic hopeful John Gregg. He seems to have aligned himself with Democrats for Education Reform, a group that some educators believe is too cozy with corporate interests seeking to make a profit through privatization of public education. Gregg was last month named DFER's Reformer of the Month.
One reason Democrat Jill Long's 2008 campaign never took off was because she didn't give public school teachers a reason to go out and work for her election. Gregg will repeat Long's mistake if he turns a deaf ear to the Indiana employees most affected by the current administration's policies.
And don't discount Republican Jim Wallace's appeal to public school teachers. The West Point grad and former Army helicopter pilot seems to have made some effort to reach out to them. On his campaign website, Wallace emphasizes local control for schools and discounts one-size-fits-all solutions. At the same time, social network site postings suggest a tremendous distrust among teachers for Pence.
Finally, Indiana's public school teachers have been moving to the right along with the rest of the state. I would go so far as to say that most are reliable Republican voters. Former ISTA deputy director and lobbyist Dan Clark went to work in the Republican administration, overseeing the governor's Education Roundtable.
While many educators see state Superintendent Tony Bennett as the source of their professional discontent, few seem to see the connection between Bennett, Gov. Mitch Daniels and the legislative tsunami that is battering public education in Indiana.
In other words, union – and more important, teacher – support for the Democratic candidate for governor isn't a given. If Republican Jim Wallace has the right message and can engage public school teachers, he'll get more than signatures from them.