People of all political persuasions all over the world have reason to mourn Senator Richard Lugar’s loss to a Tea-Party candidate in the recent Indiana Republican primary. Senator Lugar is the ranking minority member on the Foreign Relations Committee, where he has long put principle and practicality above partisanship. Yet his defeat matters in education, too.
Even though Senator Lugar has never served on an education committee, he has always been interested in education. Before he was elected to the Senate, he was Mayor of Indianapolis and before that, Chairman of the Indianapolis School Board. But beyond this history, I think he just cares about the future of our country, and sees education as central to that vision.
Based on a long-ago article in The Wall Street Journal, Senator Lugar got interested in our Success for All program, and we visited an SFA school near Indianapolis together. From then on, he found many ways to support evidence-based reform in education broadly. In doing this, he routinely collaborated with Democrats. His guiding principle was always, “what’s good for the children” and “what’s good for the country.” What is so disturbing is that his defeat in the primary was largely due to his commitment to bipartisan solutions to national problems.
Evidence-based reform is not a Democratic or Republican issue, and there are many from both parties who support it. For it to prevail, however, our political leaders will have to feel able to be seen in public hand in hand with their colleagues across the aisle. The defeat of Senator Lugar, a model of pragmatic leadership, is a great loss to the Senate and to the idea that in education legislation, children must come first.
Editor’s Note: Robert Slavin is Chairman of the Board of the Success for All Foundation
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