POLITICS
09/15/2010 09:15 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Pawlenty Uses Fenty's Defeat To Take The Hammer To Teachers Unions

Using a local hook to show off his conservative bonafides, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty offered a searing criticism of teachers unions on Wednesday morning for helping defeat Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty in last night's primary.

"Public schools are failing too many children across the country, but arguably nowhere worse than in our nation's capital," Pawlenty's statement read. "Using education reforms similar to what I've fought for in Minnesota, Mayor Fenty and his chancellor of schools, Michelle Rhee, began to turn their schools around, dramatically improving test scores in the last few years. Their work is an inspiration to me and school reformers across the nation."

"Mayor Fenty lost after the teachers' unions led a campaign against him and Michelle Rhee. Fenty's loss is further evidence that despite all their rhetoric about 'the children,' what the teachers' unions really care about is getting more money for jobs they can't lose at schools that produce students who are not prepared to compete.

"While the primary's result is disappointing for school reformers, the positive early results from the Fenty-Rhee reforms will continue to undermine the teachers' unions' false arguments against reform everywhere."

A likely presidential candidate in 2012, Pawlenty has proven to be quite adept at finding the epicenter of the spotlight of hot-button policy debates.

His executive order forbidding Minnesota from applying for certain portions of federal health care funds was hailed as a politically crafty if not legislatively irresponsible sop to the base. His attack on teacher unions -- which were backed with money and manpower Fenty's challenger, Vincent Gray -- will, likewise, sit well with the growing number of voters (Republicans and Democrats alike) who view those unions as the main source of ill for the nation's education system.