Third, a fascinating twist to all of this may be that Rhee's defeat--and the defeat of three like-minded reformers running for the New York legislature--may start to convince a larger number of would-be reformers that no one can really change dysfunctional school systems as they exist. They may figure, "If Rhee couldn't do it, we need a whole new playbook." This will ramp up efforts by outfits like ConnCAN to get serious about the political ground game. With any luck, it may also start to wean more than a few would-be reformers from their affection for weak brews like mayoral control and merit pay and towards more muscular efforts to dismantle, rethink, or bypass familiar schools and systems.
Indeed. mayoral control and merit pay are stupid, half-assed strategies that won't work, and I've always thought this was transparently obvious. I agree that the interpretation of the setbacks for mayoral control and the inevitable disappointments of merit pay and other lame aspects of these reform plans will be to drive reformers even more to push outside the traditional public school system, just like Gates' failures in small school reform within districts didn't humble them, but just drove them to charters and national policy.