Progressives are more prepared now than in 2008 to push Obama and congress from the left. We're a heck of a lot more on alert to resist Democratic attacks on public education and support for the privatization agenda. The unions aren't even fully mobilized, but we're not completely on our heels.
After the past four years, a mixed bag of tactical wins and losses adds up to a limited strategic victory. If a year ago the tanks were rolling unopposed toward your capital, counterattacking them to a standstill is a victory.
Pouring outside money into local elections will produce some wins for privatization, but in the long term it kills the pretense that this is about anything other than concentrating power in the hands of the wealthy. I think the "parent trigger" is the only thing they can think of to counter that, but that approach just isn't going to work.
We're walking back from a freakish event where Republicans, independents, and about 2/3rds of the Democratic party suddenly decided to beat up on teachers and urban schools. We don't need to win this back from the center. Roll it back from the left, survive the current reforms running their course to no good effect, reassemble the traditional constituency for public education.
More than any election I can remember, the Democrats won by being Democrats. Nobody thinks today that the Democratic party can only win by tricking people in to thinking they're Republicans. We just need to apply that to education (and a few other things).