Blog: The Educated Reporter

Wrap Up of Education Election News and Opinion

Education ballot measures pushed back against reform-styled initiatives in several states, while voters in California, New Mexico, New Jersey and elsewhere backed tax increases and bond measures to fund public education on the K-12 and post-secondary level. Meanwhile, Dr. Tony Bennett, one of the most active state education leaders who sought to improve assessments, curtail union power and expand school choice, lost his post to an outspent librarian who proved popular among teachers.In the state of Washington, charter schools may soon make their debut after voters seemingly approved ballot item I-1240–though a final tally has not been announced. 

View this package of stories and summaries to get a lay of the educational land following November’s elections.  

A not-so-great night for education reform, says Fordham Institute: Indiana state superintendent of public instruction Dr. Tony Bennett lost his seat to a union-backed candidate. What does this mean for the state’s voucher program and other education initiatives that had supporters of collective bargaining seeing red?

Also, charter schools may be coming to Washington. The Pacific Northwest state witnessed a slew of billionaires back I-1240, spending around $11 billion while opponents of the charter school referendum ponied up roughly $1 million. Projections suggest the initiative will pass, but a final tally has not been announced.

Small state teacher union groups flexed their muscles, overturning reform-style initiatives in Idaho and South Dakota. The gem state saw all three laws triumphed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna overturned. Opponents outspent the “Luna Laws” $3.6 million to $2.8 million, based on the latest state filings. The three laws—which were approved by the Legislature in 2011—were the following, per Boise Weekly:

No. 1, which limited teachers’ bargaining rights; No. 2, which instituted new bonus structures for educators, and No. 3, which would have required putting laptops in the hands of more Gem State students.

Read up on the other ballot initiatives Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute says were a disappointment to the reform camp.

Valerie Strauss at Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet has a summary of other important education-related items on state and local ballots.

In California, schools and its two public university systems were spared additional budget cuts after Proposition 30 passed. Gov. Jerry Brown stated the new revenues drawn from Prop. 30 could mean the state will have a balanced budget for the first time since 1998. The just-passed referendum raises the sales tax by a quarter cent for four years and imposes tax increases on incomes above $250,000 that range from 10.3 to 13.3 percent over the course of seven years. The tax increases will apply retroactively to incomes earned in 2012.

A rival ballot measure, Proposition 38, that would have funded schools directly and bypass the state legislature failed in yesterday’s election.

At The Hechinger Report, Sarah Butrymowicz lays out the education scene nationally and what’s in the cards for Congress and the White House. Reauthorizing No Child Left Behind and a push to expand early education and college access are mentioned in her piece.   

Also, Five Issues Facing Arne Duncan in a Second Term: Waivers, Race to the Top, NCLB, Fiscal Issues, Common Core—those are the big ticket items the Sec. of State has to contend with, writes Michele McNeil of Education Week.

Dream Act Passes in Maryland: ‘Maryland’s Dream Act, originally passed by the state legislature in March, will stand, as voters passed the measure Tuesday, 58 to 42 percent. Under the Dream Act, students without legal documentation to live in the United State can be eligible to receive in-county tuition at Maryland community colleges and in-state rates at public universities.” (Alexandra Tilsley, Inside Higher Ed)

With Obama’s Win, Colleges Anticipate 4 More Years of Reform: “The Obama administration over the past four years ‘sharply expanded the federal government’s role in overseeing colleges and universities, often with no evidence that there was a serious problem that needed regulation,’ said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education. He cited as examples some of the Education Department’s regulations on gainful employment, state authorization of online programs, and academic issues like the definition of a credit hour.” (Michael Stratford, The Chronicle of Higher Education)

A Good Night for Facilities: “Voters in New Jersey and a number of community college districts on Tuesday approved bond referendums that will provide millions of dollars for facilities on many campuses.” Houston, California, and North Carolina also had bond measures approved, while similar efforts in Michigan failed to win public support. (Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed)

Obama’s Victory Spells Continued Scrutiny for For-Profit Colleges: “That focus will begin, many say, with a push to resuscitate the gainful-employment regulation, a Department of Education proposal strongly opposed by for-profit colleges. And according to one community-college leader, in its new incarnation, the regulation might come back to life “in a broader form,” with portions of it applying more widely at nonprofit colleges as well. The original regulation was largely vacated by a federal judge last summer after it was challenged in court by the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the main trade group of for-profit colleges.” (Goldie Blumenstyk, The Chronicle of Higher Education)

In New Mexico, Higher Education, Library Bonds Pass: “New Mexicans on Tuesday approved the $119.4 million universities and colleges say they so desperately need to renovate their buildings, according to county data.” (Astrid Galvan, Albuquerque)