Campaigns & Elections

Overview

Campaigns & Elections

Thomas Jefferson, among others, is credited by historians with equating an educated populace with one that was prepared to participate and vote in a democracy. “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone,” he once wrote. “The people themselves are its only safe depositories. And to render them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree.”

So what role does the issue of education itself play in elections, from the White House to the local school board? The materials gathered in this Topics section tackle this question.

Thomas Jefferson, among others, is credited by historians with equating an educated populace with one that was prepared to participate and vote in a democracy. “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone,” he once wrote. “The people themselves are its only safe depositories. And to render them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree.”

So what role does the issue of education itself play in elections, from the White House to the local school board? The materials gathered in this Topics section tackle this question.

Presidential Politics

For the past quarter century, presidents have used the bully pulpit of the White House to address education. Presidential attention to the issue grew under George H.W. Bush, the first to declare himself “the education president”; the two-term tenure of Bill Clinton, who advanced the standards and accountability movement and promoted numerous education initiatives such as school uniforms; and George W. Bush, who brought Republicans and Democrats in Congress together behind a sweeping expansion of federal authority over education in the No Child Left Behind Act. President Barack Obama also actively engaged his administration in education reform via his Race to the Top initiative, emphasis on teacher effectiveness, college-ready standards, and charter schools, among other policy areas.

As the federal role in education has grown over the past half century, the topic has steadily grown more prominent as a campaign issue in presidential elections. For Jimmy Carter in 1976, that meant a promise to the teachers’ unions to establish a federal department of education, a pledge he turned lukewarm about while in office but ultimately fulfilled. For Ronald Reagan, battles revolved around dismantling the new federal department, attempts to enact private school vouchers, and rhetoric around school prayer. Paradoxically, for a president who sought to limit the growing federal role, Reagan helped usher in an era of greater standards and accountability with the commission that issued the report “A Nation at Risk,” which ultimately led to an even stronger federal role.

Yet from 1960 to 1984, education failed to make its way into the forefront of presidential debates, notes Jeffrey Henig, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. In a recent paper, Henig tracks the emphasis that presidents and other elected officials have placed on education over the past half century. He finds that education didn’t appear in the top 10 issues of concern to U.S. voters until 1988, when it ranked eighth; four years later, it had moved up to fifth.

In 2008, education was far from the most prominent presidential election issue, but Barack Obama and John McCain did offer competing visions. Obama emphasized proposals to increase early childhood education, recruit new teachers, and add new tax credits for college tuition. McCain stressed school choice, in the form of expanded opportunities for charter schools.

Brief dustups over relatively minor issues have sometimes pushed the candidates’ education platforms into the foreground. In 1988, George H.W. Bush criticized Democrat Michael Dukakis over his veto of a Massachusetts bill that would have required teachers to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. In 2008, McCain launched an attack ad against Obama claiming that the Democrat had supported comprehensive sex education for kindergartners as an Illinois lawmaker. The claim was inaccurate, independent analysts said, and the controversy quickly faded.

As the 2012 presidential election season neared, the journal Education Next and Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance surveyed Americans about the politics of education. The survey found that with the exception of the issues of school spending and teacher tenure, “the divisions between Democrats and Republicans on education policy matters are quite minor.”

“A clear plurality, even a majority, of the American public support a wide range of policy innovations ranging from charter schools and tax credits to tougher standards, accountability measures, and merit pay for teachers,” Education Next said. But, it went on, “pluralities and bare majorities are often not enough to alter public policy in a country where power is divided between two highly competitive and increasingly polarized political parties. If Republicans and Democrats disagree strongly on the options for school reform, changes are unlikely.”

Congressional Races

While education usually gets at least some attention in presidential campaigns, it tends to get less attention in federal legislative races, even though members of Congress play an important role in federal education policy.

At a forum on education and politics in early 2012 sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Katherine Haley, an aide to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), noted that the makeup of the House of Representatives has changed significantly since 2001, when the No Child Left Behind Act was passed. The addition of many tea party Republicans after the 2010 elections make the landscape for federal education policy difficult to predict, she said.

In a paper for an earlier American Enterprise Institute (AEI) forum, Charles Barone of Democrats for Education Reform and Elizabeth DeBray of the University of Georgia College of Education agree that many new Republicans want to see a smaller federal role in education. And greater partisanship and more cohesive party control on divisive issues mean it will be more difficult to win bipartisan agreement on federal education policy than in earlier eras.

“Partisanship and party polarization seem now to be at an all-time high,” the authors write. “This does not seem to bode well for a smooth or successful ESEA reauthorization,” they added, referring to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the current version of which is NCLB.

Still, says Haley, “Please don’t write off Congress” in the near term.

The States

The growth of the federal role in education sometimes obscures the fact that schooling in America is primarily a state function. Governors, state legislatures, state boards of education and  chief state school officers—such as commissioners or secretaries of education—all exert significant power and influence over how schools in a given state are organized and what they teach.

Governors, in particular, have their own bully pulpits at the state level, in addition to budget and policy agendas that almost always have significance for schools. And many analysts see the pendulum of influence over education policy swinging back from the federal government to the states, and their governors. “Governors have the biggest piece of the money, and they have stepped up their game” over the past three years, Peter Cunningham, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s chief spokesman, said at the AEI forum. “Governors are going to be in the driver’s seat, and that’s the way it should be.”

State lawmakers, especially those on education and budget committees, also play an influential role, of course. Post-election shifts in which party holds the reins of legislative power can trigger policy changes felt in districts and schools.
  
As for state boards of education, a mix of models complicates the picture. The National Association of State Boards of Education defines four main models. In the first, the governor appoints the state board, and the board selects the chief state school officer. This covers 12 states. In the second, the state board is elected and then appoints the chief state school officer; that model prevails in eight states. In the third, in place in 11 states, the governor appoints the state board, but there is an independently elected chief. And finally, in nine states, the governor appoints the state board and the chief.

Those models cover 40 states. There is a mix of other arrangements in the remaining 10 states, such as a blend of elected and appointed state board members, or a state board appointed by the legislature.

A total of 14 chief state school officers are popularly elected. But in a few of those states, a separate “education secretary” or some similar officer serves on the governor’s cabinet.

For the education reporter, the state board and the state department of education are often under-covered sources for news about decisions that are felt in the classroom.

The Local Level

The most fundamental political unit for public education governance in the United States is the school board, where thousands of local citizen-legislators oversee nearly 14,000 school districts that employ more than six million teachers and other workers and serve more than 52 million children.

Nearly 95 percent of board members are elected, usually in nonpartisan races, according to the National School Boards Association. President Bill Clinton said once said that when he left office, he might run for his local school board, something he hasn’t followed through on since leaving the White House.

Three out of four school board members spent less than $1,000 on their elections, and nearly half reported that their elections were easy, an NSBA report said. Well more than half receive no salary, but about 15 percent are paid at least $5,000 per year. The most significant decision for virtually every board is the hiring of the professional school superintendent to carry out district educational policies. Other traditional functions include having the final say on employment, real estate, and other business matters of the school district. One area where boards have played a lesser role is in adopting policies that deal with student achievement. The NSBA reports, however, that that has changed in the No Child Left Behind era, as the demands of school accountability have forced local board members to confront such issues more frequently.

For many years now, the school boards group and other advocates for local governance have been on the defensive. That’s because many critics have zeroed in on school boards as a 19th Century anachronism.

“We need to steel ourselves to put this dysfunctional arrangement out of its misery and move on to something that will work for children,” the right-leaning education scholar Chester E. Finn Jr. has written. “In far too many places, today’s school boards consist of an unwholesome mix of aspiring politicians, teacher union puppets, individuals with some cause or scheme they yearn to inflict on everyone’s kids, and ex-employees of the system with scores to settle.”

Political scientist William G. Howell of the University of Chicago notes three trends that have contributed to the decline of school boards. One was the movement toward mayoral control of schools in large cities such as Boston, Chicago, and New York City, where the powers of elected boards were either eliminated or sharply curtailed. Second, the school choice movement—in the form of charter schools, private school vouchers, and choice options both within and across district lines—has shifted power from elected boards to parents. And third, he notes, the standards and accountability movements have meant that the purposes of education have increasingly been defined from “on high.”

But there are some positive notes for the elected school board. Howell has found that when turnout is high, voters have been more likely to hold incumbent board members responsible for the test-score performance of schools. Frederick M. Hess, an education analyst with the American Enterprise Institute, notes that elected school boards provide transparency in decision-making. And despite widespread complaints about board dysfunction and micromanagement, nearly nine out of 10 school superintendents describe their relationships with their boards as mostly cooperative, Hess says.

The nation’s schools can hardly be described as removed from politics, but they do represent common ground to the degree that people from all political backgrounds agree on their need to succeed.

“For Americans, education isn’t an issue, it’s a value,” David Winston, a pollster participating in the AEI forum said. “The key for reformers is to explain the desired outcome to voters.”

Seminar

72nd EWA National Seminar
Baltimore • May 6-8, 2019

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by John Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.

Latest News

How Election Results Will Shake Up State Education Policy

There will be a new cast of characters overseeing state education policy in 2019—and many of them will be looking to shake things up to deliver on the many promises they made on the campaign trail in this year’s midterm elections.

New governors—many of them Democrats—are expected to propose ambitious budgets with new ways of funding their K-12 systems. The fresh crop of governors and state board members is likely to lead to big turnover of state schools superintendents in places where they’re appointed.

Latest News

Who Will Be Tennessee’s Next Education Chief? Gov.-elect Bill Lee Is Getting Lots of Advice

The changing of the guard that’s coming to the Tennessee governor’s office will now definitely come also to the department overseeing state education policy.

Candice McQueen took herself out of the running to continue as education commissioner with last week’s announcement that she’ll transition in January to a new job as CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.

Latest News

Charter School Backers Spent Millions on Statewide Races in 2018. They Still Lost Twice.

When former charter school executive Marshall Tuck called Assemblyman Tony Thurmond to concede over the weekend, it marked another defeat for charter-school advocates in California.

Thurmond was elected California’s top education official in the wave that led more liberal-leaning voters to cast ballots. Although both are Democrats, Thurmond had the party’s endorsement. He also was backed by teachers unions, who were outspent more than two-to-one.

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‘Blue Wave’ Helps Push Thurmond to Victory in California Schools Chief Race

On election night, things did not look good for Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, in his bid to become California’s next state superintendent of public instruction.

His opponent Marshall Tuck had markedly outspent him both in direct contributions to his campaign and in television ads and other activities funded by outside committees by a more than 2-to-1 margin. In late night election day returns, Tuck led by nearly 86,000 votes.

Latest News

Election Clears Some Obstacles for Those Who Want Engler Out at Michigan State

Michigan voters last week dislodged two gigantic barriers blocking the path for those who want to see Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees fire interim president John Engler. 

The blue wave at the top of the ticket returned a Democrat to Michigan’s governor’s mansion and the same wave at the bottom of the ticket gave Democrats control of the board, with a 6-2 advantage. Both Gretchen Whitmer, who won the governor’s race, and Kelly Tebay and Brianna Scott, who won the race for two open board seats, called for Engler to go during the election season.

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Tennesseans Reflect on Candice McQueen’s Legacy Leading the State’s Schools

As Candice McQueen prepares to leave her role as Tennessee education commissioner in January, education leaders, advocates, and parents are weighing in on her impact on the state’s schools.

McQueen 44, will become the CEO of National Institute for Excellence in Teaching in mid-January after about four years under the outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam administration.

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Congressional Democrats Seek to Sharply Curtail Restraint, Seclusion of Students

Democrats on Capitol Hill are seeking to ban the practice of isolating students in special rooms or otherwise secluding them in schools that receive federal funds, and to limit when students can be physically restrained. 

The Keeping All Students Safe Act would also require schools to notify parents within 24 hours when their child has been physically restrained, and to require states to collect and publish data on restraint and seclusion, including reports of injuries or death. 

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At the State Level, Democrats Had a Good Election Night — but Not a Great One. Did #Red4Ed Fizzle?

After a spring awakening of teacher strikes, the 2018 midterms have delivered Democrats the U.S. House of Representatives and seven new governorships — including in Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Kansas, and Maine.

For observers of education and politics alike, the key questions are these: How did the #Red4Ed movement, with its swarms of T-shirted educators organizing over school funding and teacher pay, influence this year’s historic election results? And with the mini-epoch of conservative reform fading, in which direction will Democratic officeholders move policy?

Latest News

Money the Top Education Theme in State Midterm Elections

Funding was the prime education theme in this year’s state midterm elections, fueling debates over teacher pay and more money for local schools, as well as testing voters’ appetite for tax hikes to raise that money.

Now comes a reckoning for a new crop of governors who face political and structural hurdles in delivering on their promises of more school aid, as well as for teacher and other activists whose efforts to push through revenue increases fell short in several states.

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‘Education Is a Winner by a Landslide’: Teachers Cautiously Optimistic After Evers’ Win

After what one teacher described as a “a long slog” for public schools under the eight-year administration of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, public school teachers and advocates felt optimistic watching one of their own — Tony Evers — defeat Walker Tuesday night.

“It was exciting knowing that Tony was a lifelong educator,” said Reshanna Lenoir-Beckfield, a third-grade teacher at Olson Elementary School, a Madison School District school located in Verona. “We really wanted Walker gone for a long time.”

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Election 2018: NC Teachers Break GOP Legislative Supermajority

“Remember, remember, we vote in November!” teachers shouted in May as they marched on the streets of Raleigh and in the General Assembly’s gallery, drowning out state lawmakers as they opened the legislative session.

Organizers of the historic May 16 teachers march in Raleigh say the words of the protesters became reality this week when North Carolina voters elected enough Democrats to break the Republican supermajority in the state legislature.

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Democratic State Gains Could Spark More Scrutiny of Student Loan Industry

It’s not just newly empowered House Democrats who might be pushing back on Trump administration higher education policies come January. A slew of Democratic wins in state capitals in Tuesday’s elections increases the likelihood that more states will pass laws to crack down on companies collecting federal student loans — in defiance of the Trump administration’s efforts to stop them.

Democrats flipped six state legislative chambers this week, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They also picked up seven new governor’s seats.

Latest News

Two School Board Candidates Critical of IPS Win Election, Incumbents Ousted

The final absentee ballots from Tuesday’s midterm election were counted Thursday evening, sealing the victory of Indianapolis Public School board of commissioner candidates Susan Collins and Taria Slack.

The two are critics of the IPS administration and ousted incumbent first-term board members Mary Ann Sullivan and Dorene Rodriguez Hoops. Sullivan, a former board president, championed the reforms designed by IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee the past four years. 

Latest News

Wisconsin School Referendums Break Records in ‘Landslide for Public Education’

Wisconsin taxpayers voted to pour at least $1.3 billion more into their local public schools on Tuesday, raising their own property taxes in most cases to pay for it and making 2018 another record year for school district referendums.

Capping an election cycle in which education issues dominated the governor’s race, voters approved 77 referendums by school districts asking to borrow money for capital projects or exceed their state-mandated revenue limits to maintain or expand programming. They rejected just five, totaling almost $44 million.

Latest News

What’s Next for Education in Idaho? Big Changes Loom in Legislature

With the election behind, eyes are about to turn to the legislature’s organizational session next month.

That’s because what happens next for education will be shaped by leadership changes coming to the House Education Committee and the budget-writing Joint-Finance Appropriations Committee. Depending on how the dominos fall, changes could come to the Senate Education Committee as well.

Latest News

School Choice Advocates Double Down on Vouchers After Prop. 305 Loss

Less than a day after the crown jewel of their school choice policies was crushed at the ballot box, prominent school choice advocates doubled down by calling for the Arizona Legislature to promote school choice and vouchers laws. 

Both the Goldwater Institute and American Federation for Children issued statements backing school choice in the hours after voters rejected by a 65-35 margin Proposition 305, a massive expansion of school vouchers. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Did Education Fare at the Ballot Box in 2018?

What was the big takeaway for education in the 2018 elections? Sorry if this disappoints, but there just doesn’t appear to be a clear, simple story to tell. It was an election of seeming contradictions.

This was especially true in gubernatorial races, which matter a lot, given the key role state leaders play in education.

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Colorado Amendment 73, Tax Increase For Public Education, Has Failed

Voters rejected Amendment 73, which would have raised money for Colorado’s public schools by increasing income, corporate and property taxes.

Great Education Colorado director and measure supporter Lisa Weil said she knew Amendment 73 would be an uphill battle.

“Adequate funding, fighting for equitable funding and making sure that every student has the opportunities they need to thrive, we know that that’s not about one day. It’s not about one election. It’s not about one year. It is a movement,” Weil said.

Latest News

Disappointment Largely Prevails for Teacher Caucus in Oklahoma

For politically active teachers and parents, the defeat of gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson was the night’s biggest disappointment.

There were other disappointments, too. Two sitting lawmakers who are former educators lost re-election: Rep. Karen Gaddis, D-Tulsa, and Rep. Donnie Condit, D-McAlester.

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How Teacher Unrest Failed to Shake Up the States in the Midterms

The nation’s largest teachers union declared a “major victory” in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, but the reality is far more mixed and, in some cases, deeply disappointing for educators.

The #RedforEd movement that rocked some state capitals earlier this year — which unions sought to harness as thousands of educators demanded better school funding and salaries — didn’t break through in Republican strongholds.

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Dallas, Richardson and Frisco Voters Approve School Tax Increases

Voters on Tuesday approved tax ratification elections intended to raise more money for schools in Dallas, Richardson and Frisco ISDs, according to unofficial results.

The Dallas and Richardson school districts will each get an additional 13 cents on their maintenance and operations tax rate, placing it at the state maximum of $1.17.

Latest News

Walz, a Former Teacher, Wins Minnesota Governor’s Race

Timothy J. Walz, a Democrat from Mankato, will be the 41st governor of Minnesota after defeating Republican Jeff Johnson in Tuesday’s election.

“Hello, one Minnesota!” Walz, a congressman from southern Minnesota who served 24 years in the National Guard and worked as a high school teacher and coach, proclaimed in his victory speech. “Our democracy is strong tonight.”

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Illinois’ Next Governor J.B. Pritzker Faces 8 Education Issues, Starting With Funding

Steinmetz High School in northwest Chicago, where Emily Jade Aguilar graduated last year, had just four school counselors. In a school of more than 1,200 students, that simply wasn’t enough.

“We need more mental health resources in our schools,” said Aguilar, who spent Election Day knocking on doors with Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, “to have at least a safe space for 15 or 30 minutes where I could let someone know what is going on.”

Latest News

With a Schools Superintendent Running the State, What Lies Ahead for Wisconsin?

Wisconsin’s top school official will now take over as that state’s governor, and that could mean increases in public school funding, along with better relations with teachers and organized labor.

State Superintendent Tony Evers, a Democrat who has been elected three times to that job, declared his victory in the very close race over incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker, tweeting “A change is coming, Wisconsin.”

Evers’ supporters were ecstatic.

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In Wisconsin, Scott Walker Loses to Tony Evers

After upending Wisconsin politics and infuriating liberals across the country, Gov. Scott Walker narrowly lost his bid for a third term Tuesday to Tony Evers, the leader of the education establishment Walker blew up eight years ago. 

The Associated Press called the race for Evers about 1:20 a.m. Wednesday based on unofficial returns.

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Governors, State Chiefs, and Ballot Measures: What Voters Decided

Education spending. Teacher pay. School choice. School safety. A sitting state school superintendent challenging a sitting governor. K-12 education played a huge part in the 2018 midterm elections, especially at the state level. Here’s how election night shook out when it came to selected, high-profile races of interest to educators:

Latest News

Allegheny County Voters Veto Proposed Tax Hike to Establish $18 Million Children’s Fund

Voters across Allegheny County narrowly rejected a ballot initiative on Tuesday that would have raised property taxes by a quarter mill to funnel $18 million annually to children’s programs.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, preliminary results showed county residents voted 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent to reject the tax hike that would have created the Allegheny County Children’s Fund. The rejection came despite a months-long, million-dollar campaign promoting the fund that was financed largely by local nonprofits.

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Miami-Dade Voters Say ‘Yes’ to Property Tax Hike to Pay Teachers, Hire School Police

Before any precincts reported — just early voting and mail-in ballots counted — Superintendent Alberto Carvalho declared victory for the Miami-Dade school referendum question.

“It’s won,” he said. The early tally was quite a divide: About 70 percent — the overwhelming majority of Miami-Dade County voters — approved a four-year property tax hike to pay teachers more and hire enough school police officers to staff every school.

Latest News

Accuracy Question Plagues Midterm 2018 Education Coverage

While we wait for the results of today’s voting, let’s take a few minutes to consider media coverage of education issues leading up to Election Day 2018.

No doubt, there has been a lot of midterm-focused education coverage in the past few weeks and months – much of it quite interesting and useful.

But it hasn’t been as accurate as it should have been at times — in particular when it comes to writing about the “record number” of educators running for office, which has become something of the dominant narrative in the last few weeks.

Latest News

Bill Lee Is Tennessee’s Next Governor. Here’s How He’ll Begin to Shape Education.

A political novice, Republican businessman Bill Lee has defied conventional wisdom to become Tennessee’s next governor. Now he’ll have to show that he can govern, too, over a state that has pioneered education reforms for a decade and climbed national rankings on student achievement.

Lee touted his outsider and business background in cruising to victory Tuesday over former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. A native of tony Williamson County, south of Nashville, he has run a 1,200-employee company there with annual revenues of $250 million.

Latest News

Care About Education? On Election Day, Watch These Races With Us

Education won’t be top of mind for all voters on Tuesday. But in some parts of the country, schools are at the heart of intense political battles.

In Wisconsin, teachers unions are hoping a former educator will oust their longtime foe, Scott Walker. In Arizona, a school voucher program is on the ballot — though school choice advocates aren’t happy about it. And across the country, local school board races, dozens of governors’ elections, and the fight for Congress are all set to shape education policy for years to come.

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What Education Wonks Are Watching on Election Day

Tomorrow is Election Day, in case you haven’t been conscious lately. While education may not be a top issue driving people to the polls (according to one POLITICO/Morning Consult poll) and may have been far overshadowed by health care on the campaign trail, it has been a talker in many state and federal races.

Latest News

Survey: 18- and 19-Year-Old Voters Are Suburban, Liberal and Energized by Parkland

Young voters are in the spotlight this election as onlookers wonder if they will turn out in larger numbers than in the past. Just 22 percent of young people voted in the 2014 midterms, the lowest rate of any age group.

A new survey from the Education Week Research Center set out to better understand the youngest of youth voters, 18- and 19-year-olds. Results from more than a thousand respondents showed many young voters are suburban, identify as liberal and cite school shootings as their top concern.

Latest News

The Midterm Elections and Education: What to Watch For

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that the 2018 election is on Tuesday. So what are the big issues? Which state races should you be paying attention to? What about congressional races? And what will the outcome of the election mean for the Every Student Succeeds Act and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos?

We’ve got you covered.

Republicans are expected to retain control of the Senate, although education is playing in some tight races. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is an especially hot issue in Florida.

Latest News

Okla. Candidates Differ on Teacher Pay in First Year

Republican Kevin Stitt wants a teacher pay increase included in next year’s state education budget, while Democrat Drew Edmondson is willing to hold off for at least a year on another salary increase for educators, the gubernatorial candidates said Wednesday.

In its proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget, the state Board of Education included $440 million in new annual spending for the school funding formula, school counselors, alternative education programs and other support services.

The department’s proposed budget does not include an increase in teacher pay.

Latest News

Texas Teachers Frustrated Over Education Funding Aim to Be a Force in Tuesday’s Elections

Teachers say they are more than frustrated about rising health care costs, stagnant state funding for education and what they see as constant attacks on their profession.

They’re angry. And they’re organized.

Across the country, educators have been building momentum toward improving education funding through walkouts and political rallies. In places like Oklahoma and West Virginia they’ve successfully pressured legislators for better salaries and funding and even voted some officials out of office.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What’s Motivating Teens to Vote?
Education Week survey, national polls offer insights into young voters

In a new national survey, concern about the February shootings at a high school in Parkland, Fla., was the top reason cited by eligible teen voters as motivating them to cast a ballot. And students who said they had taken civics classes were also more likely to say they planned to exercise their right to vote in the midterm elections.

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DeVos Family Pumps Big Bucks Into GOP Campaigns as Dems Bemoan Influence

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos suspended her political giving when she joined the Trump administration in 2017, but her husband and other family members remain prolific GOP contributors as they donate vast sums prior to Tuesday’s mid-term election.

The DeVos name has become a pejorative rallying cry for Democrats who bemoan the family’s long-running influence over state and federal education policy. But their continued political giving could be critical in Republicans retaining control of legislative or congressional chambers.

Latest News

The Idaho Governor’s Race: What You Need to Know

As retiring Gov. Butch Otter’s successor of choice, Brad Little touts his experience and seeks to assure voters that the state is heading in the right direction. Paulette Jordan decries what she considers a failed Little-Otter administration.

This recurring theme plays out on many issues — particularly education. During an Oct. 15 televised debate, for example, Little and Jordan spent several tense and chippy minutes sparring over Idaho’s place in national education rankings.

Latest News

As Midterms Approach, Here’s What the Latest Polls Show in 16 Key Races With Big Stakes for Schools

It has been a whiplash two years in American politics, and that has trickled down to education policy, from the controversial appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary to heated debates about school safety that have arisen in the wake of several mass school shootings.

Now, with midterm elections only days away, it’s time for voters to weigh those policy choices and decide whether they’d like to make a change.

Latest News

Non-Citizen Parents Hesitant to Register for San Francisco’s School Board Elections

San Francisco’s efforts to encourage non-citizen parents to vote in school board elections have fizzled.

By the deadline for registering this week, only 49 had signed up, according to the city’s Department of Elections.

The low registration rate means many parents in the city will be unable to weigh in about who should make decisions about their children’s schools and that the school district will have to rely on other ways to engage immigrant parents.

Latest News

Florida Governor’s Race: DeSantis, Gillum Tout Very Different Education Agendas

Education is a key issue for Florida voters who will pick the state’s next governor, and the two candidates offer starkly different plans.

Republican Ron DeSantis, a former congressman from northwest Florida, wants to continue many of the GOP school-reform plans pushed by state leaders for the past two decades.Those policies — including standardized testing, school grades and private-school vouchers — have led to improved academic achievement for students and more choices for Florida families, his campaign says.

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Survey of Teen Voters: What’s on Their Minds as Election Nears?
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Survey of Teen Voters: What’s on Their Minds as Election Nears?

Millions of young people — including many college students and some still in high school — will get their first chance to vote in a general election in November. What is on the minds of these youths, who have come of age in the time of President Trump and when the school shootings in Parkland, Fla., have helped to catalyze a surge of student activism?

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K-12 Education and the Battle for the U.S. Senate

It looks like the U.S. House of Representatives stands a good chance of flipping to Democratic control in the fall, but the Senate is much more likely to stay in Republican hands.

Still, there are nine Senate match-ups currently rated as “Toss-Ups” by the Cook Political Report, which tracks congressional races. Five of those are in seats currently held by Democrats, and four by Republicans. The GOP has a one vote edge in the Senate right now, 51 to 49, but that could tick up after the election if many of the toss-ups go GOP.

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Both Evers and Walker Are Hitting Education Hard in Their Ads

If you watch the campaign ads for governor in Wisconsin, you see both sides talking past each other much of the time.

Democrats have been talking about roads and health care. Republicans have been talking about taxes and public safety.  

There is only one issue that both sides are hammering away at in their broadcast TV ads, and that is education.

Latest News

Abrams, Kemp Draw Contrasts in Plans for Public Schools

In less than six weeks, Georgians will elect a new governor. Both major candidates — Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams — say they’d make public education a priority.

They even agree on a few issues. Both have pledged to fully fund schools through the state’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula. They both want to beef up reading programs, reduce testing and pay teachers more.

But they also disagree on plenty.

Latest News

Idaho Teachers’ Union Endorses GOP Candidate for Re-election Bid to Congress

For the second time this year, the state’s largest teachers’ union has thrown its support behind a prominent Republican candidate.

On Wednesday, the Idaho Education Association endorsed U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson in the Nov. 6 election.

In announcing the endorsement, the IEA touted the 20-year incumbent’s work on the House Appropriations Committee.

Seminar

Seminar on the Teaching Profession
Chicago • October 18-19, 2018

From state capitols to the U.S. Supreme Court, teachers are making headlines. Perennial issues like teacher preparation, compensation, and evaluation continue to be debated while a new wave of teacher activism and growing attention to workforce diversity are providing fresh angles for compelling coverage.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Five Questions to Ask After Court’s ‘Janus’ Ruling
Teachers' unions face uncertain future as decision looms

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling soon that could potentially deal a major blow to the size and strength of teachers’ unions.

The case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31, pits public sector unions against employees who contend that requiring non-union workers to pay certain fees to the union violates their freedom of speech.

EWA Radio

2018: What’s Ahead on the Education Beat
Betsy DeVos, Tax Reform, and DACA in the spotlight (EWA Radio: Episode 153)

Veteran education journalists Greg Toppo of USA Today and Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed offer predictions on the education beat for the coming year, as well as story ideas to help reporters cover emerging federal policies and trends that will impact students and educators at the state and local level. Top items on their watchlists include the effect of the so-called “Trump Effect on classrooms, and whether the revamped tax law will mean big hits to university endowments.

Seminar

71st EWA National Seminar
Los Angeles • May 16-18, 2018

EWA 71st National Seminar Los Angeles graphic

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This multiday conference provides participants with top-notch training delivered through dozens of interactive sessions on covering education from early childhood through graduate school. Featuring prominent speakers, engaging campus visits, and plentiful networking opportunities, this must-attend conference provides participants with deeper understanding of the latest developments in education, a lengthy list of story ideas, and a toolbox of sharpened journalistic skills.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Fighting ‘Fake News’ in the Classroom

During and after the 2016 presidential campaign, questions arose about whether shortcomings in civics instruction had exacerbated polarization in the electorate and influenced the election’s outcome. The questions on civics education were soon accompanied by a related one: What if schools are contributing to a breakdown in democracy by failing to ensure kids are media literate?

EWA Radio

Betsy DeVos Is Secretary of Education. Now What?
EWA Radio: Episode 108

Betsy DeVos takes the oath of office.

Kimberly Hefling of Politico discusses the new U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, who was confirmed Tuesday after Vice President Mike Pence was called in to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate. What will be her top priorities moving forward? How aggressively will the new secretary push school choice, and how likely is President Trump’s $20 billion school choice plan to gain traction? Has DeVos lost political capital during the bruising confirmation process? Was she held to a higher standard than other nominees for President Trump’s cabinet? And how much power will the Republican mega-donor have to roll back the Obama administration’s education policies and initiatives? 

EWA Radio

Trump Is Elected: What’s Next for Education Policy?
EWA Radio: Episode 97

Donald Trump spent little time on education issues during his campaign, but his victory is sure to have big implications. Journalists Alyson Klein of Education Week and Andrew Kreighbaum of Inside Higher Ed discuss the likely impact on P-12 and higher education. What will be President-elect Trump’s education priorities, and how will the GOP-controlled Congress respond? Will Trump follow through on his campaign pledge to provide $20 billion for school choice? What will be the fate of existing federal policy like the new Every Student Succeeds Act? And how will Trump approach the hot-button higher education issues like student loan debt and accountability?  

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latino Students, Charter Schools and the Massachusetts Ballot Question

This Election Day, Massachusetts voters will decide whether to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state — a hotly contested ballot measure that’s drawn more than $34 million in fundraising among the two sides and garnered national attention, with parents of students of color and advocates for minority students on both sides of the issue.

EWA Radio

Is ‘Trump Effect’ Hurting Students?
EWA Radio: Episode 94

Donald Trump speaks at campaign rally.

New York Times best-selling author Dana Goldstein (“The Teacher Wars”) discusses her reporting for Slate on whether Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s fiery rhetoric is trickling down into classrooms. Teachers across the country have reported an increase in bullying and other inappropriate behavior. Some organizations – such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Federation of Teachers – say those problems are a direct reflection of the tumultuous political season. But how much of this really starts outside of schools, and what are reasonable expectations for schools to navigate controversial political events? Goldstein offers insights and historical context for teachers who must balance instructional objectivity with their own political views. She also suggests story ideas for reporters covering the issue in local schools. 

EWA Radio

Battle in the Bay State: Charter Foes and Supporters Square Off
EWA Radio: Episode 92

(Flickr/Ariel Waldman)

In Massachusetts, a referendum on charter schools is drawing national attention. At issue is whether to raise the state cap on the number of independently operated, publicly funded campuses, and allow existing schools to boost enrollment. But there is also unusually aggressive – and expensive — campaigning on both sides of the issue, raising questions about outside influence on the decision before Massachusetts voters.

James Vaznis of The Boston Globe talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about what’s at stake on the upcoming ballot, whether the Bay State’s reputation for high-achieving charter schools pans out, and how questions of diversity and equity factor into the fight.

Multimedia

Pre-K-12 Education in the 2016 Race
The U.S. Elections & Education: Part 1

Pre-K-12 Education in the 2016 Race

Experts and advocates assess how early childhood and K-12 education issues are factoring into the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They offer analysis of the candidates’ campaign positions and explore the complex politics of education policy. They also discuss other key elections around the nation with big stakes for education.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

Seminar

Election 2016: New President, New Education Agenda
Washington, D.C. • November 14, 2016

The election of Republican Donald Trump is sure to reshape federal policy for education in significant ways, from prekindergarten to college, especially coupled with the GOP’s retaining control of Congress.

Although Trump spent relatively little time on education in his campaign, he did highlight the issue from time to time, from his sharp criticism of the Common Core and high student debt loads to proposing a plan to significantly expand school choice. And Congress has a long to-do list, including reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Seminar

The U.S. Elections & Education: Part 1
Washington, D.C. • August 30, 2016

Now that the White House race has narrowed to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, how is education playing out as an issue in the campaign? Will it prove an important fault line between the Democratic and Republican candidates? Will Trump offer any details to contrast with Clinton’s extensive set of proposals from early childhood to higher education? What are the potential implications for schools and colleges depending on who wins the White House? Also, what other races this fall should be on the radar of journalists, whether elections for Congress, state legislatures, or governor?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teachers’ Union Applauds Clinton Address, Except on Charters

Hillary Clinton shares her views and agenda for education in a July 5 speech to delegates for the National Education Association.Photo credit: @KristenRec

Hillary Clinton vowed to be a partner with educators if she wins the White House, during a speech today to the nation’s largest teachers’ union. Clinton drew enthusiastic applause from National Education Association members for most of the address, including her calls to make preschool universally available, boost teacher pay, and ease the burden of paying for higher education.

But the presumptive Democratic nominee got a far more muted response, and even some jeers, when she made a positive plug — albeit very briefly — for charter schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Trump’s Education Agenda, in 52 Seconds

Trump’s Education Agenda, in 52 Seconds

With Donald Trump now seen as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, after his strong victory in the Indiana primary, attention surely will grow to what he would actually do if elected.

If you want to know where Trump stands on education, you might think the first place to go would be his campaign website.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

K-12 Education Seen as Side Issue in White House Race

Source: Flickr/ via Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

K-12 education hasn’t been a top theme this presidential campaign cycle, but reporters could be more aggressive in mining information from the candidates on the topic, analysts said at a national forum this week.

Historically, education hasn’t played prominently on the campaign trail, said Martin West, an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The 2016 presidential election is no exception – although this race for the White House has also proven wildly unpredictable.

EWA Radio

Iowa Is First: The Presidential Candidates – and Their Education Plans
EWA Radio: Episode 57

(Flickr/Phil Roeder)

Iowa prides itself on holding the first caucuses of the presidential election year. EWA public editor Emily Richmond talks with statewide education reporter Mackenzie Ryan of the Des Moines Register about what it’s like to be at the epicenter of the presidential race insanity, her coverage of Republican hopeful Marco Rubio, and the big concerns for Iowa voters when it comes to public schools. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Higher Ed. Gets Brief Spotlight During Democratic Debate

Twitter/@NBCNightlyNews

It took nearly two hours, but education — more specifically college affordability and some differences in how to address it — came to the fore in the first Democratic presidential debate after CNN co-moderator Dana Bush asked both Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about their plans.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Debt-Free College: Why It’s News Now

As Democratic presidential hopefuls assemble in Las Vegas today for their first formal debate, one topic that has received little airtime during the Republican face-offs is likely to garner far more attention: the high cost of attaining a college degree.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

CNN Debate Aside, Ed. Finds Way Into Presidential Race

Twitter/@YahooNews

Education didn’t exactly make a splash in this week’s Republican presidential debate — barely a ripple, actually — but the issue has gained considerable attention in the 2016 contest for the White House, from debates over the Common Core to proposals on higher education access and affordability.

EWA Radio

Summer Reading List: “The Prize”
EWA Radio: Episode 38

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In 2010, billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced an unprecedented gift: he would donate $100 million to the public school district of Newark, New Jersey (dollars that would eventually be matched by private partners).

Dale Russakoff, a longtime reporter for The Washington Post, spent more than three years reporting on what turned into a massive experiment in top-down educational interventions—with decidedly mixed results. 

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Blog: The Educated Reporter

How to Get Dollars to Schools That Need Them

"Covering the Economics of Education," April 20, 2015.

At a speech in December, Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, took the United States to task for the way it funds schools.

“Public education spending is often lower for students in lower-income households than for students in higher-income households,” she told the audience at the Conference on Economic Opportunity and Inequality, in Boston.

Reporter Guide

Reporter Guide: Campaign Finance

Campaign finance might seem like the exclusive province of political reporters, but there are many good reasons why you should be paying attention – both in races for education positions and in other key races at the local, state, and federal levels with implications for education. You’ll need basic math and it helps to have familiarity with a spreadsheet, but you’ll find that once you’ve mastered the basics, a good campaign finance story can take on the fun of light detective work.

EWA Radio

Is Kochs’ High School Finance Class Pushing Conservative Agenda?
EWA Radio, Episode 8

This week, Emily and Mikhail talk to Joy Resmovits of The Huffington Post, who discusses her story (written with colleague Christina Wilkie) about the Charles G. Koch Foundation’s creation of Youth Entrepreneurs: a public high school finance course being used in schools in the midwest and south, which was designed to introduce students to free market theory and economics with a distinctly conservative point of view. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Weingarten Talks Teachers, Politics and Common Core

Lyndsey Layton (right) of The Washington Post interviews Randi Weingarten at the 67th National Seminar.

When Randi Weingarten gets depressed about the state of public education, she told attendees of EWA’s 67th National Seminar, she calls up memories of her students at the “We the People” competition in upstate New York a couple of decades ago.

Report

School Discipline Data: A Snapshot of Legislative Action – CSG Justice Center

Research suggests that suspensions, expulsions, and other disciplinary actions that remove  youth from their classrooms put students at greater risk for poor academic and behavioral outcomes. These students are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, receive future disciplinary actions, or become involved in the juvenile justice system. Youth of color, English Language Learners (ELLs), LGBT youth, and those with identified special education needs tend to experience exclusionary discipline actions at higher rates than their peers.

Reporter Guide

Using Polls in Education Reporting

Polling isn’t exclusively the province of political reporters. A handful of national surveys released each year focus on education, including the Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll about public attitudes toward education and MetLife’s annual survey of teachers. There’s also often polling done for statewide education-related elections, such as ballot measures or state superintendent races, and, periodically, by news outlets and advocacy organizations on various education-related issues.

Organization

The National Education Association

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest teachers’ union with nearly 3 million members. Its members work at every level of education, from preschool through postsecondary, but the bulk of its members work in K-12 education.

Key Coverage

Where Paul Ryan Stands on Issues Important to Colleges

Among the largest higher-education items targeted for cuts in Mr. Ryan’s budget proposals are the federal student-aid programs. He has called for ending the in-school interest subsidy on undergraduate Stafford loans and tightening the eligibility requirements for the Pell Grant program. He would completely cut off Pell eligibility for students attending college less than half-time.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Word on the Beat: Proficiency

As a regular feature, The Educated Reporter features a buzzword or phrase that You Need To Know (yes, this designation is highly subjective, but we’re giving it a shot). Send your Word on the Beat suggestions to erichmond@ewa.org.

Word on the beat: Proficiency

Organization

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is a right-leaning think tank focused on education policy. According to its mission statement, the institute aims to advance “educational excellence for every child through quality research, analysis, and commentary, as well as on-the-ground action and advocacy in Ohio.”

Organization

The National School Boards Association

The National School Boards Association is a nonprofit organization that works with federal agencies and other national associations to influence education policy as it pertains to school boards.

The Association has been particularly vocal on issues of the quality of the academic programs some cyber charters offer, citing in a report from May 2012 a “troubling” lack of “good information about results and accountability.”

Organization

National Association of State Boards of Education

The National Association of State Boards of Education “works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and assure continued citizen support for public education.” The organization is a nonprofit founded in 1958.

Organization

The Council of Chief State School Officers

The Council of Chief State School Officers is “a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions,” according to the group.

Report

College Board Swing State Education Survey

As part of Don’t Forget Ed, a campaign to make education a key issue in the 2012 election cycle, the College Board commissioned this survey of residents of nine swing states. Among its key findings is the assertion that “Education is a top-tier issue for voters in the 2012 elections for president and Congress, even if it does not always get top-tier attention from candidates.”

Key Coverage

Teachers Unions Notch Big wins on state education votes

Teachers unions won several big victories in both red and blue states Tuesday, overturning laws that would have eliminated tenure in Idaho and South Dakota, defeating a threat to union political work in California, and ousting a state schools chief in Indiana who sought to fundamentally remake public education.

Key Coverage

Education Ballot Initiative Results Show Mixed Returns On School Reform

Reform supporters come from both parties, and tend to push for charter schools and grading teachers in accordance with their students’ standardized test scores. In some states, like Connecticut, South Dakota and Idaho, voters dealt the movement a significant blow, pushing back controversial measures that would have ended an elected school board, abolished teacher tenure and instituted merit pay.

Key Coverage

Obama Finding Teacher Support Secure, If Tepid

The 20-year classroom veteran says he’s grateful to Mr. Obama for pouring billions of dollars into saving teachers’ jobs and investing in early-childhood education. And he’s very worried about GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s plan to turn more than $25 billion in federal education funding for special education and disadvantaged children over to parents, who could then spend the money at any school they choose, including a private school. That could ultimately undermine the public system, Mr. White said.

Key Coverage

Romney: ‘I’m Not Going to Cut Education Funding’

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in his most detailed comments about education spending yet, pledged during Wednesday night’s debate with President Barack Obama in Denver that he would not cut federal education funding if elected—even as he made the case that he’s the best choice to rein in a mounting deficit.

Key Coverage

State Ballot Measures Include Hot K-12 Issues

Some of the education-related ballot items, like those in Arizona and California, are part of the perennial effort to obtain more financial support for schools and seek to help K-12 school systems recover in part from the Great Recession and subsequent economic stagnation. But other proposals—such as ones in Idaho and South Dakota—represent resistance from teachers’ unions and other groups to changes they view as antagonistic to public education, such as reduced collective bargaining rights or a bigger emphasis on standardized testing.

Key Coverage

Vouchers Gain Foothold Among State, Local Democrats

But at the state and local levels, Democrats’ views on vouchers are more diverse and nuanced than what is suggested by the party’s national platform, which makes no mention of private school choice, or by the policies of the Obama administration, which has consistently opposed providing public money for private school costs. Some Democrats see vouchers as offering an escape hatch for students who would otherwise be forced to stay in academically struggling public schools.

Key Coverage

Randi Weingarten At Democratic Convention: Teachers’ Union Leader Seeks Ways To Weather Criticism

The apologetic tone was not an emotional, spur-of-the-moment outburst, even if Weingarten is given to raising her voice and slapping her hand on her leg to emphasize a point. She appeared to recognize that if teachers’ unions are going to weather another round of criticism, brought on by a new Hollywood film, “Won’t Back Down,” in which the union is the bad guy, they will have to adopt a strategy that starts with conciliation.

Key Coverage

Teachers’ Unions Donate To Republican Candidates Against Abortion, LGBT & Immigration Rights

But while teachers’ union chiefs opine on the importance of social justice, tolerance, workers’ rights and abortion rights, similar scrutiny shows that in recent years, national and local affiliates of the National Education Association — the nation’s largest teachers’ union — have endorsed candidates who disagree on all those counts. Since 1989, five percent of campaign contributions by the NEA have gone to Republicans, according to public records.

Key Coverage

Speakers Spotlight Obama Ed. Initiatives, GOP Spending Threats

College affordability, global competitiveness, and Republican threats to education spending were consistent themes for governors and other high-profile speakers on Tuesday’s first night of the Democratic National Convention.
“You can’t be pro-business unless you’re pro-education,” declared San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who gave the keynote speech, in drawing a sharp and critical contrast between President Barack Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on support for schools.

Key Coverage

Teachers Unions’ Alliance with Democratic Party Frays

Teachers unions have been the Democratic Party’s foot soldiers for more than half a century, providing not only generous financial backing but an army of volunteers in return for support of their entrenched power in the nation’s public schools.
But this relationship is fraying, and the deterioration was evident Monday as Democrats gathered here for their national convention.

Key Coverage

Obama, GOP duel over rising college expenses

WASHINGTON – President Obama would make tax credits for college expenses permanent and expand Pell grants for students from lower-earning families. The Republican team of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would emphasize the need to curb rising tuitions and federal education spending that are burdening families and the government.

Key Coverage

Who Could Be Romney’s Education Secretary?

With the Republican National Convention about to kick off, it’s officially time to start speculating about who could be presumptive GOP Mitt Romney’s education secretary if he wins the presidential election. After all, way back in 2008 (Aug. 8, to be exact), Politics K-12 guessed that then-Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan could be then-Democratic contender Barack Obama’s pick on Aug. 8. So we’re actually late to the dance this year. This time, there’s not a lot of agreement among the Republicans that I polled

Report

What Does Obama Really Believe In?

When Obama ran for president the first time, urban poverty was a major policy focus for his campaign. Senator Obama gave speeches on the issue, his campaign Web site had a dedicated poverty section with a variety of policy proposals, and in his platform, he committed his administration to “eradicating poverty,” pledging that “working together, we can cut poverty in half within 10 years.” But the official poverty rate has continued to rise under Obama.

Key Coverage

Teachers Unions Give Broadly

What do the American Ireland Fund, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network have in common? All have received some of the more than $330 million that America’s two largest teachers unions spent in the past five years on outside causes, political campaigns, lobbying and issue education.

Key Coverage

Romney and Higher Ed

Few people close to Romney’s campaign or with experience dealing with him on higher education issues in the past were willing to speak about him publicly. Several Romney education advisers, past and present, did not respond to repeated interview requests from Inside Higher Ed, or declined to comment on the candidate’s record and ideas on higher education. Nor did several people affiliated with private colleges in Massachusetts and the state’s university system during his time as governor. So the education policies and attitudes of a potential Romney administration remain a mystery.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Big Payoff For D.C. Teachers, Romney Says He Would Veto Dream Act

“We want to make great teachers rich.”

I gotta admit, that’s a heck of a pull quote from Sam Dillon’s New York Times story on teachers in Washington, D.C. earning sizeable bonuses for consistently solid performance. (Side note: Sam Dillon is one of the NYT reporters taking a recent buy-out offer. The education beat will be significantly poorer as a result, but I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next with his talents.)

Report

Meeting of the Minds

For this 2010 report, researchers surveyed 2,800 people—which included public school teachers and people who live in neighborhoods with more than one charter school. The survey found that Democrats and republicans mostly agreed on matters of education reform.

Key Coverage

Too Big to Fix

EWA 2012 National Reporting Contest winner. Crumbling school buildings can impede academic achievement, but what happens when the public votes down bond measures to upgrade the infrastructure? This series of articles looks at the impasse between school boards and the voters, and cost-saving tricks to fine tune the walls of public instruction. (The Journal News)

Report

School Boards Circa 2010: Governance in the Accountability Era

This report offers an in-depth look at the composition of the nation’s 14,000 school boards, including the finding that “school board members, especially those in large districts, are more representative of the communities they serve than state legislatures and members of Congress.

Report

School Board Election Structure and Democratic Representation

This study looks at four Michigan cities to examine whether consolidating school board elections with overall municipal elections results in school boards that are more representative of their communities. “These analyses indicate that consolidating elections may lead to increased voter turnout and to changes in the composition of the voting population.