Education and the 2018 Elections


Education and the 2018 Elections

The stakes for education are high in the 2018 midterm elections. But the reasons go far beyond whether President Donald Trump will still have a Republican-controlled Congress. A host of state and local races, including gubernatorial and school board contests, will matter -- a lot.

The stakes for education are high in the 2018 midterm elections. But the reasons go far beyond whether President Donald Trump will still have a Republican-controlled Congress. A host of state and local races, including gubernatorial and school board contests, will matter — a lot.

To be sure, if Democrats gain a majority in the House, as some predict, that would change the political dynamics over federal policy and funding on education, and Congress’ oversight of the U.S. Department of Education. But so many key decisions on education are made at the state and local levels.

Thirty-six governors’ seats are in play this November, including for the nation’s five most populous states: California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania. In 17 of those states, the sitting governor is not seeking re-election.

Also, elections in state legislatures across the nation could tip the balance of power from one party to the other in some places. (One story angle that has gained traction this year is the large number of educators running for elected office, especially state legislative seats. Education Week has developed a database identifying more than 150 teacher-candidates. Of those, 101 have advanced to the general election.)

Meanwhile, voters will choose a state superintendent of schools in seven of the 13 states where the post is elected, according to Ballotpedia. Those states are Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

If that’s not enough to keep an eye on, school board seats in a host of districts from coast to coast will be on the November ballot. These elections can have a profound impact. After all, school boards set local policy and regulations, hire the superintendent, adopt the curriculum, and oversee implementation of state and federal requirements. They also oversee millions — and in the case of some large districts, billions — of dollars in education funding.

When it comes to school board races, local education journalists can play a critical role in raising awareness — and deepening public understanding — about contests that often slip under the public radar but can have big consequences.

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.

Latest News

Late Votes Deliver a Narrow Win for Jefferson County School Bond Measure

Voters in Jefferson County narrowly approved a $567 million bond request that will allow the school district to improve its buildings.

Jeffco Measure 5B, the bond request, initially appeared to have failed, even as voters supported Measure 5A, a $33 million mill levy override, a type of local property tax increase, by a comfortable margin. But as late votes continued to be counted between Election Day and today, the gap narrowed — and then the tally flipped.

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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.

Latest News

Kathy Hoffman Wins Arizona Schools’ Chief Race

A Democrat will be Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction for the first time since 1995.

The latest vote tallies showed Monday that Democrat Kathy Hoffman has a 54,000-vote lead over Republican Frank Riggs in the race to be the state’s top education official.

With Monday’s results, there are only about 175,000 votes left to be counted, most of those from Maricopa County. And the latest vote tallies from the state’s largest counties have been breaking heavily in Hoffman’s favor.

Latest News

Thurmond Widens Lead Over Tuck in Race for California Schools Chief

In what may be a pivotal moment in the race, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, has maintained his lead over Marshall Tuck in the contest for California’s state superintendent of public instruction based on the ongoing tallying of millions of uncounted ballots.

Thurmond has not only erased the 86,000 vote lead Marshall Tuck enjoyed in the post-election day count, but leads Tuck by just over 74,000  votes, according to the latest figures released Wednesday evening by the California Secretary of State.

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Florida Voters Are Saying Yes When School Districts Ask for More Money. Is That a Good Thing?

Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins takes a clear message from last week’s election, which saw many Floridians vote to tax themselves more to help public schools meet rising costs.

People see the challenges firsthand and “they know they want better,” he said, referring to tax referendums that won approval in Hillsborough and seven other Florida school districts.

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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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Wisconsin Needs $2 Billion More to Cover Programs and Schools, Report Says

Incoming Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and state lawmakers would need to come up with more than $2 billion just to keep doing what the state already does and provide a healthy increase to schools, according to a new report. 

Such a budget situation would be difficult in any year but could prove particularly tricky with split control of state government for the first sustained period since 2011.

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. 

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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.

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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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Parkland Activists Took on the N.R.A. Here’s How It Turned Out.

After the shooting massacre at a high school in Parkland, Fla., survivors found themselves taking on the National Rifle Association as they crisscrossed the country rallying young adults to register and vote against candidates opposed to gun control.

On Tuesday, the Parkland students got a dose of political reality.

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How Many Teachers Ran for Office in 2018?

Even before the election, pundits were calling 2018 “the year of the teacher.” 

The Christian Science Monitor and the Associated Press both said an unprecedented number of educators sought political office this year. “The teacher strikes pushed a record number of educators to run for office,” wrote Vox, in an article noting that “more than 1,000 teachers will be on the ballots across the country.”

Latest News

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

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.”