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 16 of those states, the sitting governor is not seeking re-election, according to Ballotpedia.

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.)

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.

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Three Things We Heard at a Gubernatorial Candidates Forum on Early Childhood

Stark differences in how Colorado’s two would-be governors plan to tackle early childhood issues were clear at a candidate forum Monday evening.

Republican lieutenant governor candidate Lang Sias, who stood in for gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton, said Republicans would focus public funds on narrower programs that benefit the poorest children.

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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.

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The Race Is On to Convince Voters to Give More Money to Indianapolis Public Schools

With less than two months until Election Day, the effort to pass two referendums to increase funding for Indianapolis Public Schools is gaining momentum. Almost every day, campaign workers are fanning out across Indianapolis to seek support from voters.

And Superintendent Lewis Ferebee is stopping by community meetings across the district to make his case that the district needs taxpayers’ help.

This multi-pronged approach illustrates how high the stakes are for the district, which aims to raise $272 million to prevent an even more dire financial situation.

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Spending on California Schools Chief Race Expected to Set Records Again

Spending in the campaign for state superintendent of public instruction in California is expected to break records once again this fall, as charter school advocates and  labor organizations focus on the race.

Although the Nov. 6 ballot will include races for governor and U.S. Senate, it is the nonpartisan contest between Democrats — Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond and Marshall Tuck, a former charter school executive — for an office with limited power that is expected to attract the most money during the general election.

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Big Gaps in Campaign Money in All 3 Duval School Board Races

So far Duval County’s three School Board races look like a lopsided battle for money.

On one side, three candidates endorsed by a host of business and political groups have amassed many times more money than their opponents. They say their fundraising success reflects broad support for their vision for Duval public schools.

On the other side are three financial underdogs who say voters are skeptical of so much money, suspecting there are strings attached.

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Progressive Democrats’ Surprise Wins in N.Y. Primaries Leave Charter Advocates in Limbo

A longstanding threat to charter school growth could become more pressing this year now that progressive Democrats are poised to claim more seats in New York’s State Senate.

More than half a dozen incumbent senators who have supported charter schools lost their primary challenges Thursday, leaving charter advocates without key allies in Albany at a time when lawmakers will have to act if many more of the publicly funded, privately managed schools are to open.

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Wis. Gubernatorial Candidates Blame Each Other for Failing to Narrow Achievement Gap

Wisconsin’s massive gap in academic performance between its black and white students is under the spotlight of the governor’s race as the candidates blame each other for not doing more to address the persistent problem.

Wisconsin has held the distinction among states of having the largest gap in academic performance between its black and white students by some measures and that disparity has only shrunk slightly in the past 10 years, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. 

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The DNC Says ‘Education Is on the Ballot.’ Here’s What That Does and Doesn’t Mean.

Democrats think 2018 is their year, and they’re using education—and educators—to make their case.

On Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee highlighted teachers and others with education connections who are running for Congress and other elected offices. The committee said Dems are “running and winning by making education central to their campaigns” and that these candidates “want better pay for teachers and better schools for every child.”

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Democrat in Okla. Governor’s Race Outlines Education Platform

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Drew Edmondson released his education platform on Thursday and drew an endorsement from former University of Oklahoma President David Boren.

Boren is a former Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator.

Edmondson, a former Oklahoma attorney general, teacher, legislator and district attorney, faces Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt, the Republican nominee, in the Nov. 6 general election. Libertarian Chris Powell is also on the ballot.

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Tennessee’s Republican Candidate for Governor Touts School Choice, Testing Changes

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to improving education in the state, says Bill Lee, Tennessee’s Republican candidate for governor.

“There’s no one answer to this — it’s going to be a broad approach,” Lee, a fourth generation cattle farmer and president of a $250 million home care services company, told Chalkbeat during a brief interview Wednesday.

Lee was in Memphis as part of a 95-county campaign tour, which included a stop at the Memphis charter Libertas School.

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Education a Key Issue for New Mexico Candidates

New Mexico’s next governor will face an uphill climb when it comes to improving the state’s public education system.

While student proficiency scores and graduation rates have inched up during Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration, the state remains at or near the bottom of most national rankings assessing the quality of public education. As Martinez discovered, big steps are hard to come by.

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Pasco School Board Seat Comes Down to Harding vs. O’Connor

Two hopefuls aiming to grab a rare vacant seat on the Pasco County School Board appeared on track to a face-off in November.

Hudson attorney Tara O’Connor and Fox Hollow Elementary teacher Megan Harding each held about a third of the vote, with all but some mail ballots counted.

Candidates Mike Aday and Kassie Hutchinson trailed.

“Woo-hoo! I’m super excited,” Harding said when reached at her campaign party. “Obviously, the community agrees we need to put a teacher on the School Board.”

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Here Are the Noblesville, Carmel School Board Races That Could Get Interesting

Most of the candidates running for Hamilton County school boards this November will have to fight for a spot.

The deadline to file as a school board candidate was noon Friday, and the updated list shows some current board members running for re-election will face opposition, including current Carmel Clay Schools board president Layla Spanenberg.

Seven candidates filed to run for Noblesville Schools’ two open board seats. 

This election comes as many Hamilton County school districts face big decisions.

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After the Walkout, Teachers Turned to Reading, Writing and Politics

Five days into a statewide teacher walkout, Sarah Carnes was scrolling through her social media feeds when she came across a Facebook post asking if a teacher in the Mustang area would be willing to run for an open state House seat in the upcoming election.

Carnes, who is an art teacher at Mustang High School, had spent the previous week with thousands of other educators at the state Capitol, demanding that lawmakers increase funding for schools, only to be told repeatedly that the level of increase being sought was not going to happen.

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‘He’s a Liar’: Hot Debate Over Education in Pa. Governor’s Race

Three weeks into taking over as Pennsylvania’s governor in 2015, Tom Wolf began his push to send money into public schools across the state.

The plan he announced that day in the Coatesville School District — for a new tax on natural gas drilling — hasn’t been enacted. Nor has his call in his first budget to dramatically ramp up the state’s share of education funding. More dollars have flowed from the state to school districts during Wolf’s tenure. But the increase is less than what he aimed to achieve.

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Brevard School Board Election Has Power to Flip Decision Not to Arm Staff Through Marshal Program

The fate of a controversial program to train Brevard County school employees to carry guns at schools across the county could be decided in this upcoming school board election. 

Three months ago, the school board voted 3-2 to postpone indefinitely Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey’s Sheriff-trained Onsite Marshal Program, also known as STOMP, to prepare employees who volunteer for the program to carry concealed guns on campuses.

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Former ‘Teacher of the Year’ Wins Primary for Seat in U.S. Congress

In Waterbury, Conn., where she taught high school history, Jahana Hayes always told her students to never become resigned to the challenging conditions they grew up in. Hayes, who was raised amid drug addiction and became a mother before she graduated high school, understood firsthand her students’ struggles with poverty and broken homes.

Tuesday, she defied expectations, besting veteran politician Mary Glassman, a former first selectman in Simsbury, Conn. Hayes won with 62 percent of the vote.