Education and the 2018 Elections


Education and the 2018 Elections

With the results in from the midterm elections, the question looms of how the results in federal, state, and local races will affect education policy, politics, and funding.

The political landscape is changed. Twenty states will have a new governor in January. Control of the U.S. House of Representatives will shift to Democrats, while the U.S. Senate will retain its Republican majority.

With the results in from the midterm elections, the question looms of how the results in federal, state, and local races will affect education policy, politics, and funding.

The political landscape is changed. Twenty states will have a new governor in January. Control of the U.S. House of Representatives will shift to Democrats, while the U.S. Senate will retain its Republican majority.

Meanwhile, five state legislative chambers flipped from Republican to Democratic control, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And in Connecticut, the tied state Senate tipped to Democrats.

As we noted in a blog post right after the election — “How Did Education Fare at the Ballot Box in 2018?” – the story this year was one of seeming contradictions, especially in terms of high-profile state races. 

If that’s not enough to keep an eye on, a host of local school boards around the country will see turnover as a result of the elections. Furthermore, voters weighed in directly on a host of ballot measures, including many that asked them to approve new funding for schools. 

So, even as the elections are over, there is no shortage of important stories for reporters to tell about how the outcomes will reshape education priorities in the coming year, and beyond.

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

Survey of Teen Voters: What’s on Their Minds as Election Nears?
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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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Seattle Property-Tax Levy to Test Voters’ Generosity Toward Education

Supporters of the $600 million-plus city education levy on Seattle’s Nov. 6 ballot have reason to be confident. For the most part.

They have raised nearly $300,000, have no organized opposition and have seen voters approve similar measures four times before. This Election Day’s edition includes programs for people all the way from preschool tots through K-12 students to adults in community college.

But the proponents of Seattle Proposition No. 1 also have some cause to be wary.

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Analysis: In Testy State Superintendent’s Debate, Narratives Come Into Sharp Focus

If Sherri Ybarra and Cindy Wilson had their last big face-to-face showdown Friday night, it showed.

The two state schools superintendent’s candidates took turns going on the offensive during a debate, aired statewide on Idaho Public Television. Ybarra repeatedly touted her experience and tried to paint her opponent as uninformed. Vowing repeatedly to “show up” for kids, Wilson painted the incumbent as out of touch, and accused Ybarra of misrepresenting the record on her school safety plan.


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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.

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State Schools Chiefs: Who’s Elected, Who’s Not, and Races to Watch This Year

More than half of the nation’s 13 elected state superintendent positions are up for grabs this fall.

But in South Carolina this year, there’s a twist: As voters go to the polls to vote on their new state chief, they’ll also decide whether the general public—or the state’s governor—is best fit to select who should be in charge of improving the state’s schools.

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How Angry Parents and Teachers Could Expel Scott Walker From Office

Tom Rulseh was baffled by the email from an angry constituent. Why, the woman demanded to know, had the Three Lakes School District allowed Gov. Scott Walker to film a campaign ad in a public school that had nearly been forced to close thanks in part to Walker’s own budget cuts?

The ad, it turned out, featured employees and teachers from the rural Wisconsin district praising Walker’s education policies. “Governor Walker has been very helpful to us with state funding,” claimed one school board member in the ad.

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What the Tenn. Candidates for Governor Said About Education During Debate

Education was front and center in the debate Tuesday night between Williamson County businessman Bill Lee and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.

“It’s critically important that every single Tennessee student, every kid in Tennessee has access to a quality education through their school system,” said Lee, a Republican. He added that Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson supports his campaign.

Lee, 58, praised the Innovation Zone schools in SCS, struggling schools being turned around with new leadership and more autonomy from the district.

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GOP Candidate Ron DeSantis and Others Want to Put the Constitution ‘Back’ in Florida Schools. It’s Already There.

Dawn Brown cued up a Discovery video about the 1689 English Bill of Rights, and told her seventh-grade civics students to pay close attention to the details.

“This is where the ideas for our Bill of Rights came from,” Brown said, referring to the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The students at Crews Lake Middle in Pasco County had been studying the documents that undergird America’s governmental philosophy, with plans to get into some of the key principles — due process, separation of powers, natural rights — the following week.

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A Month Before the Election, Pa. Gubernatorial Candidates Continue Trading Barbs Over Education

Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidates Tom Wolf and Scott Wagner have continued to trade barbs over education policy.

Wolf has hit Wagner twice in recent weeks, first by connecting the former state senator to lightning-rod U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

DeVos’s cabinet nomination drew fierce opposition, particularly from teachers’ unions, a key Democratic constituency. Soon after the most recent campaign filings, Wolf’s camp seized on the DeVos connection in a press release about “DeVos’s dark money group.”

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Tax Hikes to Fund Schools? Once Taboo, the Idea Is Gaining Momentum

Politicians on the state campaign trail this year are making some eye-popping promises for parents and educators: billions more dollars for schools, double-digit pay raises for teachers, and hundreds of millions more to replace dilapidated schoolhouses.

And in some states, Democrats are going so far as to broach a topic often seen as off-limits in election season: tax increases.

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GOP Candidate Blasts Broward Schools Over Raises

Florida Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis has lambasted the Broward school district for giving large raises to 11 administrators.

He even suggested the managers should pay the money back.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Friday that the district had given raises of between 7 percent and 21 percent to some administrators last year, while providing 2.2 percent raises to most employees. The district said the increases were given to correct pay inequities.

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Betsy DeVos an ‘Attractive Boogeyman’ for Political Campaigns

“Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wants to decimate funding to our public schools,” warns a Facebook ad from Mikie Sherrill, who is running for an open U.S. House of Representatives seat in New Jersey. Another, from Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who is running for re-election, tells voters, “It’s time to fire Betsy DeVos.”

And in the U.S. Senate race in Nebraska, Democrat Jane Raybould, a Lincoln City councilwoman, attacked Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., in a recent debate for casting the “decisive” vote in favor of DeVos’ confirmation back in 2017.

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Oregon Education: Where Kate Brown and Knute Buehler Stand

Kate Brown is proud of her record on education during the 3½ years she’s served as Oregon’s governor. Spending is up 22 percent, 1,300 more low-income children have access to free preschool each year, and the graduation rate rose 3 percentage points in two years, a faster rate than in prior years. 

But her Republican challenger, Knute Buehler, sees a legacy of failure. Test scores and college-going rates are mediocre and haven’t improved. Most troubling, he said, the state’s graduation rate remains the third-worst in the nation.

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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.

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K-12 Funding in Spotlight as Bitter Rivals Do Battle for Wis. Governor’s Seat

Last fall, Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker used Southern Door High School’s newly installed 3D printing lab in this small town near Green Bay as a backdrop to propose a $639 million increase in public school funding.

“We know that ensuring our students’ success, both in and outside the classroom, is critical to the state’s continued economic success,” said Walker, now in a fierce campaign for a third term against long-time state schools chief Tony Evers.