Education and the Election: What Voters Will Decide

Published November 9, 2016

Education policy has taken a back seat in the presidential election this year as the candidates instead have favored debating the economy, terrorism, corruption, and many, many non-policy-related topics. Despite the virtual absence of education from the national stage, notes voters in several states will decide education policy on the state level:

A different dynamic has taken hold at the state level, with education issues getting a relatively large amount of attention in states such as California, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, where ballot measures and governors’ races have put the K–12 policy debate squarely in front of voters.

And among states overall–even in places where education has been overshadowed by other issues–the results of Tuesday’s vote could still have a major impact on approaches lawmakers take and just who makes the decisions on the Every Student Succeeds Act, which in December [2015] replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and which goes into full effect less than a year from now. outlines the education policies voters will decide on in six states:

Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity to vote for or against charter school expansion in the state.

Georgia is considering a referendum that would create an “Opportunity School District” for the state’s lowest performing schools. This district would be run by a superintendent appointed by the governor.

California voters will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot initiative, called Proposition 58, that would allow many more students to receive bilingual instruction.

Louisiana voters will have to decide whether they want to allow colleges and universities to make their own judgment calls on tuition hikes this week.

Several states are looking into new ways to fund public education or improve funding of public education. In Missouri, Constitutional Amendment 3 would provide around $300 million each year to early education anti-smoking efforts through a cigarette tax increase. And in Maine, voters will decide whether to approve a 3 percent income tax surcharge for those making more than $200,000 in order to fund public education.

In addition to specific ballot initiatives, EdWeek points out “12 governor seats, 5,915 legislative seats, and five superintendent positions are up for election this year,” and whoever voters elect “will have a greater say, under ESSA, in shaping teacher evaluations and school accountability systems, two politically volatile issues.”



School Choice Roundup

  • UTAH: Charter school enrollment is slowing, but a state board of education spokesman says he expects it to rebound.

Common Core and Curriculum Watch

  • ARIZONA: Students at Dysart Unified School District outside Phoenix make their own schedules and work at their own pace.

Education Today

  • TEACHER TURNOVER: Chad Aldeman analyzes data and concludes, “Contrary to conventional wisdom, teacher retention rates don’t seem to be changing that much.”

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