Voters in several states will make decisions today that will affect the quality of schools for years to come.
Vouchers—The polls don’t look good for supporters of statewide, universal vouchers in Utah. Voters will consider whether or not to repeal a law approved earlier this year by the legislature that would give every student a voucher worth between $500 and $3,000, depending on income.
Governors—Voters in Mississippi and Kentucky will elect their heads-of-state. Kentucky incumbent Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a Republican, is in danger of losing to Democrat Steve Beshear. In Mississippi, Republican Haley Barbour seems safe, according to the polls, against Democrat John Eaves.
Legislatures—Virginia is one of three states with legislative elections (New Jersey and Mississippi are the others), but control of the Senate in this once reliably Republican state is in play this year as Democrats seek to take control. The GOP now controls Virginia’s Senate chamber by a 23-17 margin. Since legislatures play a major role in setting education policy and funding public schools, these races aren’t to be underestimated.
Mayors—Several big-city mayoral seats are up for election—including in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Houston—and even if the mayor has no direct control over schools, the position can serve as a bully pulpit for education reform. In Indianapolis, for example, Democrat Mayor Bart Peterson has the authority to open charter schools and has 16 mayor-sponsored schools in the city already. He’s in a tough re-election campaign.
We’ll keep track of the results, and what it means for education, here and at www.edweek.org.