EdWeek's Election Watch
Complete coverage of the 2018 midterm elections
The stakes were high in this year’s midterm elections for K-12 policy, with 36 governorships up for grabs, along with more than three-quarters of state legislative seats, and pivotal votes for control of the U.S. Congress.
And among the candidates running for office were teachers—at least 177 had filed to run for state legislative seats, according to an Education Week analysis.
Here highlights from around the country on the what happened in key races on Election Day, along with background articles and Commentaries on the big education issues that fueled this year’s elections.
Debates over teacher pay and more money for schools tested voters’ appetite for tax hikes to raise that money. Now comes the reckoning for newly elected officials.
Sand Springs, Okla.
Those who hoped for a “teacher wave” are likely to be disappointed by the election results, but many educators say the losses only strengthen their resolve to fight for better pay and school funding.
The 2016 National Teacher of the Year will represent Connecticut’s 5th district, becoming the first African-American woman from the state to serve in Congress.
More highlights from Education Week’s 2018 election night coverage:
- 'It's Like a High School Girl Fight': Talking Politics With Students After Election Day
- Five New Governors to Watch on Education
- Election Night Brings Highs and Lows for Oklahoma Teachers
- Teachers Defiant After Educator Loses Bid for Arizona Governor
- With a Schools Superintendent Running the State, What Lies Ahead for Wisconsin?
- Buckle Up, Betsy DeVos: It Looks Like Democrats Have Won the House
- Expansion of School Vouchers Gets Trounced in Arizona
- Governors, State Chiefs, and Ballot Measures: What Voters Decided
- Four Principals Win Seats in Oklahoma's Statehouse
- What Newly Elected Teachers Should Do Next
- Even If They Lose, Teachers Who Run for Office Score a Win
Catch up on EdWeek’s Election Day Watch party!
Teacher candidates made waves on election night, and Education Week’s Madeline Will and Daarel Burnette II were on the ground in Oklahoma and Arizona live-tweeting the action. Catch up on their commentary and highlights from the races that matter to educators by following the hashtag #EdWeekWatchParty.
Races We're Watching
Arizona’s teacher strikes led to a promise by Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican running for re-election, to provide teachers a 20 percent pay raise by 2020, but teachers said that wasn’t enough. The Democratic Party’s candidate for governor, David Garcia, is an education professor who said, if elected, he would raise taxes on the state’s wealthiest 1 percent to bring education funding back to pre-Recession levels. Republicans argue that if Democrats are in control, they’ll run off emerging businesses in the state.
Result: Gov. Doug Ducey, R, wins re-election. | Read more >
Nowhere has the fight over gun control been more intense than in the state with 2018’s deadliest school shooting. Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is not up for re-election and is running for the U.S. Senate, signed several gun-control measures during the last legislative session, but many constituents say he didn’t go far enough. Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis said he will reverse some of those measures, while Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum has said he will strengthen the state’s gun-control laws.
Result: Ron DeSantis, R, wins. | Read more >
A yearslong court battle over how much the state spends on education and how the money is distributed among districts reached a head this year when the state supreme court gave the legislature until the end of the next legislative session to boost spending or risk having public schools shut down by the court. Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach said he would fight the court’s decision and look to make even more tax cuts that could ultimately decrease school spending amounts, while Democratic nominee Laura Kelly said she would comply with the court’s demands and seek new revenue sources for public schools.
Result: Laura Kelly, D, wins. | Read more >
Incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has spent the past several months touting both his tax cuts and his school spending record. He’s also attempted to hold schools more accountable for the ways that they spend money. His opponent, Ben Jealous, a Democrat and a former president and CEO of the national NAACP, has promised to raise more money for schools through a tax on recreational marijuana.
Result: Gov. Larry Hogan, R, wins re-election. | Read more >
Since 2011, when the state’s Republican-controlled legislature and governor approved a series of tax cuts and, in the process, made Wisconsin a right-to-work state, Democrats, public employee unions, and especially teachers have been gunning to unseat Republican Gov. Scott Walker from office. This year, the state’s Democrats placed Tony Evers, the state’s longtime elected superintendent, on the ballot to challenge Walker’s bid for a third term. That’s placed schools front and center.
Result: Tony Evers, D, wins. | Read more >
Arizona — School Choice
Arizona voters will weigh in on whether to massively expand eligibility for vouchers in what has become one of the most contentious ballot-box battles over school choice in the 2018 midterm elections. It's called Proposition 305. And it would allow all public school students in the state to apply for Arizona Empowerment Scholarships, a program which is currently restricted to a few select groups of students, such as those attending failing schools or those in foster care.
Result: Measure defeated. | Read more >
Colorado — Education Funding
This past spring, thousands of Colorado teachers skipped work and protested at the state Capitol in Denver over school funding. Now, they will have the chance to vote on a statewide ballot measure for higher taxes and education spending. Amendment 73 would annually provide more than $1.6 billion more for schools.
Result: Measure defeated. | Read more >
South Carolina — State Schools Chiefs
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.
Result: Measure defeated. | Read more >
While educators should keep an eye on the outcome of these nine close Senate races, there’s a House race that could really pique their interest:
Connecticut's Fifth District
Among the educators running for office is the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Jahana Hayes. She is running as a Democratic candidate to represent Connecticut in the U.S. House of Representatives. If elected, she'll be the first black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. Hayes will face Republican Manny Santos, a Marine veteran and immigrant from Portugal.
Result: Jahana Hayes, D, wins. | Read more >
Teachers Who Ran for Office
During 2018’s many statewide teacher strikes and protests, teachers promised to carry their concerns over pay and school funding straight to the polls. At least 177 teachers ran for their state legislatures in more than half the country, according to an Education Week analysis. But most were not successful: Just 42 current teachers were elected on Nov. 6. We compiled a searchable database of all teachers who ran for state office, including their party affiliations, school districts, subjects taught, and other relevant information. Check it out.
2020 Vision: Education Policy and Politics Beyond the Midterms
At this live event, Education Week and The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development join forces for a look at the 2018 midterm elections and what education issues and controversies are likely to resonate in the fast-approaching 2020 election year, with control of both the White House and Congress in the balance.
Nov. 28, 2018 | George Washington University's Jack Morton Auditorium, Washington, D.C.