In a relatively quiet night for state elections, business executive and Republican Matt Bevin won the governor’s race in Kentucky on Tuesday, setting up potential instability for the Common Core State Standards and a possible opportunity for new school choice programs in the Bluegrass State.
Although Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway had maintained a slim lead in polling leading up to the race, a late push by Bevin that included a TV ad pledging to repeal the standards put him over the top.
Bevin, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Mitch McConnell last year, has argued that Kentucky adopted the standards largely as a ploy to grab federal funds. The state was the first to adopt the common core and the first to administer statewide exams aligned to the standards, and has often been viewed as a model for common-core implementation.
The governor-elect won’t have the power to nix the standards by himself—and the state is already conducting a review of the standards based on public comments that could lead to some relatively minor alterations. But Bevin will have the power to pick new members of the state board over the next several years, and that could destabilize the common core’s place in the state. As I wrote earlier this year, common-core foes in Kentucky were expecting major shifts if Bevin were to win the election, but not necessarily a complete rejection of the standards.
Bevin also supports charter schools and vouchers, policies that Kentucky lawmakers have declined to adopt.
Elsewhere, Mississippi voters on Tuesday rejected an initiative that could have led to a new school funding model in the state and significantly higher state spending on K-12. Republican lawmakers argued that Initiative 42 gave too much power to the courts in deciding what constituted a properly functioning system of schools.
And in Colorado, voters approved Proposition BB to let the state keep about $66 million in tax revenues derived from marijuana sales, the majority of which was earmarked for school construction.
In Louisiana, the run-off election for governor between state House Minority Leader John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and GOP U.S. Sen. David Vitter will take place on Nov. 21. Both are opposed to the common core. But unlike in Kentucky, the majority of Louisiana state school board members are elected, and those in favor of common core appear to have maintained their majority on the 11-member board. As in Kentucky, Louisiana is undertaking a review of the standards.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.