Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states. Read more from this blog.


K-12 Education is Lucky to Be Shut Out of This Election, Some Experts Say

By Alyson Klein — October 26, 2016 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Tax returns, confidential emails, and unwanted groping has come up more often than K-12 education this election season.

But that actually has a big upside, some experts say.

When an issue gets dragged onto the presidential stage, it becomes politicized, giving candidates’ less room for what may end up being necessary compromise on sticky issues like charter school expansions, said Conor Williams, a senior researcher in the New America Foundation’s education policy program.

“Once this is the kind of thing that rallies your voter, it’s really hard to be an apostate” on the issue, Williams said.

And despite dismayed tweets every time education fails to show up in a presidential debate, the education advocacy community may actually be pretty happy that the issue is largely off the table, said Jeff Henig, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, who focuses on education and politics.

“I think it’s probably something of a relief for many,” Henig wrote in an email. For instance, “the teacher unions expect to have better access to a Clinton administration than they did to Obama/Duncan, but that might be put at risk a bit if high campaign attention forced Hillary to demonstrate she is ‘not in the pocket’ of the unions.’”

And fans of charter schools may be glad that Trump isn’t talking much about their issue, even though he has embraced an expansion of school choice. “Most of them would prefer not to be tied too closely to his coattails,” Henig said, both because he appears likely to lose, but also because it’s unlikely he would favor a serious investment in K-12 education if he did make it to the White House.

It hasn’t been a total washout for education issues in general. Henig he notes that there actually has been a substantial amount of discussion of both early-childhood and higher education in the presidential race—more, in fact, than in the past. Higher education, for example, played big in the Democratic primary race between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

What’s more, this particular election has been so rhetorically toxic that the lack of K-12 specifics is probably a good thing, Henig said.

“This election is so corrosive in so many ways that almost every issues it touches gets mud on it rather than light,” Henig said. “I’d say we’re not losing a lot by having [K-12] off the table.”

Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

Related Tags:

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal Feds Add Florida to List of States Under Investigation Over Restrictions on Mask Mandates
The Education Department told the state Sept. 10 it will probe whether its mask rule is violating the rights of students with disabilities.
3 min read
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session on April 30, 2021, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal How Biden Will Mandate Teacher Vaccines, Testing in Some States That Don't Require Them
President Joe Biden's COVID-19 plan will create new teacher vaccination and testing requirements in some states through worker safety rules.
4 min read
Nurse Sara Muela, left, administers the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site setup for teachers and school staff at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa., on March 15, 2021.
Nurse Sara Muela administers a COVID-19 vaccine to educator Rebecca Titus at a vaccination site for at the Berks County Intermediate Unit in Reading, Pa.
Matt Rourke/AP
Federal Biden Pushes Schools to Expand COVID-19 Testing, Get More Teachers Vaccinated
President Joe Biden set teacher vaccine requirements for federally operated schools as part of a new effort to drive down COVID's spread.
7 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington. Biden is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
President Joe Biden in a speech from the White House announces sweeping new federal vaccine requirements and other efforts in an renewed effort to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Harnik/AP