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Andrea Gabor surveys the election and reminds us that while Trump has dominated the coverage of the election, school issues will be front and center in many states.
“National issues are getting most of the attention in the run-up to Tuesday’s midterm election, including health care, immigration and President Donald Trump.
“Yet from Arizona to Kentucky to Wisconsin, politics also remains fiercely local. Especially in states that cut school budgets as a result of the 2008 recession and Republican-sponsored tax cuts, public school funding has become a hot-button issue in many state legislative and gubernatorial races, often scrambling party loyalties. Six years after the Great Recession, most states were still spending less on schools than they were before 2008, according to a 2016 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“Teachers in several Republican-dominated states led a political groundswell earlier this year, with walkouts that closed schools. Over 300 teachers are running for political office in the midterms, more than double the number that did so in 2014. While many of the teacher candidates are Democrats hoping to unseat Republicans who cut school funding and promoted privatization in the form of charter schools and private-school voucher programs, educational activism cuts across party lines.
“In Arizona, a small group of mothers and teachers organized to oppose a 2017 law that expanded the state’s voucher program, which steers taxpayer dollars from the state’s public schools to private and religious schools. More than 100,000 people signed a petition to put their referendum on the ballot, provoking a counterattack from Americans for Prosperity, an organization backed by the conservative activists David and Charles Koch. It sued, unsuccessfully, to have it taken off of the ballot. Both sides have identified the referendum on the voucher law as a top priority.”
After years of budget cuts, some districts and states are likely to increase investment in education. And in a sign of the times, the anti-public school Governor Scott Walker claims to be “the education Governor.” Hopefully, voters will not be fooled.