Recap: The 50 Most Important Education Votes in 2016

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Below is our complete Election Night recap of this year’s top education races. For continuing coverage and analysis, sign up for The 74 newsletter.

6:15 p.m. Dec. 5 — McCrory Concedes: It’s a month late, but it’s official: On Monday, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina conceded to Democrat Roy Cooper in “the closest governor’s race” in state history. Monday’s news followed a weeks-long battle by McCrory to retain his seat that prompted a recount and unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.

Throughout his campaign, Cooper was an outspoken critic of North Carolina’s new law barring transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity, and the new state leadership could have profound effects on transgender students.

Additionally, Cooper’s election could have huge national implications for elected officials who oppose inclusive transgender bathroom policies, a heated debate that has largely played out in American schools. In October, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would consider whether the Obama administration could require public schools to allow transgender students to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity. —Mark Keierleber

3:01 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 9) – Political Outsider, Right-to-Work Champion, Wins Missouri Governor’s Race: Newcomer Eric Greitens, a Republican, will succeed two-term Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who was term-limited out of office. The political neophyte defeated Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster 51–45.

Greitens’ victory, along with continued Republican control of the state Legislature, all but assures that Missouri will become a right-to-work state with laws that diminish the power of labor unions, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

That result creates potential for an invigorated school choice movement in a state where well-funded labor unions have traditionally fought tooth and nail against such education reforms.

(Read our prior coverage here: In Missouri, a Fight to Override a Governor’s Veto — and to Rescue Poor Kids from Failing Schools)

Greitens, who grew up as a Democrat and later switched parties, campaigned as an outsider who promised to clean up corruption in state government, among Republicans and Democrats alike.

The 42-year-old former Navy SEAL and decorated combat veteran is also a humanitarian activist, Rhodes scholar, best-selling author, and founder of the Mission Continues, a philanthropic organization for returning veterans who want to serve their communities, the St. Louis Dispatch reported. —Mareesa Nicosia

EDlection—Buzzing Now on Social Media:

12:35 p.m. Wednesday — Clinton Concedes to Trump; President-Elect’s Education Aims Remain Hazy: Speaking to supporters in a midtown Manhattan hotel late this morning, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who held at least a narrow lead over her Republican opponent Donald Trump throughout the campaign, conceded defeat to the billionaire businessman and political novice. Trump will become the nation’s 45th president.

“We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead,” Clinton said.

Trump’s victory shocked pollsters, financial markets, Americans of both parties, and the international community by attracting huge turnouts that helped him win crucial swing states like North Carolina, Ohio and Florida, as well Rust Belt states where Clinton was thought to be safely ahead, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Republicans also retained control of the House and Senate.

Trump devoted little time during the campaign to education. He vowed in an October speech to push for some sort of broad education bill during his first 100 days in office that would cover both K-12 and higher ed. His primary policy proposal was a sweeping school choice plan for poor children that echoed the talking points of choice advocates but fell short on details — including how he would fund it and incentivize “inner-city” school districts to adopt smaller-scale programs. –Carolyn Phenicie

12:30 p.m. Wednesday — Maine Education Tax Too Close to Call: Maine’s ballot measure to fund education by taxing the wealthy had a 6,000-vote lead Wednesday morning, the Portland Press Herald reported, making it too close to call. Question 2 would add a 3 percent tax to those making over $200,000, ultimately raising $123.8 million toward the state’s requirement to fund 55 percent of K-12 education. Opponents worry the additional levy cause wealthy residents to leave the state. —Kate Stringer

11:45 a.m. Wednesday – Early Results Indicate Marcellino, Who Fought Campaign Over Ed Record, Will Retain NY Senate Seat: Ahead of Tuesday’s election, all attention focused on a handful of tight contests on Long Island that would determine which party would control the New York State Senate. In one of those races, unofficial results show Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino, the Senate Education Committee chairman, with a narrow victory. Although Democrats have maintained that the race is too close to call until after absentee votes are counted, indications are the GOP will retain control of the Senate in Albany.

Democrat Jim Gaughran campaigned hard against Marcellino’s education record, directly tying the education chairman to state standardized tests that riled New Yorkers — especially on Long Island — last spring.

Marcellino, a former New York City teacher and education administrator who was first elected to the Senate in 1995, has voted to increase the number of charter schools and evaluate teachers based on student performance. When about half of third- through eighth-grade students refused to take state math and English exams last spring, Marcellino’s district became a battleground in New York’s opt-out movement. Gaughran, the Suffolk County Water Authority chairman, used the issue to claim that “career politicians” in Albany have demanded “more time be spent on testing than teaching.” —Mark Keierleber

11:10 a.m. Wednesday – Early Results in Tight North Carolina Gubernatorial Race Suggest Democratic Upset: It appears Democrat Roy Cooper, an outspoken critic of North Carolina’s law banning transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity, will become the state’s next governor. Cooper declared victory over incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory early Wednesday in a speech rebuffed by the GOP as “rude and grossly premature.” Media reports said the race was too close to call, with preliminary results showing Cooper up by only about 5,000 votes.

The controversial transgender bathroom law, which also affects North Carolina’s K-12 students, became a key sticking point in the gubernatorial contest after McCrory approved the measure in March. Cooper has called the law discriminatory and used the widespread backlash as a cornerstone of his campaign.

Cooper’s election could have huge national implications for elected officials who oppose inclusive transgender bathroom policies, a heated issue that is largely playing out in American schools. The U.S. Supreme Court announced in late October that it would decide whether the Obama administration can require public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity. —Mark Keierleber

11:05 a.m. Wednesday — Montana Governor, Public School Advocate Bullock Narrowly Wins Re-election: Montana voters returned Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock to office, picking him over Republican challenger Greg Gianforte. The race wasn’t called until Wednesday morning, with the incumbent leading by just over two percentage points. Bullock was backed by the state teachers union, as well as the Network for Public Education, a group that opposes charter schools and test-based accountability.

The candidates had sharply divergent views on education policy. Bullock emphasized the expansion of pre-K, while Gianforte focused on school choice initiatives. As governor, Bullock supported a type of charter school that shares many similarities to traditional public schools, including being overseen by a local school board.

Bullock’s position was described by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle: “‘Once you start privatizing,’ Bullock said, it ends up diverting resources and money from public schools. Charter schools in other states, especially those run by for-profit companies, have had ‘mixed results,’ he said, and they lack accountability to elected school boards, to state education standards and to taxpayers.”

Gianforte, a tech billionaire who funds private schools and whose family foundation provides private school scholarships to students not doing well in the public schools, has said, ““In education, as in business, one size does not fit all. Competition improves everybody’s performance.” —Matt Barnum

10:54 a.m. Wednesday – Key races remain undecided in Colorado, though lean GOP: Control of the Colorado state Senate and Board of Education remained up in the air Wednesday morning.

Three of the board’s seven members were up for reelection, and as expected, Republican incumbents Steve Durham and Joyce Rankin easily held onto their seats. However, a key race in the Denver suburbs remained too close too call, with the Republican incumbent Debora Scheffel narrowly leading. The race will determine control of the board; Republicans currently holding four seats, although votes have not always split along party lines. In a case of strange bedfellows, both Democrats For Education Reform and the state teachers union backed Scheffel’s Democratic challenger, Rebecca McClellan.

Control of the state Senate was up in the air as well, with two crucial races yet to be called. However, the Denver Post reported that Republicans appear to have an edge. The GOP currently maintains a narrow majority, but Chalkbeat Colorado reported that if Democrats retake power, it could mean more money for education, a less hospitable environment for charter schools, and a greater likelihood of retaining the PARCC exam, which is tied to the Common Core standards.

In one state House race of particular interest to education advocates, DFER-backed Democrat Jeff Bridges maintained a narrow lead over Republican Katy Brown, who was supported by the state teachers’ union.

Bond and tax initiatives to raise money for schools had mixed fates across the state. Most notably, Denver voters approved two tax hikes to support educator training programs and school facility improvements. —Matt Barnum

10:25 a.m. Wednesday — Incumbents Sweep Oakland School Board Race: A heated Oakland school board contest fueled by the growth of charter schools failed to knock any of the incumbents out. Jody London, Jumoke Hinton-Hodge, Roseann Torres, and James Harris will all be returning to the board, the East Bay Express is reporting. Great Oakland Public Schools, a school reform group, endorsed all the incumbents except Torres, which it said was not a reflection of her stance on school choice, but rather her poor attendance record at board meeting. The teachers union backed Torres and several challengers in a crowded field of 12 candidates vying for four seats. The race was also seen as something of a referendum on Oakland’s reform-minded superintendent, Antwan Wilson, who has tried to bring universal enrollment to the district where nearly 25 percent of students attend charters schools. —Kate Stringer

9:37 a.m. Wednesday – Union-backed Democrats Take Two Seats on Nebraska State Board of Education: Lisa Fricke, a Democrat, ousted Glen Flint, the incumbent Republican in District 2 on the Nebraska State Board of Education, the Omaha World Herald reported. Flint had been appointed by former Gov. Dave Heineman in March 2014. Though Nebraska is one of the few states without a charter law (advocacy groups have a bill in the works for 2017), Flint supported both charters and vouchers for Cornhusker students.

The 28,000-member teachers union backed Fricke as well as Patsy Koch Johns, who ran for a District 1 seat; both are retired educators.

Fricke wants to work with Nebraska school districts and state officials to develop “reasonable accountability” measures as part of the new state assessments under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Fricke and Flint appeared to diverge sharply on the issue of transgender student rights, according to their statements on a League of Women Voters questionnaire. In response to a question about what policy the state should adopt regarding transgender students, Flint advocated against the ability to transition.

“Gender is determined at birth. Let’s get these students the help they need, rather than a lifetime of regret,” he said, adding a link to a website addressing sex change regret. Fricke responded by citing state policy that provides for inclusivity for all students.

“All students who enroll in our public schools should be taught in a safe, enriching, and welcoming environment,” she said. —Mareesa Nicosia

9:22 a.m. – Union-backed Candidates Sweep San Francisco School Board Races: Two incumbents and two new members were elected to the San Francisco school board, where four of the seven seats were on the ballot. All four winners were endorsed by the United Educators of San Francisco; the one incumbent not supported by the local union lost her re-election bid. Two candidates backed by charter advocates — including Phillip Kim, who works for KIPP charter schools — won little support. Incumbent and Board Chair Matt Haney, who received a surprising endorsement from President Obama, was the top vote getter. The Board was in the news earlier this year for discontinuing its contract with Teach For America. —Matt Barnum

9:05 a.m. Wednesday – Common Core Antagonist Takes New Hampshire’s Governor Race: Republican Chris Sununu narrowly beat his Democratic challenger Colin Van Ostern in New Hampshire’s gubernatorial race. He will succeed Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who ran for U.S. Senate. Sununu, a member of New Hampshire’s Executive Council, wants to abolish the state board of education and opposes Common Core State Standards and the Smarter Balanced assessments his state has adopted. He supports charter schools. —Naomi Nix

9:00 a.m. Wednesday – Amid turmoil, Detroit Elects a New School Board: In a crowded election with over 60 candidates, Detroit elected seven members to a newly empowered school board. At least four of the candidates on track to win were endorsed by the Detroit Federation of Teachers, and one was a member of the city’s previous school board. Detroit Public Schools have faced turmoil in recent years, as declining enrollment and the expansion of charter schools have led to mass school closures and severe fiscal distress. The city schools, which have been run by the state for a number of years, have some of the worst achievement scores in the country. The state recently passed a package of policies to reduce the district’s debt and return some power to a locally elected board. A federal lawsuit was recently filed arguing that Detroit schools had violated students’ constitutional “right to literacy.” —Matt Barnum

8:51 a.m. Wednesday — Charter-supporting Dems Win Two State Legislative Seats in Northern California: In two California legislative races closely watched by education observers, Democrats supported by charter advocates bested fellow Democrats backed by teachers unions.

In a state Senate district based in San Francisco, Scott Wiener narrowly beat Jane Kim with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Los Angeles Times. The race pitted two candidates with many similarities against each other: both were Democrats and members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. But the candidates appeared to diverge on education, with Wiener receiving backing from the powerful charter lobby and Kim drawing support from the powerful teachers union.

A similar divide played out in other races across the state, which has a relatively unique primary system that allows members of the same party to face each other in the general election. Another such race pitted Mae Torlakson against Tim Grayson for an East San Francisco Bay area Assembly seat. Torlakson, the wife of California’s state superintendent of public instruction, was backed by unions, while Grayson got support from charter advocates. Grayson won easily with over 60 percent of the vote. On his campaign site he pledged to advocage “for non-profit charter schools in regions where they provide a way to ‘tailor’ education to the needs of a community’s student.” —Matt Barnum

8:35 a.m. Wednesday — Evolution Skeptic Wins Re-election to Texas Board of Education: Staunch conservative Ken Mercer narrowly won re-election to the Texas Board of Education, beating his Democratic challenger Rebecca Bell-Metereau. Mercer has made a name for himself for his skepticism of evolution and the Common Core and his support for approving social studies textbook standards that downplayed slavery. This was Bell-Metereau’s third attempt to unseat Mercer. In District 1, Democrat Georgina Perez won, while Republican Donna Bahorich was re-elected in District 6. Republican Keven Ellis easily won a seat on the board in District 9, while Republican Tom Maynard was re-elected to the board in District 10. —Naomi Nix

8:30 a.m. Wednesday – Montana Schools Chief Fails to Nab Historic House Seat: If elected by Montana voters Tuesday, Democrat Denise Juneau would have added a new historic title to her resume: the first Native American woman to serve in Congress. That didn’t happen. Juneau, who was already the first Native American woman elected to statewide office when she became Montana’s superintendent of public instruction in 2008, failed to grab enough votes from Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke. Juneau, an enrolled member of the Mandan Hidatsa tribes and a descendent of the Blackfeet tribe, made education a priority throughout her campaign, focusing largely on teacher recruitment and retention, as rural Montana schools often struggle to attract and keep qualified educators. —Mark Keierleber

8:14 a.m. Wednesday – North Dakota Re-elects Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler: Voters have handed a blowout re-election victory to Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler in North Dakota. According to unofficial results, Baesler defeated challenger Joe Chiang, a ninth-grade teacher, 75-25. Chiang had made news when he signed a pledge to abolish the U.S. Department of Education if elected. North Dakota’s public education system has struggled this year with a statewide teacher shortage, and tougher issues could be ahead for Baesler, as the state faces potential education budget cuts next year because of lagging oil prices. Baesler spent about 23 years with Bismarck Public Schools in teaching and administrative roles before becoming superintendent in 2012. —Mark Keierleber

8:02 a.m. Wednesday — Charter Supporter Ro Khanna Beats Incumbent for California Congressional Seat: In a bitter Congressional race that pitted two Democrats against each other, Ro Khanna ousted incumbent Mike Honda for this Silicon Valley seat. The race was a re-match from 2014, and although education wasn’t a major factor in the election, it was still something of a proxy battle between two factions of the Democratic party: Khanna emphasized his support for charter schools as a way of highlighting his independence, while Honda, a former teacher himself, was endorsed by California teachers unions. Honda may have lost in part because of an ongoing ethics probe into whether he improperly used taxpayer dollars meant for his office staff to fund his 2014 race against Khanna. —Matt Barnum

7:58 a.m. Wednesday — California Approves Bond, Taxes to Build, Improve Schools: California will issue $9 billion in bonds to improve the construction of school facilities for K-12 and community colleges. Proposition 51 passed with 53 percent of the vote, the Associated Press reports. Opponents like Gov. Jerry Brown and the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board argued that the proposition is too expensive. Supporters like the state PTA and school districts say buildings desperately need the money for repairs. Californians also voted to continue taxing the wealthy to bring in $4 to $9 billion for schools and hospitals. Proposition 55 passed, 62 percent to 37 percent, the Associated Press reports. The taxing was set to expire, but the proposition extends it through 2030. Millionaires pay an extra 3 percent in taxes, while single-filers making at least $263,000 and families making at least $526,000 pay an extra 1 percent. —Kate Stringer

7:55 a.m. Wednesday – Oklahoma Voters Reject Initiative to Raise Teacher Pay: Oklahoma teachers will not get a raise. A ballot question to boost teacher salaries lost easily Tuesday, garnering just over 40 percent of the vote.
The initiative, known as Question 779, would have raised the state’s sales tax from 4.5 to 5.5 percent to give every teacher in the state a $5,000 raise. Oklahoma’s teachers are among the worst paid in the country, and their average compensation, adjusted for inflation, has dropped since 2009. The state has faced shortages of certified teachers in recent years, and research has shown that pay is a key factor in recruiting and retaining educators.
Though many states in the country have seen cuts in education spending since the Great Recession, Oklahoma’s have been the deepest: Between 2008 and 2016, state education funding in Oklahoma has dropped by nearly 25 percent.
The ballot question was spearheaded and funded in part by Stand for Children, a national nonprofit that generally promote reform policies like charter schools and accountability measures. The National Education Association — the country’s largest teachers union, which often at loggerheads with Stand for Children — also backed the measure.
Supporters’ ads have showcased teachers arguing that they deserve a raise and that Oklahoma students deserve well-compensated educators. In one commercial, Jon Hazell, the state’s 2016 teacher of the year, says, “Other states recognizes the value and the training and effectiveness of Oklahoma teachers. That’s why they come here and recruit every year and take as many as they can.” The Tulsa World has reported that Oklahoma teachers regularly move to schools in neighboring states like Missouri or Kansas, where the salary is several thousand dollars higher.
Another ad featured country music star Toby Keith endorsing the measure.
Opponents of the tax hike have argued that it amounts to a slush fund for school administrators, pointing out that not all the money raised will go toward teachers and dismissing it as a waste of taxpayer dollars. (Some of the additional revenue will fund pre-k and the state’s higher education office.)
Multiple newspaper editorial boards in the state have also opposed the measure, raising concerns about the increased tax burden. The Oklahoman editorial board wrote, “We believe Oklahoma’s K-12 teachers deserve better pay, and understand proponents’ frustration with the do-nothing Legislature. Yet the permanency of this tax combined with the question’s sweeping approach, its lack of clear reform and its potential to harm Oklahoma’s cities, towns and businesses make [Question] 779 a plan we can’t endorse.”
According to Ballotpedia, backers of the initiative raised over $4 million, while opponents spent virtually nothing. –Matt Barnum

7:45 a.m. Wednesday – Chris Reykdal Holds Narrow Lead in Washington Superintendent Race: Chris Reykdal, a Democratic member of the state House of Representative, holds a 51-49 lead over school administrator Erin Jones in the race for Washington superintendent of public instruction. Reykdal has served as vice chair of the Education Committee and was endorsed by outgoing Superintendent Randy Dorn, who is retiring after eight years. The new superintendent’s biggest challenge is fully funding education, as mandated by the state Supreme Court. –Kate Stringer

7:30 a.m. Wednesday – Three Incumbents Keep Their Seats on Washington Supreme Court: All three Washington Supreme Court justices who were seeking re-election will return to the bench. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent in an attempt to unseat Justice Charlie Wiggins in the wake of a controversial 2015 ruling that declared charter schools unconstitutional, but he easily defeated challenger Dave Larson 58-41. Chief Justice Barbara Madsen bested opponent Greg Zempel in a landslide, 63-36, and Justice Mary Yu easily won over David DeWolf, 58-41. Charter schools will once again come before the court in a case filed this past summer. The court has also been fining the state Legislature $100,000 a day for failing to fully fund public schools. –Kate Stringer

7:15 a.m. Webnesday – Republican Elsie Arntzen Leads in Montana Schools Chief Race: With 77 percent of precincts reporting, Republican state senator and retired teacher Elsie Arntzen holds a significant lead in the race to be Montana’s superintendent of public instruction. She is ahead of Democrat Melissa Romano, who is also a teacher and ran with union support, 52-47. Arntzen is skeptical of the Common Core standards and supportive of school choice and additional counseling services for students. She would be the first Republican superintendent since 1988, replacing Denise Juneau, who was term-limited. Juneau lost her bid last night to become the first Native American member of the House. –Kate Stringer

6:45 a.m. Wednesday – Trump Wins Presidency, Education Policy Aims Remain Hazy: Shocking pundits, financial markets, and Americans of both parties, Donald Trump has been elected the 45th president of the United States.
Trump won the key swing states of North Carolina, Ohio and Florida, as well Rust Belt states he was not expected to win, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Republicans also retained control of the House and Senate.
Trump devoted little time during the campaign to education. He vowed during an October speech to push for some sort of broad education bill covering both K-12 and higher ed during his first 100 days in office. His primary policy proposal during the campaign, a broad school choice plan for poor children, echoed the talking points of choice advocates while falling short on details like which federal funds he’d devote to such a program or how he’d incentivize “inner-city” school districts to adopt smaller-scale programs. –Carolyn Phenicie

4 a.m. Wednesday — North Dakota Decides to Use Oil Tax Revenue for K-12 Education: North Dakota voters easily passed an amendment to the state constitution Tuesday that will create a rainy day fund for K-12 education, the New York Times reported. Known as Measure 2, the proposal was backed by the state’s education and public employee union and changes how the state’s Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund can be used, the Bismarck Tribune reported. The state’s K-12 education budget is currently a little more than $1.8 billion, the Tribune reported. Measure 2 will allow lawmakers to spend money from the new fund on “education-related purposes” so long as 15 percent of K-12’s budget remains in the fund. —Mareesa Nicosia

3:40 a.m. Wednesday — Sen. Pat Toomey, Re-Elected in Pennsylvania: Sen. Pat Toomey, the Republican incumbent in Pennsylvania, has won re-election, according to the Associated Press. Toomey had been polling a few points behind Democratic challenger Katie McGinty; given Pennsylvania’s history of voting for Democrats in presidential years, the Keystone state seemed ripe for a Democratic pickup.

Yet Pennsylvania, like the other swing states across the country, seemed to follow the pattern of straight party voting. Donald Trump pulled ahead in Pennsylvania by about 59,000 votes as of 1:30 a.m., the same time that the AP called the race for Toomey. Other swing states, including North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin, voted for Republican Senate candidates and as well as for Trump — or remained uncalled, with a Trump lead. The Democrats’ only pickup seems likely to be one seat in Illinois. Senate races in New Hampshire and Missouri had yet to be called, though the Republican incumbents were leading in both. As a Senator, Toomey crafted an (unsuccessful) bipartisan compromise on gun control in the wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school, and focused on expanding background checks on teachers. Carolyn Phenicie

3:30 a.m. Wednesday — Three-Term North Carolina Schools Superintendent Ousted by Republican: Mark Johnson, a Republican, appeared to have ousted North Carolina’s three-term incumbent State Superintendent of Public Schools June Atkinson, the New York Times reported. Johnson led Atkinson by one percentage point, with 99 percent of precincts reporting as of 12:52 a.m. Wednesday. Atkinson was the first woman elected to the position and has served since August 2005.

Johnson has pledged to reduce testing and lessen the “bureaucratic demands” on teachers and provide them more and better training opportunities. He has also decried the state’s track record on college readiness — 52 percent of high school graduates entering community college required at least one remedial course, the Charlotte Observer reported—Mareesa Nicosia

3:15 a.m. Wednesday — Georgia Rejects State Intervention in Chronically Failing SchoolsGeorgia voters answered with a resounding “no” to a ballot proposition that would have allowed the state to intervene in schools deemed chronically failing. With nearly all precincts reporting, 60 percent of voters opposed amending the state constitution to give the state the new powers, the New York Times reported.

It was a loss for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who ushered the proposal through the state assembly. Deal had support from education reform groups; opponents included teachers unions, the state PTA, and school boards, for whom the results are a big victory. Gov. Deal and advocates argued that the measure was morally imperative, necessary for improving the lives of tens of thousands of poor Georgia children. Opponents fought what they call bloated bureaucracy and loss of local control. The creation of a statewide Opportunity School District would have made schools that receive an “F” grade from the state for three consecutive years eligible to be transferred to the new district, which could then make significant changes, convert them to charter schools, or close them. As of May, 127 schools were eligible for takeover, including 50 in Atlanta and surrounding DeKalb County. (See The 74’s breakdown of how the constitutional amendment would work)

Georgia would have joined Louisiana, Tennessee, New York, and other states that can assume control of failing schools to varying degrees. —Mareesa Nicosia 

2:30 a.m. Wednesday — Right To-Work Booster Wins Missouri’s Governor Race: Republican political newcomer Eric Greitens has won the Missouri governor’s seat, beating Democratic challenger Chris Koster. Greitens, a former Navy SEAL with no previous political experience, and Koster, a former state senator and current Attorney General, competed in one of the nation’s most expensive campaigns. Regarding education policy, Greitens has said he is open to vouchers and supports curbing unions’ rights with right-to-work legislation. —Naomi Nix

2:20 a.m. Wednesday — Oregon Votes to Guarantee Outdoor Education: Oregon has become the only state to guarantee every child a week of outdoor education, according to polls that show an early lead on Measure 99: 65 percent to 34 percent during early voting, although the race has already called by the Oregonian. The state will use lottery revenue, not to exceed $22 million per year, to fund the camp. Opponents say the measure takes away money from Oregon businesses. —Kate Stringer

2:10 a.m. Wednesday — Oregon Voters Agree to Tackle State’s High School Dropout Rate: Oregon voters are hoping Measure 98 will curb the state’s consistently low graduation rate. Passed 65 percent to 34 percent during early voting, as called by the Oregonian, the measure proposes allocating $800 per high school student to improve the diversity of class offerings and dropout prevention programs. This measure received no organized opposition, though teachers unions called it a one-size-fits-all solution. —Kate Stringer

1:05 a.m. Wednesday — California Brings Back Bilingual Education: Millions of children in California will have greater access to bilingual education, after nearly three-quarters of voters said yes to Proposition 58 in early voting, a race called late Tuesday by the Associated Press. Supporters — like the unions and the Democratic Party — hope the proposition will allow local districts to decide how to educate ELL students as well as expose other students to multiple languages. Research shows bilingual education produces similar results to English-only instruction. English language learners make up one in five students in California.

The proposition overturns a 1998 law which required these students to be placed in English-only classes rather than bilingual ones. While some bilingual programs remained, this measure reduced the number of students who were in bilingual classes from 30 percent to 4 percent. Those opposed include the Republican Party and the businessman who originally created the law limiting bilingual education. While the measure arose in part from immigrant resentment, the LA Times reports, it also sprung from a reaction to schools that failed to adequately teach Spanish-speaking students English, putting them behind for college and career readiness. —Kate Stringer

1 a.m. Wednesday — Results for the New Orleans School Board: With all but a few pockets of votes counted, the three Orleans Parish School Board races that weren’t decided in the summer have been settled. In two races, candidates who enjoyed support from voters opposing the reforms of the last decade as well as proponents of continued change won by wide margins. With 92 percent of votes in, incumbent Nolan Marshall Jr. has 52 percent of the vote in a three-way race for New Orleans’ Seventh District. In the Fourth District, with two-thirds of votes counted, incumbent Leslie Ellison is likely assured a return to the board, which over the next two years will oversee the reunification of the schools currently controlled by the district and the 55 schools overseen by the state and its Recovery School District.

In the most closely watched race, the Sixth District, incumbent Woody Koppel won 53 percent of the vote. His opponent, David Alvarez, had campaigned on an anti-reform platform. The remaining four races were settled weeks ago. Two candidates won outright when they failed to attract challengers. A third won when the incumbent in the district decided to drop out. In the fourth race the incumbent was forced out of the race when a judge ruled she had failed to pay her taxes. The races have been described as one more referendum on New Orleans’ educational experiment. Education advocates in Louisiana and elsewhere were stunned by the lack of a more heated campaign season given the vocal and strident tenor of calls for the return of the schools to local control. —Beth Hawkins

12:55 a.m. Wednesday — Faso Secures Key New York Congressional District Seat: New York’s education reform advocates landed a big victory Tuesday when voters selected state Assemblyman John Faso for an open seat in the state’s 19th congressional district, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal. Faso supports charter schools while his Democratic opponent, Zephyr Teachout, has argued they drain money from traditional public schools for the benefit of private organizations. Faso has argued the federal government overstepped its bounds into local education decisions, and opposed implementation of the Common Core State Standards. —Mark Keierleber

12:50 a.m. Wednesday — Vermont Replaces Outgoing Democratic Governor with Republican: Vermont voters have put Phil Scott in the governor’s seat, the Burlington Free Press reported, with 245 of 275 districts reporting results late Tuesday night. Scott, a Republican, has been lieutenant governor since 2010 and now steps up to succeed outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, who did not run for re-election. Scott beat former state transportation secretary Sue Minter, a Democrat.

Both Minter and Scott have expressed support for preserving Vermont’s school choice initiative, which allows students in school districts that don’t have elementary or high schools to attend schools of their choice in other communities and even states, with the tuition paid by their district. That system may be potentially upset by Act 46, a law that encourages districts to merge to address Vermont’s declining school enrollment and rising costs. During an August debate, Scott said he wants to see the law’s impact on school choice “clarified,” the Burlington Free Press reported. He’s also said he is open to “exploring” a new funding formula for education, but that Vermont must reduce spending first, the paper reported. Former Major League pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee ran on the Liberty Union Party line. —Mareesa Nicosia

12:40 a.m. Wednesday — Gary Herbert, Who Changed Positions on the Common Core, Wins Utah Governor’s Race: Republican Utah Governor Gary Herbert sailed to a re-election victory on Tuesday, beating Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz by a wide margin, according to the Associated Press. Herbert faced criticism of his record on education throughout the Republican primary and general election. Considered a supporter of the Common Core State Standards after they were adopted in 2010, he changed his position during a heated primary campaign against Republican business executive Jonathan Johnson.

Earlier this year, Herbert told the Utah State Board of Education to adopt “uniquely Utah standards.” He also called for a review of the state’s SAGE testing, which was created locally, and for the elimination of the requirement for high school students to take the test. Johnson accused him of flip flopping. In 2014, Herbert commissioned two studies to examine the effectiveness and implementation of Common Core in the state. One report from the Utah Attorney General’s Office rebuffed criticisms of federal overreach in the state’s adoption of the standards, arguing that the state controls what students are taught. Another report, conducted by a state panel, argued that Utah Core Standards were more rigorous than the state’s previous standards. During the general election, Herbert was criticized by Democratic challenger Weinholtz for underfunding local schools in a state that spends less on education per pupil than most other states. Naomi Nix

12:30 a.m. Wednesday — DFER-Backed Candidate Loses Out in Louisiana Senate Race: Caroline Fayard, a lawyer and candidate for U.S. Senate in Louisiana backed by Democrats for Education Reform, was eliminated from contention Tuesday evening. Republican John Kennedy, the state treasurer, looked likely to make the run-off election while the second spot remained too close to call between Republican Charles Boustany and Democrat Foster Campbell, who was endorsed by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. In the state, there is no primary election, and all candidates regardless of party run on the same ballot in November; if no candidate receives a majority, the top two advance to a run-off election in December. —Matt Barnum

12:15 a.m. Wednesday — Democratic, Union-Backed School Board Candidates Win in Minneapolis: Four candidates endorsed by Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) and by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers won election to the city’s school board, three of them by slender margins. The party historically follows the union’s lead, which typically endorses candidates in a sparsely attended convention months before voters tune into the race. Facing token opposition from a perennial dark horse, Kim Ellison won a second term on the board with nearly 80 percent of the vote in the year’s lone citywide contest. Labor organizer Kerry Jo Felder won the seat representing the city’s north side by slightly less than 1 percent. With a four-point lead, music educator Bob Walsh ousted incumbent Josh Reimnitz in the city’s south-central neighborhoods. And nonprofit leader and education college professor Tracine Asberry lost by two points to car-service driver Ira Jourdain. A $74 million-a-year revenue referendum renewal passed handily. —Beth Hawkins

11:55 p.m. Tuesday — Top Democrat on Senate Education Committee Re-ElectedSenator Patty Murray of Washington, currently the top-ranking Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, has won re-election, according to the Associated Press. Murray, a former preschool teacher, pushed to get more early learning opportunities included in the Every Student Succeeds Act. She’s also defended the Education Department’s tough regulations around the new K-12 law’s implementation, in particular the controversial “supplement not supplant” spending rule. Murray’s re-election to a fifth Senate term was considered safe. —Carolyn Phenicie

11:40 p.m. Tuesday — Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, Former Denver Schools Chief, Is Re-Elected: Colorado has re-elected Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Education Committee and the former Denver schools superintendent. Bennet bested Republican Darry Glenn in a contest that was somewhat closer than expected.

Bennet is a strong backer of charter schools and has received support from Democrats for Education Reform. He was the subject of a lengthy profile in The New Yorker in 2007, when he was superintendent. As a member of the Education Committee, Bennet successfully pushed for the creation of a weighted-funding formula pilot — in which money for schools is attached to students, based on need — through the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. On his campaign website, Bennet says he “helped overhaul No Child Left Behind, replacing it with a bipartisan law that returns power and flexibility back to the states and schools while still maintaining accountability.” —Matt Barnum

11:25 p.m. Tuesday — Massachusetts Voters Say No to Charter School Expansion: Massachusetts voters handed a massive defeat to education reformers Tuesday, with voters overwhelmingly choosing to block a ballot initiative to lift a cap on charter school expansion, according to masslive.com. Possibly the most consequential education fight this election cycle, Tuesday’s vote could have huge implications for education reform battles nationally, shifting political capital to teachers unions and their allies.

If approved, Ballot Question 2 would have allowed charter operators to create 12 new or expanded schools each year, anywhere in Massachusetts. Currently, 78 charters serve more than 43,000 students across the Commonwealth. With Question 2 failing to grab the needed support, a cap will continue to limit Massachusetts at 120 charter schools. A cap also limits spending: For this year, funding for charters in the lowest-performing 10 percent of school districts cannot exceed 18 percent of the district’s total net spending. Other districts are unable to spend more than 9 percent of their net spending on charter schools.
In a contest that was considered by some education pundits to be more crucial than the outcome of the presidential race, advocacy groups on both sides of the issue bombarded residents with record-breaking campaign spending. More money — over $38 million — has flowed into this contest than any other ballot initiative in the Commonwealth’s history. Much of that money came from out-of-state donors. The debate over expanding charters in Massachusetts was so fierce, at least in part, because charter schools in Boston have made large gains in reducing the achievement gap between white and black students. In their successful campaign, however, charter opponents argued the schools siphon off money from traditional public schools, lack accountability, and perpetuate inequalities. —Mark Keierleber

11:20 p.m. Tuesday — Charter School Supporters Maintain Control Over Indianapolis School Board: Supporters of charter schools and the current superintendent retained control of the Indianapolis school board, according to the Indianapolis Star. Two incumbents won re-election, as well as one candidate backed by reform supporters in an open seat. One incumbent board member lost an at-large seat on the board.

Four seats on the seven-member board were up for election, which served in some ways as a referendum on the board’s agenda and its superintendent Lewis Ferebee. Three incumbents, as well as a candidate for one open seat, were backed by Stand For Children, a national education reform group that supports expansion of choice and accountability policies. The group helped school board members significantly outraise their challengers. However, several of the challengers received backing from a coalition of local pastors and a group, known as OurIPS, critical of the expansion of charter schools. This drew a sharp rebuke from Ferebee, who wrote in a letter to the editor to the Indianapolis Star, “The idea that [Indianapolis Public Schools] can prosper without embracing change and by being unwilling to partner with others is asinine.” A recent study showed that Indianapolis’ charter schools performed at about the same level as the district’s schools on standardized tests, while private and magnet schools performed worse. —Matt Barnum

11:05 p.m. Tuesday — Glenda Ritz Loses, as Indiana State Superintendent Falls to Republican: Indiana’s state superintendent of public instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat and former school librarian, lost her re-eleciton bid to Republican Jennifer McCormick, a district superintendent. Indiana Public Media reported McCormick won with nearly 54 percent of the vote. Ritz was the only Democrat to lead a state office and spent much of the last four years feuding with Gov. Mike Pence. She campaigned on increasing the availability of preschool, reducing testing, proposing a “fair and adequate” funding formula, treating teachers like professionals, and reaching a 91 percent graduation rate. McCormick supports increasing broadband access in schools, establishing a “meaningful and manageable” assessment system, attracting and retaining teachers, closing the kindergarten readiness gap and reviewing funding problems. —Mareesa Nicosia

10:50 p.m. Tuesday — Oklahoma Voters Reject Initiative to Raise Teacher Pay: Oklahoma teachers will not get a raise. A ballot question to boost teacher salaries lost easily Tuesday, garnering just over 40 percent of the vote. The initiative, known as Question 779, would have raised the state’s sales tax from 4.5 to 5.5 percent to give every teacher in the state a $5,000 raise. Oklahoma’s teachers are among the worst paid in the country, and their average compensation, adjusted for inflation, has dropped since 2009. The state has faced shortages of certified teachers in recent years, and research has shown that pay is a key factor in recruiting and retaining educators. Though many states in the country have seen cuts in education spending since the Great Recession, Oklahoma’s have been the deepest: Between 2008 and 2016, state education funding in Oklahoma has dropped by nearly 25 percent.

The ballot question was spearheaded and funded in part by Stand for Children, a national nonprofit that generally promotes reform policies like charter schools and accountability measures. The National Education Association — the nation’s largest teachers union, which is often at loggerheads with Stand for Children — also backed the measure. Supporters’ ads have showcased teachers arguing that they deserve a raise and that Oklahoma students deserve well-compensated educators. In one commercial, Jon Hazell, the state’s 2016 teacher of the year, says, “Other states recognizes the value and the training and effectiveness of Oklahoma teachers. That’s why they come here and recruit every year and take as many as they can.” The Tulsa World has reported that Oklahoma teachers regularly move to schools in neighboring states like Missouri or Kansas, where the salary is several thousand dollars higher. Another ad featured country music star Toby Keith endorsing the measure.

Opponents of the tax hike have argued that it amounts to a slush fund for school administrators, pointing out that not all the money will go to teachers and dismissing it as a waste of taxpayer dollars. (Some of the additional revenue will fund pre-K and the state’s higher education office.) Multiple newspaper editorial boards in the state have also opposed the measure, raising concerns about the increased tax burden. According to Ballotpedia, backers of the initiative raised over $4 million, while opponents spent virtually nothing. —Matt Barnum

10:35 p.m. Tuesday — North Carolina Republican Richard Burr Is Re-Elected: Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina has won re-election, according to the Associated Press. Burr, a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was in a tight contest with former state Rep. Deborah Ross. His victory came as a wave of returns across the country showed bigger wins than expected for Republicans, particularly at the presidential level. Republicans also won closely contested Senate races in Florida and Indiana. —Carolyn Phenicie

10:25 p.m. Tuesday — Democrat Jim Justice Is the New Governor of West Virginia: The Associated Press reports that Democrat Jim Justice has beat his Republican opponent, state Senate president Bill Cole, to become the next governor of West Virginia. The state is one of a handful that don’t have charter schools. Cole pushed in 2015 to allow the creation of 10 charter schools, but Justice does not support them. — Naomi Nix

10 p.m. Tuesday — Paul. Scott. Isakson. 3 Key Senate HELP Members Are Re-Elected: Senate Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Johnny Isakson of Georgia have won re-election, according to the Associated Press. All three sit on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Paul, an erstwhile presidential candidate, has argued for abolishing the Education Department and pushed to end federal involvement in the Common Core State Standards. Isakson was an author of the original No Child Left Behind law when he was a House member, and this fall worked on a compromise with top committee Democrat Patty Murray on early childhood education. Scott has been a big proponent of school choice. —Carolyn Phenicie

9:30 p.m. Tuesday — Indiana Elects Republican Eric Holcomb as Governor: Voters in Indiana have selected Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb to replace Gov. Mike Pence, according to the Associated Press. Pence gave up his shot for re-election to run as Donald Trump’s vice president. Holcomb beat out former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg, a Democrat who made education a staple in his campaign. Throughout the campaign, Holcomb has worked to distance himself from Indiana’s previous Republican governors, Pence and Mitch Daniels, promising to steer clear of loud political fights with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, the only Democrat to lead a state office. Along with calls to replace the maligned state ISTEP test, Holcomb has maintained support for Indiana’s school choice programs, including charter schools and vouchers. —Mark Keierleber

8:40 p.m. Tuesday — Senate HELP Committee Member Mark Kirk Loses Seat to Tammy Duckworth: Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois has lost his re-election bid to Rep. Tammy Duckworth, according CNN. Kirk, a moderate Republican, pushed unsuccessfully during Senate debate on the Every Student Succeeds Act for an “accountability dashboard” that would have made states develop and report on access to measures like quality teachers, advanced courses, and health resources. It was widely expected that a Republican probably couldn’t keep the Senate seat (once held by Barack Obama) in the Democratic-leaning state. — Carolyn Phenicie

8:15 p.m. Tuesday — Democrat John Carney, the New Governor of Delaware: The New York Times projects that Democratic Rep. John Carney has won the governor’s seat in Delaware, beating Republican state Sen. Colin Bonini. That result was no surprise; what is less predictable is the direction the state will take on education. Outgoing Gov. Jack Markell has been staunch supporter of the Common Core State Standards and vetoed opt-out legislation, but Carney has said the state should take advantage of the flexibility offered by the Every Student Succeeds Act on testing. —Naomi Nix

7:50 p.m. Tuesday — AP Says Republican Senator Rob Portman Is Re-Elected in Ohio: Portman’s Democratic challenger, former Gov. Ted Strickland, had attracted most of the attention from the education world as of late after making controversial comments about charter schools at the end of a campaign that went downhill quickly. “We have seen Ohio taxpayers raped by the charter school for-profit entities in this state and the e-schools. It’s shameful, it is shameful. It’s an embarrassment,” Strickland said at a candidate forum, Politico reported. “If it’s not illegal theft, it’s moral theft of public resources. And I think thousands of our young people have been deprived of the opportunity to get a decent education because of the power of the charter school lobby in this state.” Strickland later said he regretted using the word “raped” but said he still condemned Ohio’s failure to regulate for-profit and online charters, according to Cleveland.com. Some political observers thought the Buckeye Senate seat might be a pickup for Democrats in their effort to re-take control of the chamber. Strickland was generally popular and led Portman in polls for a year, according to the Columbus Dispatch. But it wasn’t enough to overcome a deluge of outside spending against him. The Democratic national party pulled support earlier in the fall. —Carolyn Phenicie

7:15 p.m. Tuesday — Preview of Minneapolis School Board Race: Following weeks of long lines at early-voting centers, supporters of eight candidates vying for four seats on the Minneapolis School Board this afternoon made last minute get-out-the-vote pushes for their candidates and for the renewal of the district’s existing $74 million levy. One-term veteran Kim Ellison, who is moving from a geographic seat representing the city’s northern quadrant to a city-wide seat, faces token opposition from perennial dark horse Doug Mann. In two other races, the local unit of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) and the district’s teacher unions are attempting to unseat two first-term incumbents.

The races are being closely watched in part because of increasing unhappiness with the DFL endorsing process which, in a one-party city, frequently decides the race months before balloting begins. In an attempt to crack the juggernaut, a number of community groups held candidate forums. Of the party slate, the city’s largest newspaper, the Star Tribune, endorsed only EllisonThough the levy is likely to pass, some Minneapolis Public Schools teachers protested its renewal earlier in the fall, calling for a “no” vote because the current board chose not to seek an increase. The last time a referendum appeared on the ballot eight years ago, residents were told the money would be used to keep class sizes down. But because of ongoing state funding cuts, that hasn’t happened. —Beth Hawkins

6:50 p.m. Tuesday — UPDATE…Trump Files Nevada Lawsuit: A Clark County judge refused the Trump campaign’s request to impound ballots while the campaign pursued a complaint alleging that some Nevada polling stations had remained open after they were scheduled to close during early voting. Judge Gloria Slurman found the request defective on several grounds, chiding Trump’s lawyers for wanting poll workers’ personal information. “I am not going to issue any order,” Sturman said. “I am not going to do that.” (Courtroom video of the exchange has gone viral on Twitter) —David Cantor

5:15 p.m. Tuesday — Nine Close Senate Races to Watch Tonight: Most Americans’ attention is on the Clinton-Trump contest, but voters across the country will also decide pivotal races for U.S. Senate today. The party that controls Congress’ upper chamber will have a key role in approving a Supreme Court nominee (who could decide key education cases) and a new secretary of education, as well as continuing oversight of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Here are the education implications of nine key Senate contests being decided this evening:
1. Arizona — Longtime Republican Sen. John McCain faces Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. McCain recently sponsored a bill that would expand state-run education savings accounts to Native American children attending federally run Bureau of Indian Education schools. A Senate committee approved the bill on a partisan vote in September, but it isn’t expected to advance any further through the legislative process. McCain has had a lead in most polls.

2. Florida — Sen. Marco Rubio, who made a last-minute decision to seek re-election after his failed presidential bid, is running against Rep. Patrick Murphy. Rubio has been ahead in most recent polls, though only by a few points, and most observers still consider the race a toss-up. Rubio has authored several higher-education bills, advocating for a program that would let private individuals and companies pay for a student’s college education in exchange for a certain percent of the student’s post-graduation earnings. Rubio didn’t vote on the final compromise version of the Every Student Succeeds Act, but he had opposed the Senate’s bill. (Check out Rubio’s interview with The 74’s Editor-in-Chief Campbell Brown during his presidential primary run last year.) Murphy, too, has sponsored bills in the higher education realm, focusing on income-based student loan repayments and transparency on student loans. He voted for the Every Student Succeeds Act.

3. Indiana – Former Sen. Evan Bayh, a Democrat, is challenging Republican Rep. Todd Young for this open seat. Bayh served in the Senate from 1999 to 2010. His family of longtime politicos has long been popular in the Hoosier State, but Bayh is widely seen as having run a weak campaign, blowing what had been a seven-point lead to fall slightly behind Young in this very close contest. Young sponsored a House companion bill to Rubio’s proposal that would allow for income-sharing agreements to fund higher education.

4. Missouri – Incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Blunt has faced a surprisingly strong challenge from Democrat Jason Kander, an Iraqi War veteran and the Missouri secretary of state. Blunt is chairman of the subcommittee that doles out federal funding for education programs and for three years was president of Southwest Baptist University. As a state legislator, Kander voted to expand charter schools. Most polls show Blunt ahead, but only by about a point, on average.

5. New Hampshire – Incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the Republican, is being challenged by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. During her first term in the Senate, Ayotte co-sponsored about two dozen education-related bills — including some with Sen. Tim Kaine, currently the Democratic vice presidential nominee. She also sponsored an amendment to the Every Student Succeeds Act to let schools use federal dollars for mental health programs. As a governor, Hassan vetoed a bill that would have overturned the Common Core State Standards. Her campaign website also notes that she froze tuition at public colleges in the state, reduced standardized tests in favor of locally designed assessments, and maintained education funding. This race is also very close, with each candidate ahead in various recent polls by very slim margins.

6. Nevada – In the race to fill the seat of retiring Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Republican Rep. Joe Heck faces Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, who previously served as the state’s attorney general. Heck, a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, has sponsored bills to simplify the federal financial aid application. Masto, on her campaign website, praised Nevada legislators for increasing education spending and vowed to oppose any efforts to abolish the federal Education Department. The contest is within two percentage points, with the advantage lately going to Masto. She would be the first Hispanic woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

7. North Carolina – Incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Burr, a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is being challenged by former state Rep. Deborah Ross. Most of the focus has turned to a tight presidential contest and the governor’s race, which has largely focused on HB 2 — the controversial law that would overturn anti-discrimination ordinances protecting LGBT people and require transgender people to use restrooms, including in public schools, that match the gender on their birth certificate. Burr leads in most polls by an average of about two points.

8. Pennsylvania – Democrat Katie McGinty a former aide to Gov. Tom Wolf, is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Education-wise, Toomey has focused primarily on including language in bills that would require federal background checks on teachers and others in schools, and on ending the practice sometimes known as “passing the trash,” which occurs when districts give favorable recommendations to teachers they know have acted inappropriately with students. McGinty, meanwhile, attracted headlines when she inaccurately said she was the first in her family to go to college. She favors universal preschool and curbing college costs, her campaign website sas. McGinty has about a two-point lead in an average of recent polls.

9. Wisconsin – Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican, faces former Sen. Russ Feingold, the Democrat Johnson beat for the seat in 2010. Over the summer, Feingold had a lead of nearly 12 points in some polls, though that’s narrowed to about 3 points. Feingold voted against the final version of the No Child Left Behind law, the only Democrat to do so. Johnson co-sponsored and voted for an amendment to the Every Student Succeeds Act that would allow states to receive federal education funds with no strings attached, often called the “A-Plus Act.” Even though the amendment was defeated, Johnson backed both the Senate version and the final compromise of the bill. —Carolyn Phenicie

5 p.m Tuesday — Preview of New Orleans’ School Board Election: Voters report long lines and wet weather in New Orleans for the first school board election since the return to local control. The Orleans Parish School Board elected today will be tasked with making major decisions about how to govern 55 city schools now overseen by the state and a state turnaround district.

Despite the long struggle over placing power back in the hands of a locally elected school board, which lost it after Hurricane Katrina, only three of the seven seats up for election remain contested.
The lineup in the contested races essentially cleaves between incumbents who support a new Louisiana law that enshrines school autonomy in the mostly charter reunified school districts and challengers who oppose it. All of the candidates are Democrats, though several hold unconventional positions.
In the hottest of the three contested races, David Alvarez seeks to unseat incumbent Woody Koppel. Alvarez is one of three candidates whose campaigns got an 11th-hour assist from an American Federation of Teachers-funded political action committee. The $225,000 expenditure pushed total fundraising in the relatively quiet election to well over $500,000.
There are three candidates in the parish’s Seventh District, where incumbent Nolan Marshall Jr. is expected to win. Under the state’s “Jungle Primary” law he will have to receive 50 percent of the vote plus one in order to win outright tonight. Otherwise the top two vote-getters will move to a runoff that would take place Dec. 12. —Beth Hawkins

4:40 p.m Tuesday — Preview of California’s Proposition 58: This measure aims to overturn a 1998 law stipulating that English language learners must be taught in English-only classes. (See our detailed coverage: How Prop 58 Could Change California Classrooms) Advocates hope the measure will give districts control over how best to educate the state’s 1.5 million ELL students, and give non-native speakers more exposure to other languages. The proposition is supported by unions, civil rights groups, and the Democratic Party. It is opposed by Republicans, including a Silicon Valley software developer who funded the original 1998 initiative. —Kate Stringer 

4:10 p.m Tuesday — Preview of Oregon’s Measure 98: In response to Oregon’s persistently low graduation rate, Measure 98 would allocate $800 per high school student for dropout prevention, college-level courses, and career and technical education. Advocates are focusing on secondary students because younger grades already receive more money in Oregon and score well on national tests.
Education advocacy group Stand for Children is pushing the measure, which is also backed by both candidates for governor. There is no organized opposition campaign, though the state’s teachers union criticizes it as a one-size fits all remedy. Other critics say there may not be money for the program. —Kate Stringer

3:45 p.m Tuesday — Preview of North Carolina Senate Race: North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is facing a tough battle for re-election against former state Rep. Deborah Ross. The North Carolina seat is one of a handful that could decide control of the Senate, now held by the GOP, and how much of an agenda – in education and elsewhere – the next president can advance. Democrats are widely expected to win the seat currently held by Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, also a member of the HELP Committee. To re-take control of the Senate, the Democrats need to win four more of the eight seats currently considered “toss-ups” if Hillary Clinton is elected president, or five if Donald Trump wins. A Senate controlled by the opposite party of the president likely would block Clinton’s free college tuition proposal, for example, or Trump’s sweeping K-12 school choice proposal. —Carolyn Phenicie

3:15 p.m Tuesday — Preview of the Missouri Governor’s Race: Going into Election Day, the race to succeed Democrat Jay Nixon as governor of Missouri remained a toss-up. A poll conducted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the end of October showed that Democrat Chris Koster, the state attorney general, had a one percentage point lead over Republican Eric Greitens, which fell within the poll’s plus or minus four-point margin of error.

What’s more clear is that the race’s outcome could have significant implications on education policy in the state. Under Missouri law, students in unaccredited districts can attend school in other regions on their home district’s tab. The law became controversial after hundreds of students used what could be considered vouchers to flee the failing Riverview Gardens and Normandy school districts for higher-performing schools in the suburbs. (See our previous coverage of the vouchers: Missouri Families in Michael Brown’s High School Face a Hard Choice)

Lawmakers have passed legislation aiming to expand the educational options of students in unaccredited schools but limit the amount of money unaccredited districts would have to pay for them to attend another school. Nixon vetoed the legislation twice because it did not include a tuition cap and failed, he said, to solve the problems facing poor-performing districts. He called it a “mandated voucher scheme” that burdened districts who were doing a good job. Asked by St. Louis Public Radio whether he would have signed the legislation, Koster, the Democrat, said he would have looked at it but in general he does not favor vouchers. Greitens, the Republican, said he was open to it.

“I think it’s terrible for any politician to take something off of the table for political reasons that might actually help our kids,” he told the station. “If it’s going to work for our kids, then you need to give it a shot.”

Another significant issue this campaign season has been union rights. Republicans have been trying to turn Missouri into a right-to-work state for years. While they had enough votes to send a bill to the governor’s desk, they didn’t have enough to block a veto from Nixon. Greitens has vowed to sign a right-to-work bill while Koster has said he would veto it. —Naomi Nix

2:50 p.m Tuesday — Can Democrats Make Inroads on Conservative Texas School Board? In Texas’s District 5, the battle lines over education could not be more clear. Republican Ken Mercer is fighting to keep his seat on the Texas State Board of Education against Democratic challenger Rebecca Bell-Metereau. At stake in this race, and others across the state, is the political makeup of the right-leaning, 15-member board.

Mercer has been a champion of socially conservative views on education since his 2006 election. In a 2008 op-ed, the college biology major attempted to debunk the contemporary theory of evolution (he says he believes in “microevolution”) and later pushed for a requirement that students be taught the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories. He proudly boasts of his opposition to Common Core and said that a group of school teachers got a “well-deserved spanking” when the board rejected their proposed curriculum.
In 2010, he voted with the board majority to approve social-studies textbook standards that downplayed slavery as a cause of the Civil War and emphasized Christian influences in the nation’s founding.

Bell-Metereau’s, a Fulbright scholar and professor of English at Texas State University, is running against the “culture wars” that she said Mercer has perpetuated while in office. Local reporters say Mercer has dialed down his extreme rhetoric in recent years, but Bell-Metereau still thinks his views will be a political liability come election time. “I think that (Mercer) has continued to be a solid vote for the most extreme and misguided decisions,” Bell-Metereau told the San Antonio Express-News. “He’s still pushing for a vision of public education that is really contrary to how we were founded as a nation, the idea that free public education was the backbone of our nation.”

This is Bell-Metereau’s third attempt to unseat Mercer. She lost to him by nine percentage points in 2012 and by more than 23 points in 2010. While that may look like progress to her supporters, the outcome of the race will likely be determined by local turnout for the presidential election. Libertarian Ricardo Perkins is also running.

Texas School Board districts are often drawn up to be friendly to incumbents but there are several Democrats who hope dissatisfaction with Trump will fuel an upset in normally Republican territories. In District 6, an openly gay Democratic candidate Dakota Carter is running against libertarian Whitney Bilyeu and Republican incumbent Donna Bahorich. In District 10, Democrat Judy Jennings of Austin faces Republican incumbent Tom Maynard. In District 9, Republican Kevin Ellis, Democrat Amanda Rudolph and Libertarian Anastasia Wilford are seeking to replace Republican Thomas Ratliff. —Naomi Nix

2:15 p.m Tuesday — Massachusetts Congressman Announces Last-Minute Support of Ballot Question 2: Better late than never. As Massachusetts voters took to the polls this morning to decide the fate of charter school expansion in the Commonwealth, Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat, announced at about noon he supports Ballot Question 2.

“Voting no is for the status quo, but clearly the status quo hasn’t worked,” Moulton said in a press release from the Yes on 2 campaign. “It hasn’t done enough for our kids, and it hasn’t changed the minds of our politicians. I believe voting yes has the potential to do both.”
If passed, the initiative would allow charter operators to create 12 new or expanded schools each year anywhere in Massachusetts. Current law sets a cap at 120 schools and limits spending. Moulton’s last-minute endorsement is noteworthy primarily because it furthers a division within the Democratic party over the vote. Moulton’s endorsement pits him against such high-profile progressives as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Boston Mayor Marty Wash. However, he also joins a group of prominent Democrats, including U.S. Education Secretary John King, who support lifting the cap. — Mark Keierleber

1 p.m Tuesday — Trump Campaign Files Lawsuit in Nevada: Donald Trump’s campaign has filed a lawsuit in Nevada alleging that officials allowed people to vote after the polls closed during early voting across the state, reports NBC.

Under Nevada law, people who are in line before the polls close are allowed to cast their ballot. But according to NBC, Trump’s lawsuit alleges that even those voters who joined lines after the polls had closed were still allowed to cast a ballot.

11:45 a.m. Tuesday — Preview of Georgia’s ‘Opportunity School District’ Ballot Question: Georgia voters will decide today whether to allow state intervention in schools that are deemed chronically failing, through the creation of a statewide Opportunity School District.

If the proposed constitutional amendment, Amendment 1, is approved, struggling schools that receive an “F” grade from the state for three consecutive years could be transferred to the new district, which could then make changes, convert them to charter schools, or close them. As of May, 127 schools were eligible for takeover, including 50 in Atlanta and surrounding DeKalb County. (See our previous breakdown of how the constitutional amendment would work)
The proposition has pitted Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and education reform groups against teachers unions, the state PTA, and school boards. The governor, who would appoint the Opportunity District’s superintendent, and his supporters argue that the measure is a moral imperative to improve the lives of tens of thousands of Georgia children. Opponents are fighting what they call bloated bureaucracy, additional costs, and loss of local control.
If the amendment passes, Georgia would join Louisiana, Tennessee, New York, and other states that can assume control of failing schools to varying degrees. —Mareesa Nicosia 

10:40 a.m. Tuesday — Preview of New York State Senate Race: With Democrats battling to regain a majority in the New York State Senate, legislative control could come down to a handful of hotly contested races on Long Island, including the re-election bid of Republican incumbent Sen. Carl Marcellino, the Education Committee chairman.

Democratic challenger Jim Gaughran, the Suffolk County Water Authority chairman, has become a champion among opponents of the Common Core State Standards and charter schools, claiming that “career politicians” in Albany have demanded “more time be spent on testing than teaching.” Last spring, Marcellino’s district became central to the opt-out movement in New York, with about half of third- through eighth-grade students refusing to take state math and English exams. Gaughran has also charged that Senate Republicans have directed money from public schools to “for-profit charter schools” that are not required to follow the same rules.
Marcellino, a former New York City teacher and administrator who was first elected to the Senate in 1995, has voted to increase the number of charter schools and to evaluate teachers based on student performance. –Mark Keierleber

9:30 a.m. Tuesday — Preview of Montana’s Historic House Race: Carolyn Phenicie has been monitoring Denise Juneau’s campaign for a couple weeks now: The first Native American woman in the country elected to statewide office, Juneau was elected as Montana’s superintendent of public instruction in 2008. If she wins her race today for Montana’s sole House seat, she would not only break a two-decade Republican lock on the post, but would become the first Native American woman to serve in Congress if she wins her current contest. Read our 74 profile, and see the latest news about the race in the Missoulian. —Steve Snyder

7:30 a.m. Tuesday — Final Clinton-Trump Poll Shows Widening Education Divide: Leading the NBC Nightly News last night, a snapshot of the final NBC/WSJ poll, which showed significant movement in the number of college-educated white voters preferring Hillary Clinton.

As Mark Keierleber has previously reported on at The 74, Donald Trump has said he “loves the poorly educated,” and has long recognized the need to appeal to working class white voters — many of them without college degrees — but as Chuck Todd explained Monday, the college-educated Clinton swing is bigger than some expected, and may turn out to be the game changer of the election:

6:45 a.m. Tuesday — Preview of Massachusetts’ Question 2: Bay State voters will today decide whether the Commonwealth should lift a cap on charter school growth. More money — over $38 million — has flowed into this close contest than any other ballot initiative in the state’s history. Much of it, especially in support of more charters, from out of state.

The most recent poll did not bode well for pro-charter advocates, with 52 percent saying they planned to vote against Ballot Question 2 and 39 percent saying they favored raising the limit on charters. The poll, released Friday by the Western New England University Polling Institute, seemed to contradict a poll from the week before by The Boston Globe and Suffolk University, which found voters tied — although the margins of error of the two polls were relatively large.

Ballot Question 2 would allow charter operators to create 12 new or expanded schools each year anywhere in Massachusetts. Current law sets a cap at 120 schools and limits spending.

Outcomes from the vote could provide insight into the expansion of charter schools nationally, and advocates on both sides of the debate have waged huge advertising campaigns. Massachusetts’s charter schools statewide have been unremarkable, but in Boston, the schools have made large gains in reducing the achievement gap between white and black students and raised SAT scores. Opponents argue that charter schools siphon off money from district schools, lack accountability, and perpetuate inequalities. (See our previous in-depth coverage about what research shows about the quality of Boston’s charter schools, and the demographic breakdown of those who may vote yes on 2) —Mark Keierleber

Monday — A 2012–14 Flashback: We’re monitoring the top 50 education races of 2016, but first, a quick flashback to six big education votes in previous election cycles that changed the landscape.

In 2014: Washington state voters narrowly passed the Washington Class Size Reduction Measure, Initiative 1351, a ballot initiative to limit class sizes and ramp up hiring of teachers and staff (the following year, Gov. Jay Inslee would sign a law establishing a four-year suspension on implementation of the initiative); Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have expanded gambling at horse racetracks to finance a fund for local public schools; and Nevada residents turned down a proposal that would have created a 2 percent tax on businesses earning more than $1 million to fund public schools.

In 2012: 68 percent of South Dakota voters overturned a law supported by Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard that would have made teacher tenure optional rather than a requirement for school boards, established a statewide teacher-evaluation system and created bonuses for some teachers; Bridgeport, Conn., voters rejected a proposal that would have allowed the mayor to appoint a school board rather than maintain an elected one; and Georgia voters restored a state commission that was empowered to approve the creation of charter schools, rebuffing a state supreme court ruling that the commission was unconstitutional. —Naomi Nix

Monday — Preview of 3 Big Colorado Races: Many eyes will be on Colorado Tuesday night, as the perennial presidential swing state decides where to bestow its nine electoral votes. But further down the ballot are a number of important races that are likely to affect education in the state.

Colorado Senate: Perhaps most important for statewide education policy is control of the Colorado Senate. Republicans currently hold the chamber, but Chalkbeat Colorado reports that if Democrats retake power, it could mean more money for education, a less hospitable environment for charter schools, and a greater likelihood of retaining the PARCC exam, which is tied to the Common Core standards.
State Board of Education: Meanwhile, education observers are closely watching races for the state board of education, which is composed of seven members in areas corresponding with congressional districts. Four Republicans and three Democrats currently sit on the board; their votes don’t always split along partisan lines. Three seats are on the ballot, but the key race is in the Denver suburbs, where both teachers unions and school-reform groups are backing a Democrat who is hoping to unseat a Republican incumbent. This could give Democrats control of the board.
U.S. Senate: Finally, the marquee matchup (outside of the presidential election) pits an incumbent Democrat, Sen. Michael Bennet against Republican challenger Darryl Glenn. Bennet, who previously was the superintendent of Denver Public Schools, currently serves on the U.S. Senate education committee. He has long been supported by Democrats for Education Reform. The seat was initially expected to be a key pickup opportunity for Republicans, but polls show that Bennet is likely to win easily. (Local voters in the state will also decide on a number of bond and tax initiatives to increase school spending — with charter schools getting a cut of that money in some, but not all, districts.) —Matt Barnum

Monday — Welcome to Our EDlection 2016 Live Blog! We’ll be updating with breaking news, vote tallies and social media buzz through midday Wednesday. Please bookmark and refresh — or get alerted to updates at the @The74 Twitter handle. —Steve Snyder


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