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EDlection2018: Republican Lee Wins TN Governor’s Race, Will Oversee State’s Ed Reform Legacy

By Carolyn Phenicie | November 6, 2018

Bill Lee (Bill Lee Facebook)

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

Republican Bill Lee, a businessman and first-time candidate, will be elected governor of Tennessee, beating Karl Dean, the former mayor of Nashville, according to NBC News.

(Check out what’s going on in governor’s races across the country on The 74’s liveblog.)

Lee was leading with 62 percent of the vote, with 41 percent of votes tallied as of 8:55 p.m. eastern. He’ll take over stewardship of the Volunteer State’s 16-year bipartisan education reform effort, which has coalesced around the broad themes of tests aligned to high standards and teacher evaluation tied in part to students’ results on those tests.

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As Tennessee Voters Prepare to Elect New Governor, a ‘Pivotal Moment’ for State’s Bipartisan Reforms on School Standards, Teacher Quality, Turnarounds

The state was a first-round winner of a Race to the Top grant under the Obama administration, and saw both successes (a new innovation school district in Memphis and increased teacher support for evaluation systems) and setbacks (failure of the state takeover district to show academic gains for students and troubles with statewide testing systems) in its efforts over the last two governors’ administrations.

“We see the moment we’re in right now as pivotal to determining whether the progress that the state has made is not only going to continue but accelerate. Anytime you have transitions like this, it’s easy to go in a totally different direction or focus on other priorities,” David Mansouri, president of Tennessee SCORE, an education reform advocacy group, told The 74 earlier this fall.

In his campaign, Lee also emphasized career and technical education and worker training, drawing on his experience training employees at his family contracting business. Every student should have some vocational training, he said in a recent ad.

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

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