Current Events in Education

2016 Governor Races: An Education Focus

With the heated debate about which presidential candidate to vote for (or to not vote in general), Americans aren’t spending the same efforts when considering local elections.  Twelve states will be electing governors: Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.  As of September 7, 2016, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont, and West Virginia were labeled as “toss up” results, meaning that neither party has an advantage.  Regardless of the presidential election outcome, the governor has the ability to drastically affect state education and teachers’ lives.  Additionally, some states have proposed education amendments on the ballots.  This article hopes to bring awareness to local issues, so voters are empowered to make an educated decision.  
Delaware: John Carney (D) recognizes that one of the problems with public education is that teachers are frequently asked to “try new things” and are not given time to develop and adjust to these new approaches.  Carney plans to “beef up” pre-k programs in low-income communities.  For more information about his educational plan, refer to his website.  Colin Bonini (R) is not afraid to upset people with drastic changes in order to save schools.  His education plan is threefold: encourage parent “choice” for school selection, establish a new funding system that has every dollar “follow” a child, and create an accountability system that allows for individual school freedom while providing tougher consequences for poor performing schools.  To learn more, consult his website. There is no education measure on Delaware’s ballot.
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Indiana: John Gregg (D) is a former university president, and he has an extensive plan to address Indiana’s educational needs, ranging from pre-k to post-secondary employment.  According to his website, he has seven goals: create optional preschool for all, return power to teachers in the classroom, reduce costs of public education, align public education standards with current careers, reduce college costs, increase job specific training, and encourage degree advancement.  For more specifics, check out his website. Eric Holcomb (R) has a specific plan for Indiana’s education system.  He hopes to increase Pre-K opportunities for at-risk communities, to establish the best k-12 system in the nation, to retain more quality teachers, to create an affordable college plan for every student, and to establish a system that prepares students for post-school life.  Holcomb details his plan on his website.  There is no education measure on Indiana’s ballot.
Missouri: Attorney General Chris Koster (D) believes that Missouri lawmakers made a mistake by choosing to redefine the education formula.  One of his top priorities is to ensure that all Missouri schools (including universities) are properly funded.  Additionally, Koster plans to focus on expanding early child development opportunities around the state.  For more information, consult his website.  Former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens (R) argues that more money isn’t the answer for better education; he wants Missouri to better use its funds.  Greitens believes that in order for Missourians to receive a top education, students should be allowed to choose better schools and districts should not adopt the common core.  Most importantly, Greiten plans to give power back to local school districts.  Greitens doesn’t mention education on his website, but this website mentions his education stance.  On Missouri’s ballot, Amendment 3 will affect schools.  Amendment 3 (Missouri 60 Cent Cigarette Tax Amendment) proposes to increase taxes on cigarettes by 60 cents per pack by 2020.  Supporters for Amendment 3 say that the money raised through taxes will benefit Missouri schools.  Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis and Mayor Sly James of Kansas City both support the amendment.  Additionally, organizations such as The Alliance for Childhood Education, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Missouri Kids First, and Parents as Teachers back Amendment 3.  However, both candidates for governor (Koster and Greitens), American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Missouri, Missouri National Education Association (MNEA) and Missouri Retired Teachers Association and Public School Personnel oppose Amendment 3.  Their argument is that the fund created by the sales tax will be controlled by unelected bureaucrats, so there’s no guarantee that Missouri schools will benefit from the tax.  President of MNEA, Charles Smith, explained that the funds will mostly benefit religious and private schools and the money will be controlled by a commission who doesn’t have a background in education.  For more arguments from both sides, check out this Ballotpedia site.
Montana: Governor Steve Bullock (D) plans to continue his devotion to education.  During his time in office, he has increased funding for STEM, Dual Enrollment opportunities, and career changing.  His efforts have enhanced early childhood education and reduced financial stress for post-secondary students.  Bullock hopes to continue his efforts for a better education.  Look at his website for more details. Greg Gianforte (R) has been helping Montana students without government resources.  He has helped establish several scholarship opportunities for Montana students: Gianforte Manufacturing Scholarship, ACE Scholarships Montana, and CodeMontana.  Gianforte’s efforts hope to open opportunities for students in low-income communities and encourage more students to pursue careers in computer sciences.  You can learn more by looking at his website. Montana has no education measures on the ballot.
New Hampshire: The campaign of Colin Van Ostern (D) focuses on both higher education and public education.  For higher ed, Van Ostern hopes to encourage more students to further their education by cutting higher ed costs, reducing student debt, and increasing job opportunities.  Van Ostern helped establish College for America at Southern New Hampshire University.  Students at this accredited institution graduate with degrees while limiting or eliminating debt.  His website details College for America’s success.  Additionally, Van Ostern wants to change public education by providing full-day kindergarten opportunities to every community and shifting the focus from standardized tests to Problem-Based Learning.  Chris Sununu (R) believes that schools are most successful when they are tailoring their efforts to their communities.  In order to restore local control and empower teachers, Sununu plans to replace common core with a test created for New Hampshire students and to increase funding for charter schools.  For more details, look at his website.  New Hampshire doesn’t have any ballot measures regarding education.
North Carolina: Roy Cooper (D) plans to prioritize education by undoing the efforts of the current governor.  Cooper believes the present establishment has not funded North Carolina’s schools appropriately.  He hopes to increase respect for North Carolina teachers by raising pay and retaining teacher assistant positions.  Additionally, Cooper wants to have accountability for all government-funded schools (including charter schools).  Read his extensive plan to put students first.  Governor Pat McCrory (R) plans to continue his efforts of strengthening North Carolina’s schools.  On his website, he lists his successes as governor: increased teacher pay, raised high school graduation rate, increased school funding, and made college more affordable for North Carolina students.  His website doesn’t discuss his future plans with education, but in August public schools were asked to cut 2% from their 2017-2019 budgets.  There are no education measures on the North Carolina ballot.
If I haven’t covered your state and you’d like to know more about the candidates and their stances, simply type names followed by “education plan” into a search engine (ex: Joe Smith education plan), and you’ll find several resources.  Exploring the candidate’s home page can help you gage how the candidate prioritizes education.  For education measures, look to  Regardless of stance, remember to vote on Tuesday, November 8th!

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