'We're Bringing Education Back': Takeaways From The Election Here's a look at how the midterms changed a key component of education policy: state government.

'We're Bringing Education Back': Takeaways From The Election

LA Johnson/NPR
The midterm elections were on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
LA Johnson/NPR

Hello! We know there's a lot of news out there, but we're bringing you an education-centric take on the midterms, with big results in some key states.


Arizona is one of five states that saw teacher walkouts this past spring. After a grassroots group of public school supporters put it on the ballot, what would have been the nation's broadest school voucher expansion was overturned Tuesday 2-to-1 by popular referendum.

Arizona has been considered a model state by school choice advocates, so the rebuke is a notable shift.

Republican Doug Ducey, a school choice advocate, retained the governorship. He helped end the walkout with a pledge to boost educators' salaries by 20 percent by 2020. But Ducey has also promised a tax cut, so it's unclear where the money will come from.


Another teacher walkout state; still, voters nixed a $1.6 billion tax hike for public education.

Jared Polis, the new Democratic governor, founded two charter schools. He's proposed the that Colorado needs to "end decades of shameful underinvestment in our public schools" and wants to stabilize and equalize school funding in the state.

Polis, who has two children with his partner, is also the country's first openly gay governor.


Jahana Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, became the first black woman to represent the Nutmeg State in Congress. "This history teacher is making history," she told reporters on Tuesday.


Democrat J.B. Pritzker, a wealthy venture capitalist, won a resounding 15-point victory over incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner. Pritzker's resume includes philanthropic support of early education, like the First Five Years Fund.

Rauner was an original plaintiff in the Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME, which dealt a heavy blow to public employee unions.

He also took heat from teacher unions for his support of school choice and for relaxing teacher certification rules to address a teacher shortage.

Education is a big ongoing political issue here; a new school funding formula is intended to direct more money to poor districts.


The State Supreme Court says school funding in Kansas is unconstitutionally "inadequate." A school shut down is possible if the legislature can't agree on a fix.

During the campaign, Democrat Laura Kelly dubbed herself the "education governor." Gov. Kelly now says she will work to ensure that schools are fully funded.


Half a billion dollars' worth of gambling money is headed for Maryland public schools. The ballot measure passed by almost 90 percent.


Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, a teacher union member with children in public schools, is moving to the governor's residence here.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a a statement: "Gretchen Whitmer walks the walk for kids, for teachers and for working families because she's one of us." All of this in Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's home state, where the Republican DeVos family has spent millions of dollars in support of school choice.

On Whitmer's docket is expanding access to pre-K and rebuilding Detroit's public schools.

New Jersey

A half-billion chunk of change via bonds will go toward vocational, career and technical education, as well as school water infrastructure and school security.

New Mexico

Democratic Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned on remaking the school accountability system and ditching the state PARCC test in favor of less testing time.

She backed more money for teachers, more preK and career education, more attention to Native education, and promised to improve the state's high school graduation rate, currently in 49th place. School funding bond issues passed here Tuesday as well.


In another walkout state, Republican Kevin Stitt, who painted himself as a friend to schools and promised a bump in teacher pay in the next year's budget, won the governorship.


The state's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Democrat Tony Evers, beat incumbent Scott Walker, attacking him for weakening public sector unions and cutting K12 and higher ed budgets. Evers' schools agenda is to restore investment across the board.

His running mate, former state Rep. Mandela Barnes, told the crowd on election night: "We are bringing education back to the state of Wisconsin."