Special Election 2014 Edition

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Week of November 3, 2014

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Today we have a special Election 2014 edition of the TQ News to take stock of races that are sure to influence education policy in the coming years.

Election Results

School board races are usually relatively local (and low-dollar) affairs as elections go and, typically, teachers’ unions have been the biggest source of both contributions and volunteers. Theprice tag and circle of supporters grewsubstantially in Minneapolis this year. One of the two candidates who were heavily supported by external funding was a winner last night; the other was not. 

A race that usually gets little to no attention, the California Superintendent of Public Instruction was the most expensive and one of the most watched races of the year. Early this morning, the Sacramento Bee reported that Tom Torlakson declared victory over Marshall Tuck. Torlakson’s win is seen as a win for the California Teachers Association, as Tuck was viewed as the outsider “reform” candidate opposed to the incumbent Torlakson, a long-time friend of the union. 

Across the country, teachers’ union came up short in their campaign efforts. Ed Week lays out their wins and loses in senate and gubernatorial races for the record. 

Former Oklahoma State Board of Education member Joy Hofmeister is Oklahoma’s new superintendent of public instruction, beating out Democrat John Cox. During her campaign, according to KJRH, she voiced her disapproval of the current A through F school grading system, saying if elected she would work with legislators and researchers to provide a “measure of accountability” for schools.

Ballot Measures

In Washington, a statewide initiative to reduce K-12 class sizes is too close to call in early returns: 50.6 to 49.4 percent, with the "no" votes slightly ahead. Initiative 1351, shares Northwest Public Radio, would increase funding to decrease average class sizes for all grades, but especially for the youngest students, and hire support staff, such as librarians, counselors, and nurses, giving priority to schools that serve low-income communities. The average kindergarten through third grade class size would drop from 25 to 17 students. Schools where most students are low-income would have just 15 students per class. 

In Missouri, proposed Amendment 3, which would have changed the state’s constitution to include linking student performance to teacher evaluations and tenure attainment, was rejected by the voters. The amendment was soundly defeated with 76 percent of Missourians voting “no” compared to 24 percent who voted “yes,” as KSDK.com reports. 

New York voters have agreed to let the state borrow $2 billion in bond funds so school districts can buy computers, connect to the Internet, improve security and build classrooms for prekindergarten students. Capital New York reports that Proposal 3 passed with 62 percent of the vote with about 80 percent of precincts reporting, despite opposition from conservatives. 

In North Dakota, unofficial results showed Constitutional Amendment 3 failing, with approximately 75 percent of voters saying no, according to Bismarck Tribune. Passed by the Legislature in 2013, the amendment would have replaced the eight-member part-time State Board of Higher Education with a three-member full-time Commission of Higher Education. The new commission would have included at least one private sector individual and one person with an education background.