August 16 2012
Elections and Education Policy
Vicki E. Alger
State—not federal—elections this fall could determine the ongoing direction of education policy. As Education Week reports:
The fate and scope of state education policy changes passed in the last two years may well hinge on a few hotly contested—and precariously balanced—legislatures this fall, in an election cycle that will see 44 states with lawmakers going before the voters.
In states such as Iowa and Wisconsin, where statehouse control is split between Republicans and Democrats, the stakes are immediate and concrete: a chance to extend, or scale back, dramatic changes in areas such as collective bargaining, school choice, and teacher accountability enacted after the GOP wave that swept over states in 2010. …
This election year, 81.3 percent of all state legislative seats, or a total of 6,004 positions, are up for election. … Advocacy groups that are pushing for major overhauls in school policy covering school choice and collective bargaining could pick up key seats even if Republican majorities largely hold. But advocates for school funding boosts may be disappointed, said Dick Carpenter, an associate professor of educational leadership at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs who studies educational leadership.
“We’re not going to see much enthusiasm for increasing spending on something that can take up 40 percent or more of a state budget,” he said.
Parental choice in education, teacher quality, and the influence of unions all have important policy implications, and in the states is where those issues should be decided.