On November 6th, 2018, millions of Americans got in line to vote or drop off their early voting ballot. (And a record number mailed in their ballots early!) As you probably read in many headlines, more than 40 teachers won electoral races to join state legislatures, and for a midterm election, young voters—many of the students you’ve recently taught—turned out in historic numbers to let their voices be heard. Overall, more than 47% of voting-eligible Americans cast their ballots in 2018, the highest midterm voter turnout since 1966. Congratulations and good work to all of you who exercised your right to vote!
However, unless you paid close attention to other states’ local ballot measure races, you may have missed some other major education 2018 election results. Last fall, we summarized these measures to help you better understand what exactly you were voting for, and now we’re covering those K–12 education 2018 election results and how you can prepare your students for the next election.
Education 2018 Election Results
Almost 65% of Arizona voters rejected Proposition 305 (Expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Referendum). This means additional legislation will NOT be phased in to expand eligibility of the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) to all public school students. Instead, ESA program eligibility will remain as is. Parents or guardians of students who have disabilities or meet other specified criteria can still sign a contract to opt out of the public school system and instead receive an ESA, which entitles them to 90% of what the state would have paid for the student in a district or charter school to be used at a school that better meets their needs.
More than 50% of Colorado voters voted no on Amendment 73 (Establish Income Tax Brackets and Raise Taxes for Education Initiative), keeping the tax structure as is. In addition to establishing a tax bracket system, the passing of this amendment would’ve also created the Quality Public Education Fund for grades pre-K–12. However, since the vote didn’t pass, this fund will not be created at this time.
Approved with more than 70% of the votes, the School Sales Tax Referendums Amendment supports giving authorization to a district or group of districts within a county to call for a sales and use tax referendum. (The tax would be 1% and last up to five years.) Revenue from this sales tax would be divided between county districts based either on an agreement or on the ratio of student enrollment of all county districts.
The education measure that appeared on the ballot in Hawaii was deemed invalid by the Hawaii Supreme Court. Although election officials were ordered not to count any votes on State Bill 2922 (Hawaii Surcharge on Investment Properties to Fund Public Education Amendment), election results indicate that the measure would have been rejected by voters. The bill supported the empowerment of the Hawaii State Legislature to enact a surcharge on investment properties, with revenue from the surcharge being earmarked for public education. According to the Hawaii State Teachers Association, Hawaii is the only state in the United States that does not currently use property taxes to fund education.
Maryland voters overwhelmingly supported the Gambling Revenue Dedicated to Education Lockbox Amendment with 89% voting yes. This amendment supports the incremental dedication of gambling revenue to education through 2023 as supplementary funding for early childhood education programs; CTE programs; dual-credit opportunities; educator professional development; facility maintenance; and ensuring access to public education.
New Jersey ✅
With a 52% approval, Public Question 1 (School Projects Bond) supports issuing $500 million in general obligation bonds for project grants related to school security upgrades, vocational schools, college CTE, and school water infrastructure improvement.
New Mexico ✅
More than 65% of New Mexico voters approved the Higher Education, Special Schools, and Tribal Schools Bond. This supports the authorization of the sale and issuance of $136,230,000 in bonds for higher education, special schools, and tribal schools. Projects would include infrastructure improvements, renovations, planning and construction of new buildings, repairs, and demolitions.
Over 65% of voters in Utah voted no on Nonbinding Opinion Question 1 (10 Cents per Gallon Gas Tax Increase for Education and Local Roads). If it had passed, state legislature would’ve been advised to pass a gas tax increase of 10 cents per gallon. Since 1962, all gas tax revenue in Utah has been dedicated to transportation funding, and the additional revenue that would have come from this increase would’ve still gone toward transportation projects but would’ve freed up additional funding for education.
The two Wyoming education ballot measures we summarized back in October 2018 were only proposed at that time. They did not end up being put on the 2018 midterm ballot. If both had made it on the ballot and passed, one—Senate Joint Resolution 3—would have made local districts responsible for school facilities and also established a local property tax that would have required the state to provide school districts that have low property values with funding that would help them repay school facility bonds. The other—Senate Joint Resolution 4—would have given the legislature sole authority over state education funding and prevented courts from ordering the legislature to generate additional revenue for school funding.
Wondering what else went on in education last year? Check out our review of 2018 edtech trends (and what to expect in 2019).
Preparing Students and Yourself for the Next Election
The next nationwide election is less than two years away, and it’s guaranteed to be a big one. In Maryland, social studies teacher Chelsea Ann Hittel strengthened her government curriculum around election time to engage her students and better help them understand what really affects them and what they can act on.
She asked students to investigate local candidates’ positions on the opioid epidemic, which had hit their community hard. Her other project-based unit for the midterms focused more on the history and civics behind voting. Hittel says students responded well to these lessons: “They come in, they’re ready to learn about this stuff, they’re engaged. They’re respectful of one another, and respectful of the issues. That’s what I love about this generation coming up behind me. They really are ready to talk about these things.”
In a midterm follow-up piece written by a student from Johns Hopkins University, you get a real sense of the passion that many young voters are feeling: “We must all do our part to make our voices heard. Do everything you can to make sure you and others can vote, but don’t stop there. Read the news. Volunteer on campaigns. Go canvassing. Join marches. Call your representatives. Some people in this country are counting on our generation to stay silent, apathetic and uninformed. Let’s prove them wrong.” Educating young voters and encouraging them to exercise their right to vote is very important in developing a strong group of future teachers and education advocates.
At this point, it’s too early to tell what will be on the 2020 ballot and who will be running, but it’s never too early to register to vote! (Nor is it too early to encourage the next wave of soon-to-be-18-year-olds to register as well!) Visit the official voter registration website of the United States Government to learn about and get started on your state’s voter registration process.
Other Important Resources:
- Find your state or local election office website for additional voting guidance.
- Learn about public education in your state, including academic performance, funding and spending, and state agencies.
- Read more about relevant education issues in politics.
- Find out how to contact your state senator and be effective in doing so.
- Read more about the US Department of Education’s current laws and policies.
After elections, how can students continue to stay civically engaged? (2018, November 8). The Johns Hopkins News-Letter. Retried from https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2018/11/after-elections-how-can-students-continue-to-stay-civically-engaged
Ballotpedia. (2018). Education on the ballot. Retrieved from https://ballotpedia.org/Education_on_the_ballot#By_year
Domonoske, C. (2018, November 8). A boatload of ballots: Midterm voter turnout hit 50-year high. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2018/11/08/665197690/a-boatload-of-ballots-midterm-voter-turnout-hit-50-year-high
Hansen, C. (2018, November 7). Young voters turned out in historic numbers, early estimates show. U.S. News. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2018-11-07/young-voters-turned-out-in-historic-numbers-early-estimates-show
Lutz, A. (2018, October 10). Education on the ballot 2018: Make your vote count! Where Learning Clicks. Retrieved from https://blog.edgenuity.com/education-on-the-ballot-2018/
Over 170 teachers ran for state office in 2018. Here’s what we know about them. (2018, November 21). Education Week. Retried from: https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/teachers-running-for-state-office.html
Sawchuk, S. (2018, November 6). Midterm elections in the classroom: Local issues and longstanding themes. Education Week. Retried from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2018/11/teaching_the_midterms_Hittel.html