With Election Day less than a month away, it’s crucial to know exactly who and what you’ll be voting for. Many people don’t place as much value in voting for the midterm elections, but they’re just as important. Voting is a meaningful way to support the issues you care about and elect the state and local representatives you believe can best carry out the changes you want to see. There are almost 150 statewide measures on the ballot, and races going on this year include all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives; one-third of all US senators; 36 state governors; and many city mayors.
Furthermore, it’s imperative to know about education on the ballot because when we vote, we aren’t just talking about our futures, but also those of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. So make sure you’re prepared for the sometimes complex procedures, rules, and logistics in exercising your right to vote, and then do your research to cast a meaningful vote. We’ll help you get started!
Education on the Ballot in 2018
Tens of millions of American children attend the schools and districts that are being reshaped at the state and local levels, so it’s important to be informed about elections in your own state, especially when it comes to education on the ballot.
School Board Elections
Just as we elect the senators and congress members who vote on important policies, we also elect our local school board members. School boards are responsible for representing the respective community’s beliefs and values, and hold substantial influence in preparing children to live productive and happy lives. With this in mind, take an active approach to knowing each candidate’s goals and carefully electing your school board members.
Throughout 2018, 26 states are holding elections for a combined total of 917 school board seats. During the 2015–2016 school year, these districts collectively educated almost 12 million students, which is roughly one-quarter of all public school students in the United States. While some districts’ elections have already happened, over half of them will take place on Election Day, November 6, 2018.
With almost 1,000 seats to fill, it’s impossible to introduce all the candidates here. But please take advantage of the following resources to see who’s running in your state and local district. On either webpage, you can click on any school district to view more about the candidates, selection methods, and results (when available).
Amendments, Bonds, Measures, Propositions, and Questions
Currently, 13 states have education-related measures on the general election ballot. This year, Alabama, Florida, Maine, and Montana have measures on the ballot regarding postsecondary education and student loans. The states below, however, are focusing on K–12 funding, public schools, and the at-risk population.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 305 (Expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Referendum) supports upholding previous legislation that was designed to phase in an expansion that would make all public school students eligible to apply for the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) program. Currently, the ESA program allows parents or guardians of students who have disabilities or meet other specified criteria to 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.
Voting “yes” on Amendment 73 (Establish Income Tax Brackets and Raise Taxes for Education Initiative), formerly known as Initiative 93, supports the establishment of a tax bracket system (rather than a flat tax rate) and raising of the corporate income tax rate as well as taxes for those who earn more than $150,000 annually. If passed, this amendment will also create the Quality Public Education Fund for grades pre-K–12, which would be used to increase per-pupil funding, as well as funding for special education, English language proficiency programs, gifted and talented programs, and preschool.
Voting “yes” on 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.
Voting “yes” on State Bill 2922 (Hawaii Surcharge on Investment Properties to Fund Public Education Amendment) supports 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.
Voting “yes” on Gambling Revenue Dedicated to Education Lockbox 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. If this amendment passes, the Maryland Department of Legislative Services estimates that the general fund expenditures benefitting public schools in the state will increase by $517 million by 2023.
Voting “yes” on 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 career and technical education, and school water infrastructure improvement.
Voting “yes” on Higher Education, Special Schools, and Tribal Schools Bond 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.
Voting “yes” on Nonbinding Opinion Question 1 (10 Cents per Gallon Gas Tax Increase for Education and Local Roads) indicates support for the state legislature 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 from this increase would still go toward transportation projects but would free up additional funding for education.
Wyoming (both proposed as of 10/09/2018)
Voting “yes” on Senate Joint Resolution 3 (Local Districts Responsible for School Facilities and Property Tax Revenue Equalization Amendment) supports making local school districts, not the state, responsible for school facilities. This amendment also would establish local property tax revenue equalization provisions, which would require the state to provide school districts that have low property values with funding that would help them repay school facility bonds.
Voting “yes” on Senate Joint Resolution 4 (Legislative Authority Over School Funding and Revenue for Education Amendment) supports giving legislature sole authority over state education funding, with the consideration of other state funding needs, and prevents courts from ordering the legislature to generate additional revenue for school funding.
How to Register to Vote in Your State
Nearly every state has a different deadline to register to vote, so make sure you’re well aware of your state’s voter registration deadlines. Additionally, while most states have an online registration process, some still require you to mail your information. Visit the official voter registration website of the US government to learn about your state’s voter registration process and get started as soon as possible.
Come November, stay aware of education on the ballot in your state and make sure you’re prepared for your voice to be heard on these issues and other serious matters. Our futures are in our hands!
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.
Ballotpedia. (2018). Education on the ballot. Retrieved from https://ballotpedia.org/Education_on_the_ballot#By_year
Ballotpedia. (2018). School board elections, 2018. Retrieved from https://ballotpedia.org/School_board_elections,_2018
National School Boards Association. (n.d.) What school boards do. Retrieved from https://www.nsba.org/about-us/what-school-boards-do
Reimer, E. (2018, July 12). 4 things to do to be ready to vote in the midterm elections. Forbes.com. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/erichreimer/2018/07/12/four-things-to-do-to-be-ready-to-vote-in-the-midterm-elections/#755ee1a253be
USA.gov. (n.d.) Midterm congressional, state, and local elections. Retrieved from https://www.usa.gov/midterm-state-and-local-elections