Though the presidential race cliffhanger was taking up most of the political oxygen Tuesday night, there were also important education policy developments in the states. Here’s how four high-profile ballot initiatives fared:
Voters rejected one of the most fiercely contested and expensive ballot initiatives in the nation, which would have allowed for the opening of up to 12 charter schools per year and for the expansion of existing charter schools.
Opponents — including state and national teachers’ unions, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh (D) and Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — had argued that the rapid expansion of charter schools would drain traditional public schools of essential resources. The defeat is the latest in a string of rebukes of the charter school movement, including a recent resolution by the national NAACP calling for a moratorium on new charter schools until there is an assurance of greater accountability and transparency of charters’ fiscal and academic performance.
Voters appear to have rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the state to take over “chronically failing” public schools in a new “Opportunity School District.” Opponents saw the measure, backed by Gov. Nathan Deal (R), as a way to speed the conversion of traditional public schools to public charter schools. A similar state-run district has struggled in Tennessee.
Voters rejected a sales tax increase of one percentage point, which supporters said would generate more than $600 million per year for education. It would have expanded access to early education for poor children from birth to age three and added $5,000 to every teacher’s salary in the state.
Voters were leaning late Tuesday toward approving Proposition 58, which would expand access to bilingual education by repealing a nearly two-decade old mandate that required most children learning English as a second language to learn in an English-only immersion environment. With 18 percent of precincts reporting, 73 percent of voters supported the proposition.