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States to Watch on November 6: Early Ed in NH, WA, VA and More

Published:  November 1, 2012

The November 6th elections are fast approaching, and in addition to the important implications of the presidential race for students, teachers and education advocates, hundreds of down-ticket races will determine policy across the country.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve highlighted some of these key races for you during our biweekly education podcasts.  Take a look back before the campaigns hit the final stretch!

New Hampshire Governor’s Race: Ovide Lamontagne (R-NH) & Maggie Hassan (D-NH)

The New Hampshire gubernatorial election is wide open – current Governor John Lynch (D-NH) decided to step down this year, and the two candidates competing to take his place are polling very close, with Ovide Lamontagne, a New Hampshire attorney, slightly ahead of former state senate majority leader Maggie Hassan.

A comment that state-mandated kindergarten is linked to larger inmate populations from a local state representative, Rep. Bob Kingsbury, sparked widespread debate. Lamontagne’s only response was that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion.”  But in a Republican primary debate this year, Lamontagne said that he opposes state-mandated kindergarten, instead preferring to leave that decision to school districts. Meanwhile, Hassan has earned the support of the state’s two biggest teachers unions thanks to her opposition to school voucher systems and her opponent’s close ties to other Republican governors (Chris Christie [R-NJ] and Scott Walker [R-WI]) who have cut education spending in their states.

Washington Governor’s Race: Attorney General Rob McKenna (R-WA) & former Rep. Jay Inslee

The Washington governor’s race is another open race, thanks to the resignation of current governor and Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge winner Christine Gregoire. 

Inslee and McKenna both agree on increasing funding for education during their terms in office, a nod to the budget cuts throughout the recession that have left schools struggling to keep up with costs. And neither will raise taxes to increase funding. In a debate earlier this year, McKenna said that he’s found a way to squeeze money from the existing budget to pay for full-day kindergarten and other early learning programs. And Inslee’s website ranks home visitation programs and quality rating and improvement systems as high priority.

Virginia Senate Race: Former Gov. George Allen  (R-VA) &  Former Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA)

The Virginia Senate race is a close race between former governor and former U.S. Senator George Allen and former governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine.  The race is one of the most closely-watched in the country for politicos concerned with flipping the Senate majority – and it should be for education advocates, as well.

An attack ad campaign against George Allen by labor unions cites Kaine’s accomplishments as governor, including expanding pre-K and earning Virginia the title of “best state to raise a child.”  It also accuses Governor Allen of trying to cut funding for public schools as governor. But Crossroads GPS, a political action committee headed by former Bush campaign adviser Karl Rove, charges that Kaine proposed his own education cuts – although FactCheck.org disputes that claim, saying the proposal was a technical, not a substantive one.

A Few More to Watch:

  • San Antonio, TX (Special Election): Mayor Julian Castro has proposed a referendum that, if passed by voters, would provide full-day pre-kindergarten for about 4,000 children and new professional development opportunities for teachers – funded by a 1/8-cent sales tax increase.
  • Idaho (Propositions 1, 2, & 3): Controversial education reforms passed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna face a referendum this November. On the ballot and subject to voters’ choices are teachers’ union bargaining rights, a teacher compensation system that bases pay in part on student test scores, and a plan to grow the use of technology in classrooms.
  • California (Proposition 30): Facing a budget shortfall earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) included tax hikes subject to voters’ approval to support education. That means if voters don’t approve the temporary tax increases, public schools and state colleges will see almost $6 billion in immediate, mid-year spending cuts not unlike the across-the-board sequesters that will be applied to federal spending in January 2013 unless Congress reaches an alternative agreement. 

To keep up with elections and evolving early education policies around the country, sign up for our daily Early Ed News Clips email here.

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