We are just one week away from the midterm elections and I wish to spend just a little bit of time today in this post to flush out why this midterm election season is so important for education. True, midterm elections are never as sexy or sensational as the years we have to decide on a president but a very strong case could be made for why this midterm election should weigh at least as heavily on our conscious. This year there are are gubernatorial races in thirty-seven states and two territories. Most of these are open seats.
I don't think most people understand the weight the people who will fill these positions will carry with regards to public education. One can think of a Governor as sort of the superintendent of all schools in a state. They get to decide who the commissioners are in the state departments of education. They get to set the agenda for legislation regarding education including school funding. They have veto power for all state-level education policies. Plus, as the chief individual in charge of the public trust and Education spending in most states being one of the top two categories of state spending when you hire someone to serve as your governor they better understand education issues (By the way, we have seen steady growth in Health and Human Services spending and I believe the 08-09 report is the first time in MN I have seen it eclipse education spending).
So, who we elect, what their views on education are, and who they surround themselves with matter greatly. With a solid majority of our states governor seats up for grabs next week the outcome of those races will largely determine the path we take with education reform. What we need to be asking these candidates and what I believe every person (and educators in particular) is how they plan to deal with the budget issues caused by having a disproportionate number of teachers at the top of the pay scale, what they plan on doing by the end of their first term when we will have a projected massive shortage of teachers when this group retires,
how do they plan on dealing with issues of equity in education,
and what purpose does public education serve.
Which of these candidates in Minnesota sound like they have thoroughly thought about these issues, what about candidates in other states?