Election results and education (brief version)

A few cynical thoughts after the 2014 election, focusing on education politics:

  • Get ready for Higher Ed Act and ESEA reauthorization! Er, or not. Wasn’t happening before the election, likely won’t happen in the next two years, either.
  • Ignore “the decline of” chatter, all of which is post-election punditry equivalent of a November 1 candy binge. Well-resourced, politically-oriented groups don’t disappear because they lose a single election, or even several. This holds whether you are talking about teachers unions in general, reformy campaigns in California, or any national political party. “I’ll be back!” may not be true for individual candidates, but “We’ll be back!” is a reasonably good bet for organizations over the medium term.
  • The closest statewide elections in both California and Arizona were the state superintendencies. In both cases, the majority party picked up the downballot race. Yeah, I know, you’d like to talk about the huge money spent in California and the professor-vs.-tea-partier match in Arizona, but at a first glance the dynamics were about tickets. (Update 11/6/14: enough late ballots are still uncounted to make the Arizona superintendent race still uncertain. Douglas is still likely to have her lead confirmed.)
  • State budgets are going to drive a good deal of education policy over the next few years. With a moderately-weak recovery, as well as different policy structures, states are diverging in their budget outlooks. That matters. Just to pick my last two states of residence, Florida was able to put more money into K-12 education in the current fiscal-year budget, while Arizona is struggling and will continue to struggle. The one pundit-oriented conclusion I can endorse for Arizona is that whoever was elected governor was going to have budget woes abosrb all of the oxygen for the next few years. With a court system’s battling with the legislature over K-12 funding, that will dominate discussion in my new state.
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