While not at the top of the ballot, voters decided education issues yesterday in states across the country, including Alabama.
Alabama’s Amendment 4
Most notably, voters rejected Amendment 4 on the ballot with 61% voting against the amendment, with 99% of the precincts reporting. This amendment would have removed provisions that have been held by federal courts to violate the U.S. Constitution and are no longer in effect, but the Alabama Education Association also felt it would remove the right to a public education…
In 2004, voters rejected a similar amendment that would have removed the racist language and ensured the right to public education was maintained. This amendment was defeated due to concerns among conservative Republicans that acknowledging a right to public education would force citizens to pay more in taxes if courts determined the state was violating that right.
With the defeat of Amendment 4 yesterday, nothing happens. The state constitution’s racist language will remain, and that part of the constitution will remain unchanged. It’s possible that political leaders will try again in the future to pass an amendment removing the racial language from the constitution, but it’s unclear where they will find support with conservative Republicans opposing one method, and AEA opposing the other.
Alabama State Board of Education
In South Alabama, Republican Tracy Roberts won her election to the State Board of Education representing District I, replacing Randy McKinney, who decided not to run for reelection after serving for nine years. Roberts has experience serving as chair of the Baldwin County Board of Education, in addition to working as a school volunteer and substitute teacher. She is also a mother of five.
Elsewhere in the state, Republican Jeff Newman, retired Superintendent of Lamar County Schools, was elected in an uncontested SBOE election for District VII in Northeast Alabama. Newman replaces Gary Warren, who decided not to run for reelection. Democrat Ella Bell and Republican Stephanie Bell, representing Districts V and III, respectfully, each won reelection after running unopposed.
Both Roberts and Newman faced their toughest challenges in their primary races last March, when they each defeated candidates running single-issue campaigns on reversing the SBOE’s 2010 decision and 2011 reaffirmation of the Alabama Career and College Ready Standards.
Congratulations to the winners!
Georgia and Washington State Charter School Amendments
Georgia and Washington State each had initiatives on their ballots dealing with public charter schools.
In Georgia, voters overwhelmingly approved the state’s Amendment 1 to create a state-level commission to consider and approve or deny charter school applications. In Georgia, local boards of education can approve charter school applications, and if a local board denies it, applicants can appeal to the State Board of Education. According the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ model law, it’s important for states to have multiple paths to approval for public charter school applicants.
In Washington, Initiative 1240 to allow public charter schools held a slim lead on Wednesday. The initiative would allow for the creation of up to 40 public charter schools in the state over five years. The state has rejected charter school initiatives in three previous elections: 1996, 2000, and 2004.
Voters Decide Education Ballot Initiatives Across the U.S.
Across the country, voters in different states decided on other education reform measures as well as tax increases earmarked for education. Among the states with measures to increase funding for K-12 education, California, Ohio and Oregon voted in favor of their respective measures. Arizona and Missouri both rejected tax increases. Additionally, South Dakota and Idaho rejected reform measures that would have, among other things, instituted merit pay programs for teachers. Florida rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed taxpayer money to be given to religious schools.