Many major decisions were made in the 2016 election on November 8th—most of which, we are all well aware of. However, unless you paid close attention to other states’ local results, you may have missed what’s to come for the future of education. On National Voter Registration Day, September 27th, we published an article summarizing the 2016 ballot measures that focused on K-12 education issues. Here are those results.
A trio of education proposition approvals befell California when residents voted on Propositions 51, 55, and 58.
Approved with 55.2% of the votes, Proposition 51 (Public School Facility Bonds) will distribute $9 billion in bonds towards improvement and construction of facilities for K-12 schools and community colleges.
Voted in with a 63.3% approval, Proposition 55 (Extension of the Proposition 30 Income Tax Increase) will extend the duration of a 2012 proposition until 2030. (It was originally set to expire at the end of 2018.) This extension will continue the income tax increases on incomes over $250,000 mostly to fund K-12 education, but also community colleges, and, in certain years, healthcare.
Proposition 58 (Non-English Languages Allowed in Public Education) was approved with almost three-quarters of the votes. This proposition will repeal English-only immersion requirements and waiver provisions that were put in place by Proposition 227 in 1998. This repeal means that English-only education will no longer be required for English language learners, and schools will be allowed to develop bilingual education programs in which teachers can speak English and other languages during class.
Almost 60% of Georgia voters rejected Amendment 1 (Authorization of the State Government to Intervene in Failing Local Schools). This rejection means that certain elementary and secondary schools determined to be “chronically failing” will remain under the supervision of local school boards and districts. If the amendment had passed, these schools would’ve been governed by a state-run Opportunity School District. A pass would have also triggered the implementation of Senate Bill 133, which explains different governance models and would have given the Opportunity School District the power to close schools as the “intervention of last resort.”
With a narrow margin of 50.4% to 49.6%, Question 2 (Tax on Incomes Exceeding $200,000 for Public Education) passed and will create an additional 3 percent tax on the portion of any household income that exceeds $200,000 annually. Revenue from the additional tax will go towards public education funding.
Over 60% of Massachusetts voters rejected Question 2 (Authorization of Additional Charter Schools and Charter School Expansion). This rejection maintains the current cap on charter school expansions instead of allowing for the authorization of up to twelve new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools annually.
Voted in with a 63.4% approval, Bond Question C (Capital Expenditures for Higher, Special, and Tribal Education) will allocate certain general obligation bonds towards funding for capital improvements and acquisitions for higher education, special schools, and tribal schools. This measure pertains specifically to the NM School for the Deaf (preschool-12), the NM School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (birth-12), and various state colleges and universities.
In North Dakota, 64.3% of voters approved Constitutional Measure 2 (Allocation of Oil Extraction Taxes). This approval will enable the legislature to allocate excess revenues from oil extraction taxes from the foundation aid stabilization fund to be used for educational purposes. If the measure hadn’t passed, this ability would’ve only been available to the governor.
Almost 60% of Oklahoma voters rejected State Question 779 (One Percent Sales Tax). This rejection means that there will not be a one percent increase in state sales tax to generate an estimated $615 million per year for education funding. Over half of the revenue would have gone towards teacher raises, and the remaining amount would have been divided into grants, early childhood programs, vocation and technology education, and higher education.
Oregon residents doubled up on education measure approvals with support for Measures 98 and 99.
Approved with almost 66% of the votes, Measure 98 (State Funding for Dropout Prevention and College Readiness) will require legislature to fund state-monitored programs in state high schools. In 2013, Oregon had the second lowest public school graduation rate. The approval of this measure will help establish and expand career and technical education programs, college-level educational opportunities, and dropout-prevention strategies.
With 67.1% approval, Oregon voters passed Measure 99 (Outdoor School Lottery Fund). This measure will create an “Outdoor School Education Fund,” financed by state lottery proceeds, to provide all fifth and sixth grade Oregon students the opportunity to attend a weeklong outdoor school program (or an equivalent outdoor education experience).
Prepare for the Next Election
The next nationwide election is less than two years away. Voter turnout always drops off for midterm elections, but these elections are just as important as any other. In the 2018 midterm election, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested. It is too early to tell what the state and local elections will cover, but it is never too early to register to vote!
Visit the official voter registration website of the United States Government to learn about and get started on your state’s voter registration process.
Other Important Resources
- Find your state or local election office website for additional voting guidance.
- Learn about public education in your state, including academic performance, funding and spending, and state agencies.
- Read more about relevant education issues in politics.
- Find out how to effectively contact your state senator.
- Read more about the U.S. Department of Education’s current laws and policies.
Source: “2016 Ballot Measures.” Ballotpedia. 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016. https://ballotpedia.org/2016_ballot_measures.
Source: Desilver, Drew. “Voter turnout always drops off for midterm elections, but why?” Pew Research Center. July 24, 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/24/voter-turnout-always-drops-off-for-midterm-elections-but-why/.
Source: “United States midterm election.” Wikipedia. 2016. Accessed December 8, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_midterm_election.