Election brings big wins for schools

Election brings big wins for schools

(Ariz.) Arizona voters overwhelmingly rejected a move by the Legislature to broadly expand one of the nation’s already aggressive voucher programs in Tuesday’s election.

Meanwhile, voters in San Diego, California backed by a wide majority a $3.5 billion school bond, despite having already supported significant borrowing by the district twice before since 2008.

And teachers in Oklahoma, where walkouts last spring forced lawmakers to hike salaries, sent two of their own to the state house, part of the wave of some 200 educators that ran for legislative office this year.

The education community, typically aligned with the Democratic Party, will no doubt rejoice in the assumption that Rep. Nancy Pelosi will be appointed Speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives, a development that is tempered by the GOP actually increasing its hold on the U.S. Senate.

In California, the bitter campaign for the job of state schools chief may finally be within the grasp of the supporters of the charter movement. With 93 percent of the precincts reporting, Marshall Tuck, a former executive of Green Dot Schools, holds a narrow lead over Assemblyman Tony Thurmond of 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent.

In another closely watched race in Arizona, GOP’s Frank Riggs has an even slimmer edge over Democrat Kathy Hoffman for state superintendent of schools: 50.1 percent to 49.8 percent.

Regardless of who wins the superintendent seat, Arizona teachers won a big victory with Proposition 305—the measure repealing legislation that expanded the state’s voucher program.

Last year, lawmakers pushed through legislation with the governor’s support that offered state-supported K-12 scholarships to all 1.1 million students in the public schools by 2022.

The voucher program helped ignite teacher unrest earlier this year and drove Democratic turnout statewide Tuesday.

One of the key issues surrounding Prop. 305 is its actual ballot wording, because a yes vote would maintain the new voucher program, while voting no would repeal it. Some pundits worried that voters would be confused and end up approving the measure.

Not so. With 99 percent of the vote counted, 62 percent of the electorate voted no with 39 percent on the yes side.

Among the biggest bond measures on the ballot anywhere Tuesday was the $3.5 billion that San Diego Unified has put on the ballot.

District administrators say they need the money to make safety and security improvements, as well as to upgrade classroom facilities and technology. Among the projects the bond would pay for is new administrative offices, joint-use athletic fields, new performing arts theaters, as well as facilities to support marine science, language and health science education.

With 67 percent of the vote counted, 62 percent of voters supported the borrowing to 39 percent against.

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