WASHINGTON - On Election Night, voters across America swept a wave of educators into public office, delivering a decisive win for students and public education. Of the more than 1,800 educators who ran for office this cycle, voters sent to state legislative chambers 1,080 educators. Forty-two races have not been called. This comes in the wake of historic #RedForEd walkouts and school actions this past spring. This means that voters elected slightly more than 58 percent of educators who ran for office this election. Moreover, the number of elected educators represents nearly 15 percent of all state legislative seats in the United States, according to an NEA analysis.
“Last spring educators led the #RedForEd walkouts and this fall they ran for office to continue to demand the public schools our students deserve,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia. “On election night, students won. Now, with this mandate, these educators can begin to turn reverse the damage caused by years of the chronic neglect of the public education system in our country and start to make public students and public education a priority again.”
Bolstered by the #RedForEd walkouts and school actions this spring, educators not only ran for office, they forced a national debate about public education priorities. Recognizing the power of this movement, Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates in particular squared off about public school funding, teacher pay and the teaching and learning conditions during debates. Candidates sought to align themselves with educators, campaigning side-by-side with them and asking them to appear as validators on television commercials. In fact, according to one firm that tracks ad spending, education was the second most mentioned topic by Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates this cycle.
“The election of 2018 was a teachable moment for the #RedForEd movement,” said Eskelsen García. “From coast to coast, educators campaigned on behalf of their students and public education. And voters heard our message loud and clear. They heard that our students need textbooks that are not ancient. That they need music, art, and nurses and counselors in their schools. Students want teachers who do not need two or three jobs to make ends meet. With the wind at our back, the public on our side, and a mandate, we now move forward to the business of governing and delivering on the campaign promises made.”
In addition to the more than 1,000 educators who won, top targeted statewide races in which NEA and its state-level affiliates conducted aggressive member-to-member field and communications program include:
- Wisconsin governor-elect Tony Evers, an educator at the top of a state ticket and defeated Gov. Scott Walker
- Arizona Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema, an educator who defeated Rep. Martha McSally, as well as educator and Arizona Education Association member Kathy Hoffman who was elected Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction
- Republican Brad Little, who has been elected the next Idaho governor
- Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker, who defeated incumbent Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
- Kansas governor-elect Laura Kelly
- Maine Governor-elect Janet Mills
- Michigan governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer
- Minnesota governor-elect Tim Walz, a career-teacher and a member of Education Minnesota, NEA's state-level affiliate
- Minnesota auditor-elect Julie Blaha, an educator and member of Education Minnesota, NEA's state-level affiliate
- Nevada Governor-elect Steve Sisolak
- New Mexico governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham
- New Mexico land commissioner-elect Stephanie Garcia Richard, a member of NEA-New Mexico
- Gov. Tom Wolf (D-Penn.) was re-elected to a second term
NEA and its affiliates worked to flip the state legislative chambers into pro-public education majorities like:
- Colorado state senate
- Connecticut state senate
- Maine state senate
- Minnesota state house
- New Hampshire house and senate
- New York state senate
- Arizona voters soundly defeated the largest voucher expansion in the country; and two races featuring educators there were too close to call with both Kristen Sinema, U.S. Senate candidate, and Kathy Hoffman, Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate, leading in the vote count.
About the NEA analysis
The number of educators running is not exclusive to educators belonging to the state, local or NEA affiliate. Definition of educator is inclusive. For example, this includes current and retired educators, classroom, administration, as well as support staff from K-12 and higher education. In addition, the tracking does not include educators who are running for non-partisan offices such as school board.
- Richard Allen Smith