Monday, November 19, 2018
Election Day 2018 will long be remembered as a mid-term election with highest voter turnout since 1914. In New York State, and across the nation, the election will also be remembered as a resounding victory for candidates who support public education and organized labor.
Candidates on the ballot here on Long Island who were endorsed by our state union, NYSUT, earned major victories in elections as follows:
- 1 of 1 for United States Senate
- 1 of 1 for New York Attorney General
- 1 of 1 for New York Comptroller
- 2 of 4 for the United States House of Representatives
- 5 of 7 for the New York State Senate
- 19 of 21 for the New York State Assembly
One of the most positive results of the election results in New York is a change in leadership in the New York State Senate. The current leadership in the Senate has been reluctant to address important issues regarding public education, such as the flawed teacher evaluation system, and has sought to funnel more and more tax payer dollars into private charter schools. With new leadership taking over in 2019, teachers can look forward to great improvements in these areas and a state congress that better understands and appreciates public education.
On a national level, the election resulted in changes in leadership in the House of Representatives that could lead to increased oversight on current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Since taking over the position, DeVos has come under political fire for decisions such as her recommendation to cut the U.S. Department of Education's budget, support for training and arming teachers with guns in schools and her choice to remove guidelines that expanded transgender students' access to school facilities.
An article in Education Week spells out all of the areas in which new leadership in the House of Representatives may concern itself with the actions of Betsy DeVos.
State by state voters strongly considered issues concerning public education and unions in this election. In Wisconsin, State Superintendent Tony Evers, defeated two-term Governor Scott Walker in a referendum on Walker's policies. During his time as Governor, Walker made Wisconsin a right-to-work state, supported school choice initiatives that put money into corporate run private schools, and made budget decisions that lead to some $800 million in cuts to K-12 funding. Evers, who was endorsed strongly by the state's teachers' union, has pledged to restore union bargaining rights and make public education a high priority in his administration.
NYSUT estimates that its members made over 250,000 phone calls and that several thousand members went door to door canvassing for NYSUT endorsed candidates. Without question, teachers and their unions once again showed that they can be a major power in politics when they band together for the common cause of public education and the strong unions.