January 31st, 2023 1 Minute Read Press Release

New Issue Brief: Governors and the Future of Education Policy

The 2022 midterm results indicate an evolution, not a revolution.

New York, NY – Have national debates over education policy translated into state-level policy proposals? COVID-related closures, student learning loss, critical race theory, school funding, parental choice, college debt, and other issues have captured news cycles, and in a new Manhattan Institute issue brief, senior fellow Andy Smarick analyzes whether they also captured candidates’ agendas.

Using data from 2022 gubernatorial campaigns – and noting differences between incumbents and non-incumbents, Republicans and Democrats, and red, blue, and swing states – Smarick reveals which education issues political hopefuls prioritized, and which issues were embraced by those who won. Smarick finds some overlap among Republican and Democratic candidates, such as shared support for expanding career-and-technical education and increasing K-12 funding. Other issues saw marked partisan differences, such as teacher pay and school choice. Smarick’s other key findings include:

  • Across all states, winners generally embraced more K-12 funding.

  • In blue states, the incoming governors supported traditionally Democratic positions on teacher pay, pre-K, and community colleges.

  • In swing states and red states, school choice and expanded career-and-technical education were the top issues among winners.

Smarick’s findings shed light on November’s non-wave results. While neither party did unusually well – Republicans won almost all red states, Democrats almost all blue states, splitting the swing states – Smarick finds that incumbents succeeded throughout. In the differences among Democrats and among Republicans, Smarick finds that incumbents in both bet on mainstream, bipartisan policies – their centrism seems to have paid off.  

Read the full issue brief here.


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