Superintendent Races Drawing More Attention, Campaign Dollars A voter fills in her ballot at a school cafeteria being used as a polling location on election day in McLean, Virginia. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty)
By Eric Mack | Wednesday, 14 September 2022 12:15 PM EDT
State superintendent races used to be a bit off the political radar until COVID-19 lockdowns happened.
Now, big dollars are being spent on campaigns, especially by Democrats seeking to beat back Republicans' push for parents and voters to have more say in their children's education.
Conservative states are moving to retake state government offices that conservatives like former President Donald Trump, Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin, and Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis strongly believe are a line of defense against liberal indoctrination in the public school system by powerful teacher's unions that heavily fund Democrat campaigns.
Most superintendents are appointed by governors or education boards, but a few states let the voters decide who oversees the billions in public funding – and those are attractive larger campaign dollars and Trump's political cachet.
"We are in a time where the issues that impact education are seeing a higher profile — and that is impacting a whole host of electoral circumstances," National Association of State Boards of Education chief Paolo DeMaria told Politico. "If I am running in a state and I know that to win I have to accumulate a certain number of votes, then that goes into the platform-setting and the representations that are made.
"But the ultimate question is how will you influence the overall success of each child in your state."
Youngkin ran on parent's rights in education and now Democrats are responding to the movement.
Polling in battleground states this summer showed voters of color and parents are far more likely to trust Republicans on education policy, according to Politico.
Notably, blue states keep the superintendent decision in the hands of bureaucrats and not voters. California is the lone blue state with a superintendent election this year.
Politico broke down six red states that will allow democracy to decide superintendents – and the course of education for parents – in November:
- South Carolina