Three states will elect governors in November. Here’s where the frontrunners stand on education.
In the Bluegrass State, Democratic incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear is running against Republican Daniel Cameron, who currently serves as Kentucky’s Attorney General and is the first African American elected to a standalone statewide office in state history.
As governor, Beshear has largely followed the Democrat party line – vetoing conservative policies like prohibiting the teaching of critical race theory, creating restrictions for transgender athletes, and outlawing sex education for elementary students.
Beshear has also opposed school choice in all forms – including public school choice – despite sending his own kids to private school. A list of actions taken by the governor on education is available on his official website.
According to recent National Assessment of Educational Progress data, just under a third of Kentucky’s 4th and 8th graders are proficient in reading. Only 21% of 8th graders are proficient in math.
In response, Cameron has proposed a “Catch-Up Plan” to combat learning loss and improve the school environment.
“Few states suffered longer or more severe school shutdowns than Kentucky under Andy Beshear, who forced the closure of Kentucky schools at the outset of the pandemic and again in the second half of 2020,” Cameron said in his plan. “When Beshear allowed schools to reopen, he enforced draconian and unproven policies that further undermined the learning and social environment inside schools.”
Cameron proposes after-school and summer tutoring programs to help students catch up in core subjects, improve classroom discipline practices, and reduce administrative bloat.
Cameron also supports educational opportunities for families regardless of income or zip code.
“[If Cameron wins] we will have a strong school choice supporter who will be out there pounding the bully pulpit, educating people, making people aware and supporting this,” Jim Waters, president and CEO of the Kentucky-based Bluegrass Institute, told The Lion in July.
“If Andy Beshear wins, he of course was elected largely by the influence of the money of the teachers’ unions, so we know where he’s going to be on this issue,” Waters concluded.
Current polling suggests a tight race between the two candidates, with Beshear having a slight edge.
The gubernatorial election is scheduled to take place on November 7.
In Louisiana, candidates are vying to replace Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who is unable to seek reelection due to term limits.
With a primary set for Oct. 14, the front runners are Republican Jeff Landry, present state Attorney General, and Democrat Shawn Wilson, former Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
Wilson’s education agenda focuses on teachers, early childhood development and higher education.
“The potential of our state’s education system lies between the student and the teacher. We must trust that relationship and support it without limitations,” reads Wilson’s official website.
He plans to raise teacher pay, encourage digital literacy, and “prioritize funding to expand access to high-quality early care and education for children from birth to age three.”
In contrast, Landry is concerned that 74% of Louisiana 4th graders aren’t proficient readers and 80% of 8th graders don’t meet math standards.
“Throwing more money at a broken system that lacks accountability is not the answer,” says his website. “[Landry] knows that parents are the most critical voices in a child’s education.”
The Louisiana gubernatorial general election will take place Nov. 18.
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is running for reelection against Democratic candidate Brandon Presley, one of the state’s Public Service Commissioners and a second cousin of Elvis Presley.
As governor, Reeves signed a bill prohibiting CRT in schools and collaborated with other Republican governors to resist the Biden administration’s reinterpretation of Title IX to include gender identity and sexual orientation.
Although the Mississippi Association of Educators has endorsed the Democratic candidate, Presley, his website does not outline any educational priorities.
“Mississippi educators know that as governor, I will stand with them to fully fund public education so we can position our state towards the economy of the future,” Presley said in June.
Previous polls have shown Reeves leading by a solid margin. The election will take place on November 7.