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The Midterm Election and Education: What to Watch For


Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard that the 2018 election is on Tuesday. So what are the big issues? Which state races should you be paying attention to? What about congressional races? And what will the outcome of the election mean for the Every Student Succeeds Act and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos?

We've got you covered.

• Republicans are expected to retain control of the Senate, although education is playing in some tight races. The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is an especially hot issue in Florida.

• Gun violence is a top issue for 18-and-19 year-olds heading to the polls for the first time this year. Teenagers are more likely to vote if they've had a standalone civics course in school. And about half of them can't name a candidate on the ballot. And they're more likely to look at YouTube than read a news story to get information on a candidate

• If Democrats take the U.S. House of Representatives, DeVos and her team should get ready to raise their right hands and swear under oath. There's going to be a ton of oversight on ESSA, civil rights enforcement, and more.

• DeVos will also have to get to know congressional Democrats. She's met with ten times as many Republicans in Congress as Democrats. And DeVos has starred as the boogeyman in a number of congressional and Senate ads and debates.

• But some of the most pivotal races will be decided at the state level. Education is playing in a handful of governor's races, including Wisconsin. Tony Evers, the Democratic state chief, is challenging GOP Gov. Scott Walker, who went after teachers' collective bargaining power.

• Voters will also get to decide whether to raise their taxes to pay for education. And education funding is an especially big issue in Colorado, where voters will weigh in on a ballot measure on the issue.

• There are some compelling teacher candidates for office. And they have to decide whether to go negative, knowing their students are watching.

• Seven state chief slots are up for grabs, and some of the races are very competitive. State ESSA plans could go through some significant changes, depending on who wins the election. But some states are delaying the release of their ESSA school report cards until after election day, to avoid potential political blowback.

Got all that? Great. Now you can join the Education Week team on election night here. You can also make your voice heard by using the hashtag #EdWeekWatchParty on Twitter on Tuesday.

People arrive for early voting at a polling place on Oct. 23, 2018, in Charlotte, N.C.  --Chuck Burton/AP

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