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NASBE Analyzes 2020 State Election Results: Steady Leadership in Most Cases


While voters delivered a significant presidential change in the 2020 elections, they opted for stable state leadership, according to a new NASBE post-election analysis released today. The steady course is expected to maintain existing efforts to provide students safe, high quality learning experiences amid the pandemic, say authors Joseph Hedger and Abigail Potts.

The analysis outlines outcomes from major state races and changes in 61 state board of education seats in 12 states and territories that were on the ballot:

  • In the race for statewide office, voters in two states–Montana and Utah–elected new governors to open seats, with only Montana shifting party.
  • State education chiefs in Montana, North Dakota, and Washington won reelection, while Republican Catherine Truitt won an open seat in North Carolina. With Indiana’s chief not seeking reelection, the shift to a governor-appointed “secretary of education” now goes into effect.
  • State boards in Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Utah, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands held elections for a total of 61 seats. More than half of those seats will be filled by new board members.
  • Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico passed public funding ballot measures. California’s affirmative action repeal failed, and Washington voters chose to mandate comprehensive sexual education.

“As the pandemic continues to affect schools across the nation and a new federal administration enters office, state leadership will face daunting challenges, experience will matter, and new officeholders will need to get quickly up to speed,” write Hedger and Potts.

Read “Steady Leadership in State Education after 2020 Elections.”

Join us tomorrow at 3:00 pm ET, as we discuss the 2020 elections results with experts from the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Education Commission of the States and forecast what’s likely to top state board agendas in 2021. Details on the webinar can be found here.

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances.

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