What Tuesday's Election Results Mean for Principals

Bob Kefgen's picture

Now is the time after the lightning flash but before the thunder. It's too early to say with certainty exactly what the election will mean for education policy in Michigan, but we can start to piece things together. We can also start to figure out what we know and what we don't. Here are some key takeaways for Principals from the election:

  1. The Michigan House of Representatives effectively remained unchanged. Despite speculation that Democrats might close the power gap or even take control of the chamber, Democrats picked up only one seat…and lost another. The end result is that the balance of power remains the same with 63 Republicans and 47 Democrats.
  2. Lame duck is likely to be lame. Because there was no shift in power at the state level, the predictions of a "super duck" post-election session are unlikely to come true. That's not to say that nothing controversial is going to happen. Already, the state Senate passed legislation that would negatively impact schools' ability to save money through electric choice. But if Armageddon is coming, it will likely wait until next year.
  3. The new Legislature is more conservative than the current one. The newly elected members of the state House seem, at first blush, to be more conservative than their predecessors – particularly on some hot button education issues. This likely means that, whether or not anything actually comes of it, we can expect more rhetoric and debate on things like the Common Core State Standards, state mandated testing, and transgender student bathroom use.
  4. The State Board of Education (SBE) is now split. Conservative Republicans Tom McMillin and Nikki Snyder (no relation to the Governor) won both open seats on the SBE, unseating long-time member and current Board President John Austin. The body is now evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans at 4-4.
  5. A divided SBE could mean gridlock or might mean nothing. Since the two current Republican members are more moderate, they could side with the Democrats on some issues to allow business as usual. But Austin's loss will mean a change in leadership and the two conservative Republicans are likely to be vocal, meaning more rancor and debate on controversial issues.
  6. It's too soon to know what President-Elect Trump will mean for education. Education was not a central issue in the presidential race this year, so we don't have much detail about what a Trump presidency will mean as states implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) next school year. We will know more once President-Elect Trump names his new Education Secretary, but for now, we just have to wait.

As always, MASSP will continue to follow things as they develop and make sure that Principals are kept in the loop and their voices are heard as the dust settles from the 2016 general election and the government gets back to the work of governing.