Press Release

Americans Voted for Public Schools over Privatization

For Release: 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Janet Bass

WASHINGTON—While today most are focused on the results of the presidential election, a common result can be seen in the numerous ballot initiatives and school board races across the country: Americans chose to protect, support and invest in the democratic institution of public education, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said today.

On local issues where Americans felt connected to the outcomes and empowered by their votes, they voted against school privatization, for school board members who want to work with educators and parents, and for investing in public schools that all kids deserve.

“When the issue was whether to support its community public schools, communities said ‘yes.’ Voters chose to protect and support the institution of public education. You can see this in the defeat of measures to expand charter schools, in the passage of measures to invest in public education, and in the support of school board members who will work with educators to provide a high-quality public education for all children,” Weingarten said. “These victories send a strong message that Americans want our schools to use proven, evidence-based solutions to the challenges that hold children back.”

AFT members were deeply engaged in the following campaigns and outcomes:

Ballot measures on privatization:

  • Massachusetts – defeat of a measure to lift the cap on the number of charter schools.
  • Georgia – defeat of Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposal for a state-run “Opportunity School District” of chronically failing schools.

School board races:

  • Corpus Christi, Texas – won two of three races, giving a board majority to union-backed candidates.
  • Detroit – won four of seven races, giving a board majority to union-backed candidates.
  • Orleans Parish, La. – won two of three races.
  • Minneapolis – won the three new board seats and renewed the operating levy.
  • Florida – union-backed candidates won school board seats in at least seven counties.
  • Wayne Community College Board of Trustees (Mich.) – won all three seats.

School funding ballot measures:

  • Ohio – passed levies in Cincinnati (in part to expand early childhood education programs), Cleveland and Cleveland Heights, and a school bond for Berea to renovate and build schools.
  • Others levies – Detroit, San Francisco Community College District.
  • California – passed Proposition 55 to continue the “millionaire’s tax” and maintain a funding stream for public education.
  • New Mexico – approved a bond to provide $131 million to colleges and universities.

Weingarten also noted significant state legislative wins that will have an impact on measures affecting children and families: Democrats took control of both chambers of the Nevada Legislature and the New Mexico House of Representatives. In Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock won another four years to keep the Democrats’ 12-year hold on the Statehouse.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.