Education Equity on the 2020 Ballot

New Guide Provides Candidates’ Positions on Education Equity in Key Southern Races

October 1, 2020 (Atlanta, GA) – In 2020, racial equity has been front-and-center on the American political and social agenda, particularly with regard to education. To help voters learn where candidates in key political races in the South and the Presidential race stand on education equity, the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) today released Election 2020: Education Equity on the Ballot. The online voter guide compares the candidates’ positions on a range of issues that affect opportunity in education for Black students, other students of color and students from low-income families.

The guide includes the gubernatorial candidates in Delaware, Missouri, North Carolina and West Virginia; the candidates for North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Instruction; and the candidates for State Board of Education in Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 in Alabama and Districts 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 14 and 15 in Texas. The information presented is based on candidate responses to a SEF survey sent to all corresponding candidates; in cases where candidates did not complete SEF’s survey, information was collected from candidates’ campaign websites and widely available comments in traditional or social media.

“A strong public education system is vital to achieving equity in our society, and the events of this year have underscored places where massive inequities persist, especially with regard to educational achievement and the digital divide, “ said Raymond Pierce, President and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation. “In addition, when schools were forced to close because of the pandemic, millions of families lost access to critical services provided by schools, such as nutritious meals, health care, and mental health support. To help public schools facing massive budget shortfalls, Congress passed legislation to provide emergency COVID-19 relief aid. This year, voters have a role to play in determining how that funding is directed and accounted for by supporting candidates who have articulated that they will invest in supporting students most in need.”

According to Election 2020, “In addition to their influence over emergency relief funds for public education, elected officials at all levels – from local and state school boards, state legislatures, and state executive offices to the federal legislative and executive branches – wield varying levels of influence and power on critical items such as education budgets, school funding, curriculum and instruction, teacher and administrator recruitment and retention, and regulatory and accountability measures. They also have the authority to appoint individuals to key positions who will set policy and procedures at all levels of government. Education policy decisions are particularly important, as they often have the most serious financial implications, furthest reach and greatest potential to make a difference in students’ lives.”

Election 2020 includes information on candidates’ positions on the following key education equity issues:

  • COVID-19 Response and Plan for Distance Learning
  • Culturally-Relevant and Anti-Racist Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Elections for State Superintendent of Education and State Board of Education
  • Equitable K-12 Funding
  • Private School Choice
  • School Disciplinary Policies
  • School District Governance
  • School Resource and Police Officers
  • Teacher Recruitment and Retention
  • Usage of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds and Other Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds
  • Virtual and For-Profit Charter Schools
  • Wraparound Services

The guide also includes detailed explanation of these policy issues and how they support education equity.

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Originally founded in 1867 to educate Black children and children from low-income families in the South, the Southern Education Foundation was a pivotal source of research and data to support legislation and litigation aimed at fighting inequity in education during the civil rights era. The organization today conducts leadership development, research, and advocacy to improve educational opportunities for low-income students and students of color and achieve educational equity in the Southern U.S. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Find out more at www.southerneducationfoundation.org.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Gretchen Wright, gwright@southerneducation.org, (202) 421-5830