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Why you should be paying attention to the State Board of Education race

a classroom
There are two open seats on Michigan's Board of Education in Tuesday's midterm election.


There are two open seats on the Michigan Board of Education that will be voted on this midterm election. Eleven candidates are running for the seats, which have an 8-year term. Koby Levin of Chalkbeat Detroit has been covering this race. In a recent piece, he referred to it as a "the critical education race you’ve never heard of.”

Levin said he worries that Michigan voters are not as informed about this race as they should be. The placement of the candidates on the ballots may add to voters’ neglect.


“I just took a look at my sample ballot, and it’s right near the bottom. Yet, these candidates are going to play a major role in the coming year in issues like school closures, which will affect thousands of families across the state," Levin explained. "They’ll make decisions on learning standards that have been hugely controversial over the last year, and they’ll also have a big voice in conversations about school funding, which of course affects every student in Michigan.”


Out of the 11 candidates on the ballot, two are Democrats (Tiffany Tilley and Judy Pritchett), and two are Republicans (Tami Carlone and Richard Zeile). And there are major partisan divides between the candidates on issues like school closures. Historically, Levin said these races usually go in favor of party that takes more wins in a given election. But this year, Michigan has a newly restructured ballot.


“Voters are going to encounter a really big change at the ballot box in Michigan this year — that’s the end of straight ticket voting. We don’t know how that’s going to impact this race, but there is reason to think that it will be pretty significant,” Levin said. He said people who don’t recognize the 11 names simply won’t vote on this race.


Listen to the full interview to hear where Board of Education candidates stand on choosing a new state superintendent, the “read-or-flunk” law, and the value of standardized testing.


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