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Tudor Dixon or Gretchen Whitmer? Now it’s up to voters.

Chalkbeat logo: MainLogo Chalkbeat 11/8/2022 Tracie Mauriello

Education is a key issue as Michiganders choose between an incumbent Democrat who touts a record of increasing school funding and a Republican challenger who wants parents to have more control over where, what, and how children are taught.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Tudor Dixon have vastly differing views on school safety, private school choice, curriculum, Michigan’s third grade reading retention law, and more.

Dixon, 45, of Norton Shores, is a political newcomer who left her family’s steel business to become a conservative news commentator. This is her first run for public office.

Whitmer, 51, is a longtime politician who previously served as a state representative, state Senate minority leader, and vice chairperson of the Democratic National Committee. She briefly served as Ingham County prosecutor.

Whoever is elected will shape the education of 1.4 million public school children for the next four years.

Still, the victor’s power over education will be limited. In Michigan, the top education official is selected by an elected school board, not the governor. The governor can influence education through messaging and by negotiating school programs into or out of the state school aid budget.

“Education is very much on the minds of voters,” said Jenna Bednar, professor of political science and public policy at the University of Michigan. “I won’t say it trumps economic issues, but I’m hearing a lot from voters, especially parents. As frustrated as they were during the pandemic, they also became very aware that this is a very hard job for teachers, and teachers are in a position that is very difficult.”

Both Dixon and Whitmer seem to be aware of that, too, as they have campaigned on the need for more school funding and more one-on-one tutors.

The election is happening at a crucial time as the state recovers from a pandemic that reduced learning opportunities for students, reduced test scores, and increased the need for mental health services in schools.

Numerous other local, state, and federal offices are on the ballot. Eight candidates are running for two seats on the state Board of Education.

The polls are open until 8 p.m.

Tracie Mauriello covers state education policy for Chalkbeat Detroit and Bridge Michigan. Reach her at



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