Where Governors Stand on School Choice

With the 2016 elections over—well, almost over—many are wondering what it all means for the future of educational choice policies.

Although news headlines have focused primarily on the presidential race, our team took a closer look at the results from this year’s 12 state gubernatorial races. After all, education is—and always should be—a local issue.

Of course, just because a governor supports or opposes private school choice does not guarantee a proposal’s success or failure. Over the past two decades, we have seen supportive governors veto school choice legislation, and we’ve seen opposed governors’ vetoes overridden.

Still, governors’ actions, positions and statements serve as likely indicators of what might happen if educational choice proposals were to reach their desks.

Note: We have not included the following states in this list because they did not have gubernatorial races this year: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. To learn where governors elected in 2014 stand on school choice, click here.

Without further ado, we present where the nation’s newest and re-elected governors stand on private school choice:



John Carney (D)

Private School Choice Supporter? NO



Eric Holcomb (R)

Private School Choice Supporter? YES

  • Holcomb’s campaign website reads, “Protect the rights of Hoosier families and parents to choose the best educational setting for their child’s individual needs through strong support of every type of school—traditional public schools, public charter schools, non-public schools and home schools—always working in a way that complements, rather than pits them against one another.”



Eric Greitens (R)

Private School Choice Supporter? YES

  • Greitens’ campaign website reads, “I believe every child in Missouri has the right to a first-rate education. Too many Missouri children are trapped in failing schools. I will lead efforts to provide more choices and opportunities for kids who need it most.”



Steve Bullock (D)

Private School Choice Supporter? NO

  • Governor Bullock vetoed a school choice bill in 2013. According to the Missoulian, Bullock will oppose “any bill that will ‘undermine our public education system’ by using public money or tax credits to help fund private schools.”
  • Bullock also failed to sign a 2015 tax credit.


New Hampshire

Chris Sununu (R)

Private School Choice Supporter? YES

  • Chris Sununu penned an opinion editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader entitled “Education choice is the foundation for equal opportunity.”
  • In a Huffington Post interview comparing Sununu to his opponent: “Provide vouchers to parents to send their children to private schools with public money? Answer: Yes. Supports as issue of parental choice.”


North Carolina (too close to call)

Roy Cooper (D)

Private School Choice Supporter? NO

  • Cooper’s campaign website reads, “I believe that public education is one of the most critical duties of state government. As governor, I will protect it from being further undermined by politicians in Raleigh wanting to dismantle it.” Because many school choice opponents believe school choice supporters want to dismantle public schools, this statement leads us to believe Cooper will not support private school choice options for families.

Pat McCrory (R)

Private School Choice Supporter? YES

  • In July of 2016, Gov. McCrory “signed a budget that extends and increases funding for the state’s Opportunity Scholarship program over the next twelve years,” according to The Heartland Institute. Gov. McCrory signed the program into law in 2013.
  • McCrory also issued a 2017 National School Choice Week proclamation. In it, he said, “We are committed to improving the quality of education and expanding access to highly effective schools. Today we recognize educational choice for families across North Carolina. Whether it be magnet, charter, home or non-public schools and the dedicated teachers, multiple school options will help students improve academic performance.”


North Dakota

Doug Burgum (R)

Private School Choice Supporter? UNCLEAR

  • Burgum has said the state of North Dakota can’t continue to drop money into education and expect different results if some schools continue to lag. “It’s unfair to students,” Burgum said in the Bismarck Tribune. “It’s unfair to taxpayers.” He added that charter schools or a school voucher system may need to be considered.



Kate Brown (D)

Private School Choice Supporter? NO

  • Oregon’s high school graduation rate is the third lowest in the nation and 10 percentage points below the national average. The Register-Guard reported, “Governor Brown said earlier this year that the state’s low graduation rates are caused in part by decades of the state’s “under investment” in public schools.”



Gary Herbert (R)

Private School Choice Supporter? YES

  • Herbert issued a 2012 National School Choice Week proclamation. In it, he said, “All children in Utah should have the right to the highest-quality schools possible; and citizens across Utah agree that improving the quality of education in Utah and expanding access to highly effective schools should be an issue of importance to our state’s leaders.”
  • Herbert released an official statement about his 2012 NSCW proclamation. In it, he said. “Utah is fortunate to boast a range of options, both public and private, to educate our children. That diversity of resources, coupled with the diversity of the needs of children, is critical if we are to prepare our children to compete in a global marketplace and become all they are destined to be.”



Phil Scott (R)

Private School Choice Supporter? YES

  • In the first Vermont gubernatorial debate, Scott said, “Act 46 was sold to many lawmakers as including school choice, to the surprise of many they found out that was not the case. I think competition is good. I believe that within reason parents should have a choice as to where they send their children. I would like to see some expansion of that.”



Jay Inslee (D)

Private School Choice Supporter? NO

  • Inslee “grudgingly” allowed a charter school bill to become law without his signature. Publically, Inslee strongly opposes school vouchers and private school choice.
  • Inslee has a 100 percent rating by one of the largest opponents of school choice, the National Education Association.


West Virginia

Jim Justice (D)

Private School Choice Supporter? NO

  • Justice is against charter school choice, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Because he does not support charter schools, he is unlikely to support private school choice measures, such as school vouchers or education savings accounts.


This story will be updated as more gubernatorial races are decided. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, EdChoice does not endorse or oppose any candidates running for local, state or federal office.