The midterm elections are only a few days away, and in this season the voters of Massachusetts have hotly debated ballot questions that would impose a limit on the amount of patients a nurse can be assigned at a given time, and whether to repeal a 2016 law that bans discrimination against transgender people in public places like restaurants and hotels. In the governor’s race, between Republican incumbent Charlie Baker and Democratic challenger Jay Gonzalez, the fight has focused on transportation, healthcare and President Trump, but when it comes to public education, both have been noticeably quiet.

While the two candidates have mentioned plans for what they’d like to do, neither have vocally pushed this issue to the center-stage, and according to former Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville, it’s indicative of the growing schism within both the Democratic and Republican parties. Take the debate around charter schools, where Democrats like Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz initially supported charter school expansion, but eventually opposed 2016’s ballot question that would have expanded charter schools.

“Democrats are deeply divided because one of their biggest constituencies, the unions, has been anti-charter school, and they have a lot of progressive democrats on the other side who are pro-innovation and want to see some changes,” Reville said on Boston Public Radio this morning. “So, for a candidate like Gonzalez it’s a treacherous issue, so all he can really say to solve that is more money, and let’s talk about early childhood which is virtually the same thing Hillary Clinton did in the national campaign.”

Meanwhile, things are not much clearer within the Republican Party, where Governor Baker is caught in the middle of the wants of the national party, which is strongly pro-privatization, and the needs of the constituents who supported him in 2014, many of whom live in communities where state-funded schools are some of the largest employers in the area.

“Republicans themselves are divided,” Reville said. “At the national level we have DeVos and Trump who are nominally pro-[charter school] everywhere all the time, but you go down into the rural communities in the midwest and they have no desire to have choice in those communities where the biggest employer in town is the school system.”

Reville believes that because of this internal split, politicians have forsaken having large debates around education since its difficult to coalesce a base around specific issues. As a result, the debate has mostly focused on polarizing issues like healthcare and immigration where Gonzalez and Baker have been able to find more widespread support for their policy goals than in the education sector.

“We don’t have governors who want to be seen as education governors anymore. We don’t have business CEOs who want to be seen as education CEOs. This kind of desertion of the sector by top leadership because we can’t deal with our issues internally is a hazard for the [education] as a whole,” Reville said.