Hawaii Governor To Seek Bill To Rehire Retired Teachers
Gov. Benjamin J. Cayetano of Hawaii says lawmakers might have been too hasty in 1994 when they encouraged teachers to retire.
In his State of the State Address to lawmakers last week, the Democratic governor said he will introduce legislation to enable schools to rehire teachers who opted for incentives to leave the classroom.
"The early-retirement law was a mistake. It is doubtful whether it produced any savings," he said. "But it is very clear that too many of our most experienced teachers left the classroom prematurely. Our children need experienced teachers back in the classroom."
Eight percent of Hawaii's teachers opted for early retirement. The governor said inviting some of them back over the next four years would buy time while state officials and the University of Hawaii craft a plan to train more teachers.
Mr. Cayetano called education his highest priority and said he wants to see more money devoted to Hawaii's 242 schools.
The governor proposed $1 billion for capital-improvement projects. And he asked lawmakers to consider returning to an appointed state board of education with the power to raise revenues for education in an effort to "clear the lines of accountability and hold the governor fully accountable for public education."
All of Hawaii's public schools are governed by the state board.
School Bureaucracy Is Under the Gun
Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas used his first State of the State Address to endorse a series of school measures ranging from reorganizing the state education office to creating character education programs.
"We need to move our educational bureaucracy from one that rather than being served by the schools is serving the schools and giving more of the decisions to the local superintendents and locally elected school boards," he said last month in support of a Senate bill.
The Republican governor also backed a proposal from several lawmakers to encourage districts to teach traits such as kindness, generosity, and punctuality.
"Teach them the simple things that most of us learned when we were at home as toddlers," he said. They are "not so much religious values, but character values--character qualities that are hardly arguable, but are most needed in our culture today."
--DAVID J. HOFF
Construction Tops Modest Schools Agenda
In his State of the State Address to the Maryland legislature this month, Gov. Parris N. Glendening coupled his long-awaited plan to cut the state's personal-income tax with several modest proposals for schools.
The Democrat pledged in his Jan. 15 speech to rebuild many of the state's dilapidated schools, proposing $138 million in construction funds in his budget. The governor also said he would continue to work to put all of the state's children on an equal footing by enforcing a recent school finance settlement with the Baltimore school district.
The legislature is set to consider a bill that would funnel more than $250 million in state aid to the city schools in exchange for more oversight by the state.
"It's our job to make sure that every child, from our most challenged to our most gifted, gets a good education in the state," Gov. Glendening said.
Carlson Pushes Tests in His Reform Package
Charging that many Minnesota high school graduates lack the skills to hold high-tech jobs, Gov. Arne Carlson warned in his State of the State Address that Minnesotans will pay dearly if they don't improve their schools.
The second-term Republican urged the state instead to embrace reform and "focus on those children who are not making it."
Gov. Carlson proposed a package of reform measures last month that he recapped in his Jan. 16 speech. Among his proposals is a statewide test to measure the performance of schools and students. Mr. Carlson and other GOP leaders have said they are willing to increase education spending only if lawmakers agree to an expanded accountability program, including the new test.
The governor also said he will push for greater leeway for local school boards to contract with private or public organizations for instructional services. He will also seek tax credits and deductions to help parents pay for private school, home schooling, or tutoring.
"Do not underestimate my resolve on this issue," he declared before the Democratic-controlled legislature. "Too many students are failing and we cannot afford to lose one more."
New Funds Suggested Along With Tests
Republican Gov. Marc Racicot urged significant increases in education spending and proposed a program to assess Montana's public schools. He unveiled his plans in a State of the State Address Jan. 16 that praised teaching as an unequaled "noble endeavor."
The boost in education spending amounts to one-third of the new money proposed by the governor for the next two-year budget, a spokesman said.
Responding to the rising enrollment in Montana's schools, Mr. Racicot proposed a $15 million increase for schools over the next two years. He also urged increases for teacher retirement, school construction, and buses.
The governor also advocated the adoption of an "accountable school improvement project" that would set statewide standards and guide local assessments of Montana's 800 public schools.
"Without a school report card, it is difficult for parents, teachers, administrators, trustees, or legislators to make key decisions and evaluations about the state of our public schools," Gov. Racicot said in his speech. "The school improvement project will address this need."
Johnson Angles for New Schools Chief
Gov. Gary E. Johnson of New Mexico plans another attempt to overhaul the state education bureaucracy and bring education issues under his control.
"Ironically, there is one person in New Mexico who is not held accountable, and should be, for what happens in our schools--and that person is me--the governor of New Mexico," the Republican said in his Jan. 21 State of the State Address. "I want that responsibility. I want to be held accountable."
Under the current system, voters elect 10 of the state school board's members while the governor appoints the other five. The board in turn appoints the state superintendent of schools, who serves at the governor's discretion.
Mr. Johnson proposed eliminating the state board and creating a secretary of education's post appointed by the governor. In past sessions, the Democratic majority in the legislature never acted on Mr. Johnson's proposals.
Whitman Plays Teacher During Annual Message
Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey led an electronic field trip this month to demonstrate the power of distance learning during her annual State of the State Address.
The two-minute lesson on beach erosion featured students in the legislative chambers in Trenton engaging in a question-and-answer session with the director of the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City on interactive television.
Mrs. Whitman hoped the scientific interlude would help her proposed $50 million initiative to expand distance learning.
She also used a math problem to back new academic standards:
"If the probability of the Giants defeating the Eagles in an individual game is 40 percent, what is the probability that they will win a three-game playoff?" she asked. "If you're wondering, it's 35.2 percent."
New Initiatives Get Backing From Governor
Gov. David M. Beasley last week urged South Carolinians to remember that "the single most valued road to the future is the one our children travel: the road of education."
Gov. Beasley used his State of the State Address to promise continued support for existing programs like the state's technology initiatives and all-day kindergarten. He also backed building new schools and, for the first time in the state's history, providing college scholarships.
"My executive budget devotes nearly 45 percent of new money to continuing these initiatives," he said.
Gov. Beasley, a Republican, also announced the creation of a commission that will spend the next six months "identifying back-to-basics, globally competitive standards."
New Finance Formula Lauded by Janklow
Equitable state aid to schools and a new system of after-school care were prime topics for Gov. William F. Janklow in his State of the State Address to South Dakota lawmakers.
The governor noted that for the first time in South Dakota's history, adjustments to the school finance formula provide the same basic aid for each student. The changes in the formula also even out funding for special education students, Mr. Janklow, a Republican, said.
Using school buildings to host after-school programs would be a "no-brainer" for the state, the governor said in the speech Jan. 15, but he said that the programs should not be an expense of the school systems.
"The taxpayers locally are paying for these buildings, and if they could be put to use for a few extra hours ... if accommodations could be made to have a latchkey program right in the school, what a tremendous savings," Mr. Janklow said.
New Governor Calls Schools No. 1 Priority
In his inaugural address as the new governor of Washington, Democrat Gary Locke told the state's lawmakers he considered education "the great equalizer that makes hope and opportunity possible."
Gov. Locke, the son of Chinese immigrants, said in the speech this month that the "paramount duty" of the state in the next century would be to create an education system for lifelong learning. Residents should be able to tap into the new system for basic skills or professional advancement.
The governor, who formerly served as the executive of King County, also vowed to make education the first priority in every budget he will propose.