State of the States
State of the States Coverage: Hawaii, Montana, South Carolina, Utah
Here are summaries of recent annual addresses by governors around the country.
Gov. David Y. Ige (D) • Jan. 26
In his first State of the State address, Gov. Ige hailed education as a mechanism for raising families out of poverty, and declared the need to transform the state's school system through empowering school leaders. He said he will appoint members to Hawaii's board of education who are aligned with that belief.
In his proposed budget, Gov. Ige has asked for an increase in funds distributed through the state education department's Weighted Student Formula—a type of funding that principals control and decide how to spend. Currently, the budget for the Weighted Student Formula is $827 million. Mr. Ige wants to increase that amount by $2.4 million to cover enrollment increases, as well as by an additional $5 million above and beyond that. The formula distributes money based on student need instead of enrollment numbers.
"I challenge the leaders of public education to stop issuing mandates from the state office and to focus on empowering schools and delivering resources to the school level," he said.
Gov. Steve Bullock (D) • Jan. 29
In his biennial address to lawmakers, Gov. Bullock spent a goodly amount of time calling on legislators to approve a $37 million block grant to school districts to set up voluntary preschool programs, or partner with existing ones.
"We know that children in high-quality early-childhood programs are more likely to read at grade level and more likely to earn a high school diploma," the governor said. "The results are in, researchers and scientists across the country agree: This works."
The proposal has so far not attracted interest from Republican lawmakers in the state, something that Gov. Bullock chided them for.
"If Republican governors around the country can understand the importance of high-quality preschool, I hope Republican legislators in Montana can, too," he said.
For higher education, the governor recommended once again freezing tuition at the Montana University system.
Gov. Nikki Haley (R) • Jan. 21
As part of her call to "double down" on education investments—boosting overall education funding by $189 million, or 4.7 percent from fiscal 2014—Gov. Haley proposed in her address to lawmakers to help rural school districts recruit and keep good teachers.
Under the $1.5 million Teacher Quality and Recruitment Initiative, the state would pay four years of college tuition for any high school student graduating from an "underserved home district" who is willing to teach there or in another eligible rural district for at least two years.
For practicing teachers who commit to teach for five years in rural districts, the state would contribute $7,500 per year to repay their student loans for up to five years. Teachers with less than five years' experience who agree to teach in rural schools at least five years would be advanced by five years on their salary schedule; a teacher with four years' experience could move up to the salary of one with nine years, for example.
Teachers with five to eight years experience could receive up to two years of graduate school tuition, in exchange for two years of teaching in a rural district for each year in school. Teachers with more than eight years' experience could also receive $5,000 per year for five years to act as mentors in rural districts.
"We need those great teachers going to our rural schools, touching our most at-risk students, and we need them staying there," she said.
Gov. Haley's executive budget would remove K-8 math, science, and social studies programs from the state's lottery fund and support them separately, increasing the general education fund by $79 million. The budget would also expand the state's education technology and reading initiatives, including a 2014 program to train reading coaches.
–Sarah D. Sparks
Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R) • Jan. 28
Citing the opportunities presented by a growing economy and rising revenue, Gov. Herbert called for $500 million in new funds for education and development of a 10-year plan to coordinate the investment of that money.
In his annual speech, the governor made a plea for reinforcing strong local control, saying that Utah residents should empower local school administrators and their boards to make their own decisions about how money should be spent. He also warned against "federal overreach" related to standards and curriculum, saying there needs to be a "more robust discussion in our schools" about the U.S. Constitution, free-market economic principles, and participation in democratic society.
"Rest assured, we will assert our rights to exercise local control over what we teach and how we teach it," he said.
Vol. 34, Issue 20, Page 19