2010 State of the States
For the version of our State of the State address roundups, click here.
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Gov. Riley announced that Alabama public schools would see a $400 million increase when he makes his fiscal year 2011 budget proposal. He also urged lawmakers to approve charter school legislation to better position Alabama for a slice of $4 billion in Race to the Top Fund grants from the economic stimulus, which are intended to reward states for making progress in certain education redesign areas. Using a football metaphor, Gov. Riley asked, “Would it have been fair if Alabama had to get 12 yards to make a first down and Texas only had to get 10? Of course not. Yet, because we don’t have charter schools, that’s exactly the position we’re in. We don’t get to compete for these education dollars on a level playing field, and that does nothing but hurt our students.”
In his first State of the State address to lawmakers, Gov. Parnell advocated a merit-scholarship plan that would aid students who completed a more-rigorous curriculum than is currently required for high school graduation. The curriculum for the proposed Governor’s Performance Scholarship program would require four years of math, science, and English and three years of social studies. Students who completed that coursework with a C-plus average would earn 50 percent of their tuition, while students with a B average would receive 75 percent, and students with an A average would have 100 percent of their tuition paid for by the state. The aid could be used for in-state college tuition or a job-training program. Mr. Parnell, who moved up from the lieutenant governorship after the resignation of Gov. Sarah Palin last year, proposed paying for the scholarship program by starting a savings account with $400 million and using the interest and investment earnings. He also pledged to use some of the money from the state’s 2010 budget surplus to pay for school construction projects, especially in needy rural areas.
Gov. Janice Brewer warned in her annual talk to lawmakers that she’d have to make further cuts in state jobs and services because of the state’s economic troubles, but still proposed several education reforms. Among them, the Republican governor plans to work with the legislature to stop promotions of students who can’t read at the end of 3rd grade and to change the labels in the state’s ranking system of schools. She proposed giving schools letter grades for their performance instead of the current labels that range from “failing” to “excelling.” She also would like to strengthen the state’s online data system for schools. The governor praised the state’s support for parents to make various kinds of choices for the schooling of their children, such as charter schools and home schooling, in addition to regular public schools.
After carving deeply into California’s K-12 budget over the past two years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed Wednesday to spare schools from further cuts in the budget he will propose for fiscal 2011. In his final State of the State address, the term-limited governor said that the state’s still-ailing budget will require more painful spending cuts in the coming months, but that he would draw the line on further cuts to both K-12 and higher education. Spending on the state’s public schools has been slashed by nearly $18 billion since 2008, as the governor and lawmakers struggled to close what was a $62 billion deficit. K-12 spending this year still makes up about 37 percent of California’s $91.4 billion overall budget. The state’s total public school enrollment is about 6 million students. The fiscally battered state now faces a nearly $20 billion deficit over the next 18 months. | Read More
In his final State of the State address, Gov. Ritter emphasized creating jobs and improving the economy while keeping the strained state budget balanced. Mr. Ritter, who has proposed cuts in K-12 spending for the upcoming budget year, also discussed plans to replace the state’s standardized-testing regime, the Colorado State Assessment Program. “We’ll still assess our kids, and we’ll assess more rigorously than ever before, because we need to know what they know and what they can do,” he told lawmakers. “We will modernize assessments so the tests help our teachers teach, help our students learn, and help our parents engage in their children's education.” Mr. Ritter, who surprised many analysts when he announced this month that he would not seek a second term, put forward in November a roughly $19 billion budget package for the 2011 fiscal year, which begins July 1. A press release from the governor said the request would reduce state K-12 spending by $260 million, or 4.6 percent, compared with an initial figure for the current fiscal year of $5.6 billion. In his speech to the legislature, Gov. Ritter took aim at several measures slated for the November ballot that are aimed at reining in state and local taxes and fees, as well as loans. He warned that their adoption “would shut down colleges and prisons, increase class sizes, put thousands of teachers out of work, and prevent the repair of unsafe roads and bridges.”
Gov. Rell, delivering her final State of the State address, proposed a Keno gambling system to help the state shore up gaps in the $18.9 billion budget for the fiscal year that has started, but otherwise plans no changes to the budget from the previous year. The governor, who is not seeking re-election, also proposed granting up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness to college students who stay and work in Connecticut for five years after graduating as a way to stop the state’s “brain drain.” She named the opening of new charter and magnet schools as among her accomplishments as governor.
Gov. Markell touted a new education reform framework that he hopes will provide all children with a “world-class education,” a key ingredient in building the state’s economy. In his address to state legislators, he urged support for high academic standards and for new steps to ensure teacher quality and students’ college readiness. He said the state will work to turn around low-performing schools, will intervene when they fail, and will make better use of data and new assessments to improve instruction. To build a better corps of teachers and principals, Gov. Markell pledged to work with the state’s colleges to establish teacher-residency and leadership-preparation programs. He said that teachers who “produce results” in high-need schools should be better compensated, but did not provide details about how he thinks those results should be measured. Under a new evaluation system, new teachers can’t get tenure unless their students show significant growth, the governor said. He also said that the state will improve teacher-preparation programs by linking data about their performance back to those programs.
Gov. Crist thanked the state legislature for saving the jobs of 20,000 Florida teachers and approving bonuses for Advanced Placement teachers in the 2009-10 budget, but encouraged the legislature to continue its work on reducing class size. He also recommended expanding Tax Credit Scholarships so that low-income parents could send their children to the schools they choose. “These and other achievements have positioned us to succeed in the Race to the Top competition for millions of dollars in federal funds for Florida schools,” Mr. Crist said. He cited the Quality Counts report, published by Education Week, as saying that in the last four years Florida’s school system has moved from 31st to 8th in America. He also said Florida’s graduation rates were at their highest ever.
In a speech that referred to Thomas Paine and Alexis de Tocqueville and noted the pain and sacrifice Southern families endured during the Great Depression, Gov. Perdue urged the state legislature to make difficult budget choices now to spare greater economic crises in the generations to come. In his final State of the State address, Gov. Perdue, who was scheduled to unveil his fiscal 2011 budget proposal on Jan. 15, called for restraint in public spending and redefinition of priorities across services, including education. “For too long, the easy answer in education has been to preserve the status quo,” he said. “The prevailing winds have often forced us to accept watered-down compromises that, frankly, nibbled around the edges.” One potential area of change, he suggested, is in teacher compensation. Referring to a plan he outlined earlier in the week, Mr. Perdue said a pay-for-performance component should be added to the current teacher-pay system. Instead of increasing salaries based on teachers’ time in the classroom, the new system would award bonuses to those deemed effective based on classroom observations and growth in student achievement.
Gov. Lingle expressed disappointment in the progress of Hawaii’s education system over her tenure. Too many authorities—the governor, the legislature, the state board of education, and the state superintendent—play a role in education, which makes it difficult for citizens to hold any one of them accountable for results, she said. Gov. Lingle, who can’t seek re-election because of term limits, proposed a constitutional amendment that would make the department of education a Cabinet agency with a superintendent chosen by the governor. She pointed to the robotics initiative headed by the governor’s office in 2007 as proof of the governor’s ability to make an impact on education. In addition, she announced that she would allocate $10 million in federal economic-stimulus aid to start robotics programs in every regular public school and charter school in the state by next year.
Faced with a continuing fiscal squeeze, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said that his budget proposal would call for holding back $40 million in state spending, a 1.6 percent cut from last year’s appropriations—and that he could not spare public schools from cuts. K-12 education is receiving $1.23 billion in fiscal year 2010, but could be decreased less than 1.5 percent because of a proposed budget reduction, due in part to declining revenue and a depleted rainy day fund. The governor is proposing to cut K-12 by 2.4 percent in fiscal 2011. “That is among the toughest recommendations I make today,” the Republican governor said in his annual address to the legislature. “But the fact is that while other executive-branch agencies have cut their spending by $499 million as a result of holdbacks over the past two years, we have used almost $318 million from reserve accounts and federal stimulus funds during that same period to reduce the impact on public schools.” Still, Gov. Otter touted recent improvements to education technology in his largely rural state. He said that by the end of the year, an additional 80 high schools will be connected to the state’s broadband network, enabling distance learning and other opportunities. The effort is being financed in part with funding from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, based in Boise, Idaho. Expanded broadband service is helping students in more-remote parts of the state get access to “uniquely qualified instructors” who might not otherwise be available to them, Gov. Otter said.
In his annual speech to lawmakers, Gov. Quinn praised his state’s efforts to assemble a strong application for up to $500 million in the federal economic-stimulus program’s Race to the Top funding for public schools. The governor noted that 340 school districts have signed on to the state’s application for the Race to the Top grants, and also hailed lawmakers for approving a measure last year that will allow more charter schools—60 in total—to open in Illinois. Mr. Quinn, who was elevated from his lieutenant governor’s position almost a year ago after the scandal-tainted Rod Blagojevich was forced out of the governor’s office, faces a strong primary challenge on Feb. 2 from the state’s comptroller. Like most states, Illinois is grappling with a large deficit, and Gov. Quinn said state leaders will face difficult decisions this year to balance a budget that has a roughly $13 billion shortfall. He emphasized, however, that he wants to protect spending on K-12 education as well as higher education and early childhood education programs, though he provided no details. Illinois’s general fund budget for fiscal 2010 is $28.4 billion; roughly 27 percent of that is appropriated for K-12 education.
Gov. Daniels called on lawmakers to pass a bill ending social promotion in 3rd grade for students who cannot read, a practice he sees as unfair to teachers, cruel to children, and damaging to the state’s future. “If, after four years, the system has failed in this most fundamental duty, then it will simply have to try again until it gets it right,” he said. He also praised lawmakers for heeding the call of President Barack Obama by lifting caps on charter schools and passing legislation that would allow student achievement to be linked to teacher evaluation. In a speech that foreshadowed more tough budget times ahead, he also called for the merger of the state’s two large pension funds—one for teachers, and one for all other public employees—as part of a broader package of efficiencies that could save the state up to $70 million a year.
Despite a gloomy fiscal forecast in Iowa, Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat and former teacher, proposed a 2 percent increase for public education. And he asked lawmakers to use reserve funds to restore some $100 million in cuts that cash-strapped school districts in the state have weathered, due to the recession. The fiscal year 2011 budget is still being worked out, but K-12 education received $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2010, on a general fund budget of $5.25 billion. He also urged lawmakers to pass legislation requiring school districts to spend a portion of their cash reserves in tight times, instead of shifting the burden to local property taxpayers. And he asked lawmakers to quickly pass legislation to help the Hawkeye State compete for a slice of the $4 billion in Race to the Top Fund grants, which reward states that make progress on education redesign. Race to the Top “will allow us be more innovative in the classroom, build the education infrastructure our students need, turn around underperforming schools and allow more parental choice,” Gov. Culver said. “Let’s make sure Iowa doesn’t miss out on this great opportunity for our students.” Gov. Culver asked lawmakers to approve the last installment of Iowa’s four-year, $60 million commitment to expanding preschool.
Kansas faces a $400 million deficit in the next fiscal year, Gov. Mark Parkinson told legislators in his first State of the State address, and increases in the state’s sales and cigarette taxes are needed to help fill the gap. Without those increases, he said, cuts would have to be made to the $3.1 billion Kansas plans to spend annually on education on K-12 education in the fiscal 2011 budget, an increase of approximately $32 million over the previous fiscal year. Schools and other areas were hard hit by a budget cut of nearly $1 billion last year in the fiscal 2010 general fund budget, which now stands at $5.4 billion. The fiscal 2011 budget calls for $5.8 million in general fund spending alone. “The alternative to coming up with this $400 million is not acceptable. It would require a round of cuts that would do years of damage to what we have built,” Gov. Parkinson said. “We would hurt every school district in this state. More schools would close, and class sizes would reach intolerable levels.”
In a State of the Commonwealth speech that was longer on policy details than on budget figures, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear highlighted his efforts to isolate education from budget cuts and outlined plans to raise the state’s age for compulsory school attendance. Gov. Beshear, a Democrat, said in his speech that the legislature had managed to pare $900 million in six successive rounds of cuts to the state’s 2010 budget, while maintaining support for students and teachers. (As enacted, that $9.56 billion budget provided $4.64 billion for pre-K-12 education.) He pledged to support the newly created Transforming Education in Kentucky initiative to improve curriculum, graduation rates, and teacher retention, and to implement new testing requirements passed by the legislature last year. The governor also said he would support legislation to be introduced in this session to raise the age at which students are allowed to quit school. “Letting our children leave school early—in a world where more education, not less, is what is needed—denies them a chance for a bright and rewarding future,” he said. “Without education, many of our dropouts are doomed to mediocrity, or worse.” He also said he would support new legislation to make student transfers between the state’s public institutions of higher education more seamless. Gov. Beshear is expected to give a second address in two weeks outlining his budget proposals.
Rather than propose cuts in spending, Gov. Jindal endorsed three proposals that would redirect existing funds. He stressed the importance of passing the Red Tape Reduction Act, which would give regular public schools the same flexibility and state funding as charter schools, but in return require the schools to agree to a four-year contract to increase student learning. The governor also emphasized the need to reduce dropout rates and suggested ending an ineffective pre-GED program and giving that money to a successful jobs education program called Jobs for America’s Graduates. The third proposal was to implement a value-added assessment that was passed the previous year to monetarily reward teachers who bring underperforming students up to grade level.
Gov. Baldacci called in his annual address for a new evaluation system for teachers and principals. Growth in student achievement, he said, must be part of how an educator’s job performance is judged. The governor, who is serving the final year of his second, four-year term, did not reveal any details of his proposal to the assembled lawmakers, but he noted that incorporating student achievement into educators’ evaluations is a priority in the federal economic-stimulus program’s Race to the Top grant competition. Maine was one of 10 states that did not apply for a piece of the $4 billion in grants in the first round. Maine officials announced last fall that they would sit out the first round in order to enact new legislation to make their application more competitive. The state has been resistant to enacting legislation that would allow charter schools to open. Instead, Gov. Baldacci said he would support charter-like flexibility for regular public schools that would include managing their own budgets, setting their own schedules, and trying “creative approaches” to curriculum and instruction.
Maryland’s governor made jobs creation the focus of his State of the State address, but also highlighted the role education can play in revitalizing the state’s economy. Gov. O’Malley said it is important for Maryland to “reinvigorate” science, technology, engineering, and math, or stem, education. Students must also receive a firm grounding in environmental and financial literacy, he said. The governor, who is up for re-election this year, also made a plea for support for his “Skills2Compete” initiative, which is designed to bolster access to training and apprenticeship programs and to higher education.
Gov. Patrick pledged to protect education spending despite Massachusetts’ continuing fiscal challenges, telling lawmakers in his third State of the State address that he will present a budget for fiscal 2011 that ensures that “no school will see a cut in state support.” The governor, who faces re-election this year, also highlighted a new package of education measures he recently signed that, among other provisions, will allow more charter schools to open around the state. The legislation also allows for the creation of in-district “innovation schools” that would have more flexibility regarding collective bargaining agreements than regular district schools do. For fiscal 2010, the state allotted roughly $4.3 billion to K-12 school aid, about 21 percent of the state’s $27 billion budget.
Education received more than a few mentions in the eighth and final State of the State address for Gov. Granholm, who is term-limited and will leave office after this year. She asked the legislature to spare education from any further budget reductions and to restore the state’s Promise Scholarships, which were cut last year. “I will also draw the line against additional education cuts in the year ahead,” she said. “Is there a single family in Michigan that would choose to make ends meet in hard times by first sacrificing the needs of the children?” The governor did not present any numbers last week, but said she would present her budget this week, as Michigan law requires.
Gov. Pawlenty promised not to reduce funding in K-12 programs while making cuts to the state budget. Instead he asked lawmakers to reform teacher tenure and pass the “Teaching Transformation Act,” a bill which was unpopular with teachers' unions. Gov. Pawlenty said the bill would “dramatically improve teacher quality, training, and accountability for results.” He said tenure should be renewed every five years and based on student performance evaluations.
Faced with a substantial fiscal squeeze, Gov. Barbour urged lawmakers to pass legislation giving him new budgeting flexibility, in part so that he can spare K-12 education from a significant cut. Fiscal 2010 revenues face an 8.1 shortfall, Mr. Barbour said in his State of the State address. But under Mississippi law, the governor cannot cut any department or agency by more than 5 percent unless all other agencies, expect for debt service, have received cuts of at least 5 percent. Any cuts above 5 percent must be for the same percentage across all agencies. The governor urged the Mississippi House of Representatives to pass legislation allowing him to cut individual agencies by up to 10 percent before having to make cuts uniform across the board. The state Senate already has approved a bill giving the governor such authority, which would expire after this year. Such legislation would make it possible to spare K-12 from a likely cut of at least 8 percent, Gov. Barbour said. “The 10 percent bill would allow smaller cuts in … K-12 education than current law, as I would use my discretion to that end,” he said.
Gov. Nixon, in his second annual State of the State address, vowed to freeze tuition at state colleges and universities for the second year in a row and boost state aid to K-12 schools slightly in fiscal 2011 to just over $3 billion. The Democratic governor also proposed expanding the state’s A+ scholarship program—which provides two years of community college tuition to high school students who maintain good grades, volunteer in their communities, and stay out of trouble—to include all of the state’s 569 high schools. The program now is only open to students in the state’s 274 designated A+ schools. His proposed $23.8 billion budget for the 2011 fiscal year would also maintain $37.5 million for a career-ladder program for teachers. Although schools serving the state’s 892,000 K-12 students stand to benefit under Mr. Nixon’s spending proposal, some other education-related services would take a hit under the plan, mostly due to reduced federal economic-stabilization dollars. Targeted for reductions are state schools for blind, deaf, and severely disabled children; reimbursements to schools for court-ordered student placements; and a planned restoration of money for student transportation.
Gov. Heineman made education a top focus in his State of the State speech to the unicameral legislature, which he delivered just after approving a regulation that changed Nebraska’s graduation requirements for the first time since 1984. The new course requirements, which include four years of English and three years of mathematics, science, and social studies, is part of the work of a state P-16 initiative, which the governor chairs. “For all students to succeed, Nebraska needs a common set of career-ready and college-ready standards,” the governor said. Gov. Heineman offered no budget numbers in his address. The state in November faced a $334 million budget deficit in its $3.3 billion budget for fiscal years 2009 and 2010. The legislature took action in a special session to cut spending, but exempted the $1.7 billion in state aid to K-12 education from budget cuts.
With a $6 billion budget and a fiscal 2010 deficit projected at $1 billion, Gov. Gibbons asked teachers to do more with less this year and take a 6 percent pay reduction. He unveiled an education reform plan that calls for empowering local school boards and parents to make decisions about their children’s education. He suggested that policies such as mandatory pupil-teacher ratios in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades and full-day kindergarten be eliminated, but left the decision to school boards. The governor quoted the state department of education’s announcement that 142 of the 613 public schools in Nevada qualify as the worst schools in the nation, and he said that the state should stop “throwing more money” at a system that doesn’t change.
While focusing mostly on maintaining and creating jobs for Granite State residents, Gov. John Lynch also used his State of the State address to announce that high school dropout rates across the state had dropped 30 percent over the last year. He attributed the change to efforts he led to raise the minimum legal dropout age from 16 to 18 and to an expansion of education alternatives for students who would otherwise drop out of school. He said 24 of the state’s 80 high schools cut their dropout numbers by at least 50 percent.
In his fourth and final State of the State address, Gov. Corzine urged the public to remember him as a governor who made K-12 education a “cornerstone” of his term at the state’s helm. The former U.S. senator and Wall Street executive lost his job in November to Republican Chris Christie, who was due to be sworn in Jan. 19. Mr. Corzine trumpeted the new school funding formula he pushed through the legislature in 2008, noting that it survived a state Supreme Court challenge. The formula assigns a basic dollar amount to each child and adds “weights” for extra needs such as poverty. Mr. Corzine also called attention to his $4 billion school construction program and the expansion of full-day preschool to tens of thousands of 3- and 4-year-olds.
Gov. Bill Richardson told lawmakers that while there’s still room for “targeted cuts” in the proposed state budget of about $5 billion for fiscal 2011, he doesn’t want to cut teachers’ salaries or classroom spending. The governor’s staff could not give an immediate estimate for the K-12 portion of that budget proposal. Mr. Richardson lauded the state’s investment in increasing teachers’ salaries over the past decade. He also held up the state’s spending on prekindergarten and full-day kindergarten as valuable, saying that the first class of children who started as full-day kindergartners, who had risen to 3rd grade by last year, performed much better on standardized tests than 3rd graders who preceded them. The governor also pledged his support for “innovative charter schools.” They provide competition that is healthy for the state, he said in his speech to the legislature.
Gov. David A. Paterson has told state lawmakers that a multiyear fiscal-recovery plan is needed to bring the Empire State’s finances back into balance to avoid a repeat of such drastic budget measures as last month’s delay of $750 million in payments to school districts and local governments. That move, made to keep the state from running out of cash as it struggled with how to close a $3.2 billion gap in the current fiscal year’s general fund budget of roughly $55 billion, sparked a still-pending lawsuit from teachers’ unions and school officials. Roughly 3.1 million children are enrolled in New York’s K-12 public schools. In his Jan. 6 address to lawmakers, the Democratic governor made no direct reference to K-12 education, but called for greater fiscal discipline, including a cap on spending, to help the state grapple with what is likely to be a deficit of $9 billion in fiscal 2011, which begins April 1. Mr. Paterson focused his speech mostly on proposals to reform the state’s fiscal policies and ethics laws, and plans to boost economic development. The embattled governor, who took office upon the 2008 resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, may face a strong primary challenge in his bid later this year to win election in his own right.
While refraining from unveiling any new K-12 policy initiatives, Gov. Strickland pointed to the state’s fifth-place overall ranking in Education Week’s Quality Counts 2010 report as a validation of the state’s education policies. In particular, he credited the state’s Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative, saying it had “raised expectations and achievements” of black students in participating districts. Mr. Strickland also cited federal resources for helping Ohio maintain its financial commitment to education amid turbulent financial times, while he lamented education cuts in neighboring Indiana as well as in Georgia and California. “I believe in Ohio because we recognize that a superior education starting from the earliest age is the only path to sustained prosperity,” he told the legislature.
In his final State of the State address, Gov. Henry expressed pride in the progress made in education during his two terms as governor. Despite a $1.3 billion state budget shortfall, the governor vowed to protect funding for education in the current budget year. In fact, teacher salaries actually increased this school year, and the state began covering the full cost of teachers’ health insurance, he told state lawmakers. In addition, Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program was preserved in the current budget year, and the state has enacted full-day kindergarten as well as a voluntary pre-K program for its youngest learners. Gov. Henry also recognized the Achieving Classroom Excellence initiative, designed to raise academic standards and accountability. The state has applied for a Race to the Top grant under the federal economic-stimulus program, which, if granted, may go toward implementing performance-based teacher pay or building a comprehensive data system, he said.
Because of the state’s rainy-day fund, Oregon has had a balanced budget in recent years despite the poor economic climate. But Gov. Kulongoski warned that those days were numbered if changes weren’t made. The governor praised the legislature for increasing the commitment to early-childhood education by providing more funding for Head Start and Early Head Start. In February, the legislature created an early-childhood-education program for children from birth to age 3.
In his last budget address, Gov. Rendell singled out greater investments in the Keystone State’s public education system as one of the most important legacies of his two terms in office. Among the education accomplishments the term-limited governor highlighted were expanding support for preschool programs, raising the state’s share of education funding, and revamping the school funding formula to boost the poorest districts’ resources. In a speech that focused on managing state spending during perilous economic times, the governor proposed spending $5.9 billion on the biggest chunk of the state’s pre-K-12 education aid, its “basic subsidy,” for fiscal 2011. That represents a $354 million, or 6.4 percent, increase over the basic-subsidy level approved in the fiscal 2010 budget. Mr. Rendell proposed an overall state budget of $26.3 billion budget for 2011. Including federal stimulus-funding increases, the budget would come to $29 billion, which, if approved, would be a 4 percent increase over the current year’s spending plan. The governor also urged lawmakers to begin socking away money in a reserve fund to survive a “fiscal tsunami” that will begin taking shape in 2011, caused by a $4 billion increase in the state’s pension obligations and the end of $2.3 billion in federal stimulus aid.
In his final annual address, Gov. Carcieri highlighted the state’s bid for a Race to the Top grant under the federal economic-stimulus program and emphasized charter schools. But he did not detail whether education—one of three areas of “intense focus” outlined in the speech—would be subject to planned budget cuts. He praised the state’s higher education system, which he said is increasingly being integrated into Rhode Island’s economic-development planning, and said the state must work to improve K-12 education to match that success. Gov. Carcieri also highlighted Rhode Island’s participation in the New England Common Assessment Program and the state’s work in increasing the number of charter schools. “This is another revolution that Rhode Island can and should lead,” he said of the effort to boost those largely autonomous public schools, although he did not outline a plan for expansion.
In a final State of the State address that included an apology to his wife for an extramarital affair that led to calls for his removal from office, Gov. Mark Sanford praised the educational accomplishments of legislators during his two-term tenure. The governor, who is term-limited and in his last year in office, praised a charter school reform passed in 2006 that created a statewide body to approve charter proposals and a statewide district that runs all South Carolina charter schools. He also pointed to the creation of tech-prep programs by the state’s Education Economic Development Act, as well as improvements in the schools’ virtual-learning capacity, reforms to health and fitness curricula, and an increase in choice of state-funded early-childhood- education programs.
Now in his last year in office, Gov. Rounds spent much of his final State of the State address outlining what he sees as his accomplishments during the past eight years. They include the state’s new virtual school, efforts to expand Internet access and video-conferencing capabilities for classrooms, and the development of a statewide student-data system. Mr. Rounds said these examples serve as evidence that South Dakota is equipping schools for today’s learning needs. The state’s students, he said, deserve recognition for their improved performance on state and national assessments in reading and mathematics over the last several years.
In his first State of the State address, Gov. Herbert vowed to protect K-12 education from spending cuts amid the tough budgetary climate, and highlighted his plans to create a broad-based education commission to develop “new and innovative solutions” for public schools. As part of the $11.3 billion budget plan Gov. Herbert put forward in December for fiscal 2011, state spending on K-12 education would remain at $293 million, according to the governor’s office. He took office in mid-August after his predecessor, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., stepped down to become the U.S. ambassador to China. The new governor said he’s optimistic that the Governor’s Educational Excellence Commission, which he announced in December and will chair, will “find, develop, and implement” solutions to the state’s education ills. A spokesman for the governor said the commission would have 25 members “from across the state’s public and higher education communities, as well as the business community.” The governor also highlighted the need to emphasize education in the fields of science, technology, engneering, and mathematics.
In his annual address to lawmakers, Gov. Douglas proposed a series of steps aimed at reining in education costs that he sees as excessive and plugging a $150 million state budget deficit. If the Republican governor gets his way, the state will trim the size of its teacher workforce by leaving half of retirement vacancies unfilled; consolidate its 290 school districts into as few as 12; and require teachers to shoulder more of the burden for their health-insurance costs. The governor also called for reforming the state’s 13-year-old education property-tax law by reducing the number of exemptions for property owners and allowing schools to report when their enrollments decrease by as much as 10 percent. The latter proposal takes aim at a provision in the school-funding law that is intended to shield districts from dramatic decreases in per-pupil funding by prohibiting them from reporting enrollment drops of more than 3.5 percent. The state’s K-12 public school enrollment is about 93,000. “My proposals for education reform go to the heart of runaway spending,” Gov. Douglas said, saying they would result in $33 million in property tax relief. Mr. Douglas also called for eliminating a state law that bars students from using distance-learning programs that are located out of state.
Only two days after his inauguration as Virginia’s new chief executive, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell told state lawmakers that he hopes to open more charter schools, rechannel more administrative dollars to the classroom, and boost college-completion rates. In an address to a joint legislative session, Gov. McDonnell cautioned that cutbacks in spending would be required because he inherited a “dire” budget situation, but also said he would veto any proposed tax hike that affects “hardworking families.” The Republican said that he wants lawmakers in the session just begun to increase to 62 percent from 61 percent the portion of state education spending that reaches the classroom, and push that to 65 percent by the end of his four-year term. Virginia has only three charter schools now, he noted, but he promised to introduce a bill to help more of the largely independent public schools open. He also proposed beefing up math and science instruction in schools, and wants to see colleges and universities ramp up the number of degrees they confer in the next 15 years. Virginia’s constitution bars a governor from serving two consecutive terms, so Gov. McDonnell’s predecessor, Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, gave his final State of the Commonwealth address on Jan. 13. Gov. Kaine said that during his tenure, preschool programs were expanded by 40 percent, and that the expansion, combined with stronger reading-intervention strategies, had led to a “dramatic” increase in passing rates on 3rd grade reading tests. He also said he was particularly proud that Virginia had expanded its career and technical education programs, including a network of nine new Governor’s Career and Technical Academies.
Despite having a $2.6 billion state budget hole to fill for the remainder of the fiscal 2009-11 biennium, which has a total budget is $30 billion, Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington state is urging the legislature to preserve and strengthen an early-learning initiative started four years ago. In part, she says, lawmakers should do by adopting “All Start,” a voluntary program that would provide learning opportunities to all 3- and 4-year-olds in the state. In her annual address, the governor also said she and the state education department will present this year a new teacher-evaluation system that will focus on “high-quality instruction, and student achievement and growth.” She asked the legislature to support the overhaul, which would also tie principals’ evaluations to student achievement for the first time. Gov. Gregoire also called on legislators to lift the levy lid for school districts, which limits the amount of funds schools can raise through levies, and to finance levy equalization to make up for differences in levy revenue among districts. Lastly, although she acknowledged that budget troubles would persist into the 2011-13 biennium, Gov. Gregoire pushed to restore and preserve funds set aside for college-tuition assistance for low-income students.
In his fifth State of the State address, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III called on state lawmakers to pass a law that would enable districts to keep schools open 180 days a year for the Mountain State’s 268,000 K-12 students. “Our current law requires students to attend school for 180 days a year,” he said, “but let’s face the facts: This is not happening.” The Democratic governor also asked lawmakers to expand state borrowing authority to finance school safety improvements and other construction projects, pledged to enlarge a state program that provides free books to preschoolers, and said he would funnel $1 million into efforts by the Westport, Conn.-based Save the Children organization to improve health and economic opportunities for poor children in the state’s most rural counties. Mr. Manchin also said his state would apply for the first round of economic-stimulus grants available under the U.S. Department of Education’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund.
Gov. Doyle, now in his eighth and final year as governor, urged lawmakers to embrace his call for mayoral control of the Milwaukee school system, and vowed to protect aid for education from a new round of expected midyear cuts to the biennial budget he signed last June. “We need a superintendent appointed by the mayor who will have a clear mission of reform and the ability to drive real change, day after day, month after month, year after year,” he said. “If you do not act now, you will be picking up the pieces of a broken school system within a few years, and failing children who desperately need your help.” The governor’s plan appears to face an uphill climb in the legislature, however. In fact, he called a special session in December to enact such a governance measure, but lawmakers did not approve it. Overall, Mr. Doyle said education is central to the states future. All of the investments we are making in our economy, from agriculture to manufacturing to clean energy, must be built on a strong education system, he said.
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