Education State of the States

State of the States 2012: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wyoming

February 21, 2012 3 min read
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Here are summaries of recent annual addresses by governors around the country.

OHIO

Gov. John Kasich (R) • Feb. 7

With a high-performing elementary school as his backdrop, Gov. John Kasich touted his record on education so far, but offered little in the way of new policies—though he carved out time to praise a schools proposal coming out of Cleveland.

Gov. Kasich, a first-term Republican, focused mostly on job creation and other economic themes in his State of the State speech, delivered at Wells Academy in Steubenville, in the eastern part of the state. He praised the academy’s use of data and its promotion of collaboration by teachers and administration in an effort to improve instruction.

He spoke of Ohio’s expansion of private school vouchers and charter schools and the introduction of Teach For America in the state. Last year, Mr. Kasich and GOP lawmakers drew nationwide attention with their approval of a controversial law that would have greatly reduced the collective bargaining powers of teachers and other public employees. But voters, in a ballot proposal decided in November, soundly rejected that measure.

The governor also pledged to work with Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, a Democrat, on the mayor’s ambitious education agenda, which includes supporting charter schools, closing low-performing schools, curbing seniority-based preferences in personnel decisions, reducing the central district office’s clout, and providing successful schools with more autonomy. Some of those changes are likely to require state legislative approval.

“I’m counting on Cleveland to deliver the goods,” Mr. Kasich said. “We can change urban education in Ohio and change urban education in America. And that is worth fighting for and risking for.”

—Sean Cavanagh

PENNSYLVANIA

Gov. Tom Corbett (R) • Feb. 7

In offering a fiscal year 2013 budget to state lawmakers, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed flat-funding K-12 education.

Since Pennsylvania governors do not give State of the State addresses, the annual budget address serves as a key signal of the chief executive’s policy priorities. Gov. Corbett’s proposed $27.1 billion fiscal 2013 spending plan, unveiled as he gave his speech, includes a mixed bag for education.

Instead of the deep cuts to K-12 education the governor sought last year, his proposal for 2013 keeps the biggest piece of the precollegiate budget, the basic education subsidy, at about the same level as last year: $5.4 billion. His plan for higher education, however, includes more pain: The state’s support of public universities would drop by as much as 30 percent.

Gov. Corbett also proposes combining the basic education funding into one block grant with several other education-related allocations and allowing local districts and counties more discretion in how they use the money. In addition, he wants to reduce the number of state-planned high school exit exams from 10 to three.

—Catherine Gewertz

WYOMING

Gov. Matt Mead (R) • Feb. 13

In his annual speech kicking off the Wyoming legislature’s budget session, Gov. Matt Mead mounted a defense of his state’s adoption of the common-core standards in June 2010.

“Now is the time, without regard to what the federal government may want us to do, or not want us to do, for us to step up, refuse to be left behind, and to accept common-core standards as determined by Wyoming citizens. We are not by doing this signing on to federal curricula. ... If the federal government tries to steer us in a direction we don’t want to go, we can simply refuse.”

Gov. Mead also referenced the need for educational accountability. A joint education committee has been pushing the legislature to adopt a bill revamping the state’s assessment and school rating system. “We need accountability in our schools, accountability in our parents,” he said. “And with every decision, all of us should make it known that mediocrity is not acceptable.”

—Stephen Sawchuk

A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as State of the State

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