Education State of the States

State of the States 2012: Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Jersey, Oregon,

January 24, 2012 9 min read
Lawmakers applaud during the State of the State speech by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in the state capitol in Atlanta.
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Here are summaries of recent annual addresses by governors around the country.

COLORADO

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) • Jan. 12

Finding additional revenue for education is “one of our greatest budget pressures,” declared Gov. John Hickenlooper in his State of the State address. Noting voters’ rejection in November of a ballot measure to increase sales and income taxes to pay for schools, he said the key is further economic development. “That is one reason job growth is so critical,” he said.

The governor also referenced a 2011 district court decision to strike down the state’s school finance system, reiterating his intention to appeal it to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the governor said efforts are under way on what he called bipartisan legislation “to make Colorado a national model for early literacy,” and he urged lawmakers to back it. He also called on them to approve rules to implement a new teacher-evaluation system for the state, as well as $7.7 million to help the state implement that approach.

—Erik W. Robelen

DELAWARE

Gov. Jack Markell (D) • Jan. 19

Expanded support for early-childhood programs and revamping teacher evaluation were the centerpieces of Gov. Jack Markell’s education agenda in his State of the State address.

Gov. Markell said that even though Delaware’s two federal Race to the Top grants—including one for its early-childhood plans—show leadership in education, it’s time to “press ahead” with further improvements. Chief among them are implementing a teacher-evaluation system, based in part on students’ progress, and making bigger investments in early-childhood education, he said.

Topping the early-childhood list is the training of its professionals, equipping classrooms with the best instructional tools possible, and monitoring centers’ work to ensure continual improvement. Gov. Markell wants to have 80 percent of the state’s needy preschoolers in high-quality programs in four years, up from the current 20 percent.

He also called for expansion of the state’s world-language initiative. Delaware students are already required to study a foreign language to graduate from high school. The governor now proposes creating half-day foreign-language immersion programs in 20 schools.

—Catherine Gewertz

GEORGIA

Gov. Nathan Deal (R) • Jan. 10

In his second State of the State address, Gov. Nathan Deal gave a more bullish speech than his first, proclaiming that Georgians had successfully climbed “a mountain” during a past year that offered substantial financial difficulties. And in announcing moderate increases in education spending going forward, he declared that “our schools are the frontline in our effort to create prosperity.”

Gov. Deal’s fiscal 2013 budget would pour nearly $200 million into the state’s general education fund, an increase of 2.9 percent from initial fiscal 2012 state funding levels, which were increased during the fiscal year. The total proposed education department budget for fiscal 2013 would rise to $8.2 billion, from $8.5 billion, including federal funds.

The first-term governor also praised legislation that made slight cuts to keep the state’s hope college-scholarship program alive during last year’s legislative session. The program now offers full scholarships only to students who graduate high school with a 3.7 grade point average and 1200 sat score attending in-state postsecondary institutions, and partial scholarships to other students previously eligible for full scholarships.

The governor’s budget also proposes extending the prekindergarten school year from 160 to 170 days. He also announced the creation of the Go Build Georgia vocational-training initiative, a public-private partnership designed to educate young people and the public at-large about skilled trades.

—Ian Quillen

INDIANA

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) • Jan. 10

Gov. Mitch Daniels, who proclaimed that no other state devotes more of its money to education, urged lawmakers this year to focus their attention on ending the “cruel, defeatist practice” of promoting students to 4th grade even if they cannot read by the end of 3rd grade.

He also called on the Indiana General Assembly to take a bite out of rising college costs by empowering the state’s higher education governing body to control “credit creep,” in which some colleges and universities require more credits—and tuition—for graduation from certain programs than do other colleges.

In his speech, Gov. Daniels also praised lawmakers for changing teacher-evaluation laws and creating a statewide voucher program to help students transfer to other schools, including private ones.

—Michele McNeil

IOWA

Gov. Terry Branstad (R) • Jan. 10

Gov. Terry Branstad told state lawmakers in his annual addressthat he’d like to beef up entrance standards for teacher colleges, create a new assessment to figure out how well kindergartners are learning, and establish an Innovation Acceleration Fund offering competitive grants to schools to scale up promising practices.

“Iowa has some highly innovative schools, and we should encourage more schools to be innovative,” Gov. Branstad said. “Youngsters need more opportunities to engage in real-world experiences—including internships—in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Mr. Branstad also said the department of education would work with educators to develop standards for a range of subjects, including the arts, music, character education, physical education, foreign language, and “entrepreneurship education.” He also said the department would work with teachers to craft end-of-course tests for key subjects to make sure high school graduates are prepared for college or the workforce.

—Alyson Klein

KENTUCKY

Gov. Steven L. Beshear (D) • Jan. 4

As soon as state revenues recover, Gov. Steven L. Beshear pledges to invest more money in early-childhood education, saying in his State of the State address that “nothing will have more impact on the future of this state.” He also urged lawmakers to create an early childhood advisory council to coordinate early-childhood education in the state—a council he created by executive order but wants put into law.

Gov. Beshear also used his speech to call for improving career and technical education in the state. He wants to move the state program, currently housed in the Kentucky workforce investment, into the education department.

And he wants lawmakers to increase the dropout age to 18 from 16—a change he’s sought, unsuccessfully, during the past two legislative sessions. “In Kentucky alone, 6,000 students drop out before their 18th birthday every year,” he said. “As a direct result, they are more likely to be unemployed, to earn significantly less money when they do find work, and to find themselves on welfare or in prison. By letting them jeopardize their future, we are failing our youth, and we are costing Kentucky taxpayers millions of dollars.”

—M.M.

MISSOURI

Gov. Jay Nixon (D) • Jan. 17

Higher education in the state faces a budget cut, but K-12 education would receive a net increase in aid under a $23 billion fiscal 2013 budget proposal released by Gov. Jay Nixon in his address to the state’s general assembly.

Mr. Nixon proposed spending about $3 billion for state aid to elementary and secondary education, up from $2.8 billion in fiscal 2012. Community colleges and universities would have to absorb a $106 million cut, to about $741 million under his proposal. The university system has had to face cuts for the previous two years.

“I haven’t met one parent or one teacher in Missouri who thinks we should balance our budget by taking money from their kids’ classrooms,” the governor said. But, he added, the state’s colleges and universities must continue to look for more ways to cut overhead and administrative costs and “run smarter, more-efficient operations.”

—Christina A. Samuels

NEBRASKA

Gov. Dave Heineman (R) • Jan. 12

Gov. Dave Heineman used his State of the State address to talk only in broad terms about the condition of education in Nebraska, declaring that the state has “economic and education momentum.”

“Working with our citizens, we have developed a bold, innovative, and strategic vision to grow our economy and to strengthen our education system,” he said. Gov. Heineman offered no new K-12 proposals, and instead focused on a major tax proposal he’s backing that would lower tax rates for businesses and low-income and middle-class families.

—M.M.

NEW JERSEY

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers his State of the State address in Trenton. The governor leaned hard on teacher issues and also called for expansion of the charter school sector, along with tax credits for companies that contribute to scholarships for students use for private-school tuition.

Gov. Chris Christie (R) • Jan. 17

Gov. Chris Christie’s second State of the State address featured familiar calls for education reforms that sparked battles with state lawmakers last year, and chief among them was revamping teacher evaluation and tenure.

The governor called for legislation that would allow easier replacement of underperforming teachers, regardless of seniority. He called for teachers to be evaluated according to classroom observations and growth in their students’ test scores. And he proposed that tenure be given to those who get strong ratings under such a system and taken away from those who don’t. He also recommended higher pay for teachers who teach in failing schools or high-need subject areas and assigning teachers to schools only with the consent of both teacher and principal.

The chief executive noted that the Democrat-controlled legislature recently passed—and he signed—a law allowing three low-performing districts to partner with private organizations to create charter like “Renaissance” schools. But that’s only a start, he said. Mr. Christie called for expansion of the charter school sector and tax credits for companies that contribute to scholarships for students to use to pay private-school tuition.

—C.G.

OREGON

Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) • Jan. 13

In his annual State of the State address, Gov. John Kitzhaber commended legislators on creating the Oregon Education Investment Board, promoting more professional development for teachers, advancing more learning options for students, and establishing the Early Learning Council in order to investigate early-childhood education services in the state. He urged legislators to support a new early-learning bill that would help streamline disparate early-childhood-education programs in the state and put measures in place to evaluate their efficacy.

He also called on lawmakers to pass an education bill that would pave the way to a waiver from some provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. Instead of a federal compliance-based system, the bill would create a system to include agreements between the state and educational institutions such as school districts, universities, and colleges, all working together on educational achievement compacts. The aim would be to reach the statewide goal of a 100 percent high school graduation rate by 2025, up from the state’s current graduation rate of 65 percent.

“We can continue the decade-long experiment with the No Child Left Behind law and its one-size-fits-all approach to school accountability, or we can adopt our own tailored approach to improve student outcomes,” Gov. Kitzhaber said.

—Katie Ash

A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2012 edition of Education Week as State of the States

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