• Gov. Brad Henry
In his State of the State Address, given Feb. 6, Gov. Brad Henry praised the legislature for passing his Achieving Classroom Excellence, or ACE, initiative last session. The student-achievement and -accountability measure was the focus of his 2005 address.
The Democratic governor also said that he and legislators “have worked to provide every child with a world-class education” in the Sooner State by raising teacher pay, setting up a state lottery to pay for education, and providing full-day kindergarten for all youngsters.
Teacher Pay: Mr. Henry urged lawmakers to continue financing his five-year plan to raise teacher pay to the regional average of $38,993. The legislature approved the first year of the plan in 2004 but did not fund it until last session.
The governor’s fiscal 2007 budget plan includes $56 million in appropriations for the second year of his teacher-pay initiative. That represents an average increase of more than $1,200 per teacher. More than $30 million of the proposed appropriation would come from lottery revenues.
“Classroom excellence will never be achieved without excellent teachers,” he said.
Finance: The governor’s proposed fiscal 2007 budget, which he did not cover in his speech, was released earlier in the month. In it, he also calls for an additional $5 million in incentives for National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification. The money would be used to increase the number of board-certified teachers, raise the award given to each certified teacher by $900, and cover other costs related to the program.
Another $5 million would pay for three new state high school subject tests that would be administered as part of the ACE initiative. Mr. Henry also recommends that $10 million be spent on remediation and intervention programs for students now in 6th grade, who will be the first class required to pass ACE exit exams to graduate from high school.
Overall, the governor’s fiscal 2007 budget for K-12 education is approximately $2.3 billion, an increase of 4.9 percent over fiscal 2006.