State of the States
State of the States Coverage: California, Connecticut, Kentucky, North Dakota
Here are summaries of recent annual addresses by governors around the country.
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) • Jan. 5
In his inaugural address and annual report to the state legislature, Gov. Brown lauded the state's recent changes to how, and by how much, schools are funded and highlighted the need to recruit and train "tens of thousands" of teachers.
Gov. Brown said that the state's Local Control Funding Formula, which he signed into law in 2013, has helped foster "a much fairer system of school funding" that also gives districts more power over how they spend money on needy students, such as those from low-income families. While stressing the importance of the teaching profession, he also cautioned against overaggressive policy regarding teachers' classroom work.
"Teachers need to be held accountable but never forget: They have a tough job to do. They need our encouragement, not endless regulations and micromanagement from afar," the governor told lawmakers.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D) • Jan. 7
The governor alluded only briefly to education in his transportation-focused state address, saying that over the past four years, his administration has "built better schools, raised test scores, made college more affordable, and put Connecticut on a path toward universal prekindergarten."
But Connecticut has received some good news recently on the education front. Last month, the federal government awarded the state $12.5 million to expand its preschool program. Seventeen other states also received money through the Preschool Development Grant program. The federal early-education money is in addition to an $105 million state-funded initiative approved in April 2014 that will pay for public schools to renovate classrooms to serve 3- and 4-year-olds.
Gov. Steve Beshear (D) • Jan. 7
In his final address to the state legislature, outgoing Gov. Beshear—who is term-limited and will leave office after the election later this year—highlighted the strides Kentucky is making in increasing student achievement and laid out a framework for how the state can continue on its upward trajectory.
Noting that Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core State Standards, Gov. Beshear cited an annual study that found that 62 percent of the state's 12th graders graduated college- and career-ready in 2014, up from 38 percent in 2011.
He also underscored the importance of his administration's efforts to provide better health care and preschool opportunities for children in low-income families, giving a shout-out to the state's new screening system that gauges whether early-education programs are properly preparing children for kindergarten.
Gov. Beshear called on lawmakers to support an early-childhood educator measure, known as ALL-STARS, that he pushed last year that would increase monitoring of programs and provide teachers with continuing education and information regarding nutrition and age-appropriate curriculum for students. He also urged the legislature to move quickly to pass legislation that is designed to help students earn degrees more quickly and at less cost, a recommendation of a state higher education task force.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) • Jan. 6
The governor gave passing mention to education in his annual address to state lawmakers, citing the state's fast-growing K-12 population and the need for more school construction. He recommended adding $300 million to the state's school construction revolving-loan program to accommodate the growth. Since 2010, North Dakota has added 10,500 students, and 22 districts have used the loan program to build, expand, or improve facilities.
Gov. Dalrymple cited a 2014 Gallup poll of residents in each of the 50 states, which found that North Dakotans had the highest rating on satisfaction with their education system. He also called for strategic investments in higher education, with a focus on making college more affordable in a state that has seen an economic boom in the past decade thanks to the oil and gas industry.
Vol. 34, Issue 17, Page 14Published in Print: January 14, 2015, as State of the States