States State of the States

2013 State of the States: N.H., N.J., Va., Wyo.

January 15, 2013 3 min read
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, fist bumps Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney as the governor prepares to deliver his State of the State address at the Statehouse in Trenton.

Here are summaries of recent annual addresses by governors around the country.


Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) • Jan. 3

In her inaugural address at her swearing-in ceremony, Gov. Maggie Hassan noted a desire to reverse course on spending cuts affecting education over the past few years. “It hurt our young people and, if not quickly addressed, will impair our future economic prosperity,” she said in prepared remarks. She urged the state’s university system to boost the number of students admitted and freeze in-state tuition.

Ms. Hassan, the daughter of educators and the wife of the head of Phillips Exeter Academy, a private, college-preparatory school, applauded the state’s community college system for its adaptation to the needs of New Hampshire residents who choose paths other than traditional universities. “We must continue to support their efforts to build the strong workforce that our businesses need,” she said.

She specifically mentioned that the state must work with the education system and the business community to ensure a “robust and rigorous education” for all students, including in stem fields, noting the state’s colleges and universities’ goal of doubling the number of science, technology, engineering, and math graduates by 2025. “We should embrace that goal and make achieving it a state priority,” she said.

—Nirvi Shah


Gov. Chris Christie (R) • Jan. 8

In a year dominated by the Garden State’s efforts to recover from Hurricane Sandy, education had a low profile in Gov. Chris Christie’s third State of the State address.

The Republican executive made sure, however, to highlight his work last year to expand school choice and to rework teacher tenure.

Despite “entrenched resistance,” Mr. Christie said, the state passed “the first major reform of tenure in 100 years"—an August law that connects tenure to performance and makes teacher dismissals easier. He also mentioned the new Newark teachers’ contract, which includes merit pay.

The number of charter schools grew to 86, a record level in the state, the governor said, and an interdistrict school choice program has expanded to include 6,000 students.

He made no mention of his plans for K-12 in the coming year.

—Catherine Gewertz


Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) • Jan. 9

In his State of the Commonwealth address, Virginia’s governor proposed giving teachers a 2 percent raise, but tying it to passage of a law that would extend their probationary periods and make it easier to fire them if they underperform.

“Good teachers will advance andflourish; poor ones will not,” Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said.

In a speech dominated by education issues, the Republican chief executive asked lawmakers to approve legislation that would place a reading specialist in every elementary school that scores low on the state’s reading test. He also proposed an A-F system of ranking schools by performance, expansion of charter school laws, and creation of a new school turnaround department that could take over schools after two years of low performance.

—Catherine Gewertz


Gov. Matt Mead (R) • Jan. 9

In his Jan. 9 address, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead called on the legislature, the state education department, and his own office to put aside their differences and work together to implement a new school accountability law.

Apparent friction between lawmakers and state schools Superintendent Cindy Hill resulted in legislation last year that required the governor’s office to sign off on some education spending. Later, a controversial report from the nonpartisan Legislative Services Office questioned the education department’s capacity and commitment to implementing tasks related to the accountability overhaul bill, which passed last March.

Gov. Mead said, however, that the fragmentation of responsibility wasn’t working. “We have seen that siphoning off pieces of the department of education leads to inconsistency and the friction we’ve seen over the last year,” he said. “We are mired down with disputes that are not necessary.”

Without spelling out any particular initiatives, he said that the agencies should find ways to prioritize issues such as higher school graduation rates, dual-immersion language opportunities, charter schools, career-technical education, and school violence.

—Stephen Sawchuk

A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2013 edition of Education Week as State of the States


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