States State of the States

State of the States 2010: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin

February 02, 2010 9 min read
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For complete coverage of this year’s governors’ speeches, check out State of the States 2010.

ALASKA

Gov. Sean Parnell (R) | Jan. 20

In his first State of the State address to lawmakers, Gov. Parnell advocated a merit-scholarship plan that would aid students who completed a more-rigorous curriculum than is currently required for high school graduation.

The curriculum for the proposed Governor’s Performance Scholarship program would require four years of math, science, and English and three years of social studies. Students who completed that coursework with a C-plus average would earn 50 percent of their tuition, while students with a B average would receive 75 percent, and students with an A average would have 100 percent of their tuition paid for by the state. The aid could be used for in-state college tuition or a job-training program.

Mr. Parnell, who moved up from the lieutenant governorship after the resignation of Gov. Sarah Palin last year, proposed paying for the scholarship program by starting a savings account with $400 million and using the interest and investment earnings. He also pledged to use some of the money from the state’s 2010 budget surplus to pay for school construction projects, especially in needy rural areas. —Katie Ash

DELAWARE

Gov. Jack Markell (D) | Jan. 21

Gov. Markell touted a new education reform framework that he hopes will provide all children with a “world-class education,” a key ingredient in building the state’s economy.

In his address to state legislators, he urged support for high academic standards and for new steps to ensure teacher quality and students’ college readiness. He said the state will work to turn around low-performing schools, will intervene when they fail, and will make better use of data and new assessments to improve instruction.

To build a better corps of teachers and principals, Gov. Markell pledged to work with the state’s colleges to establish teacher-residency and leadership-preparation programs. He said that teachers who “produce results” in high-need schools should be better compensated, but did not provide details about how he thinks those results should be measured.

Under a new evaluation system, new teachers can’t get tenure unless their students show significant growth, the governor said. He also said that the state will improve teacher-preparation programs by linking data about their performance back to those programs. —Catherine Gewertz

HAWAII

Gov. Linda Lingle (R) | Jan. 25

Gov. Lingle expressed disappointment in the progress of Hawaii’s education system over her tenure. Too many authorities—the governor, the legislature, the state board of education, and the state superintendent—play a role in education, which makes it difficult for citizens to hold any one of them accountable for results, she said.

Gov. Lingle, who can’t seek re-election because of term limits, proposed a constitutional amendment that would make the department of education a Cabinet agency with a superintendent chosen by the governor. She pointed to the robotics initiative headed by the governor’s office in 2007 as proof of the governor’s ability to make an impact on education. In addition, she announced that she would allocate $10 million in federal economic-stimulus aid to start robotics programs in every regular public school and charter school in the state by next year. —K.A.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Gov. John Lynch (D) | Jan. 21

While focusing mostly on maintaining and creating jobs for Granite State residents, Gov. John Lynch also used his State of the State address to announce that high school dropout rates across the state had dropped 30 percent over the last year. He attributed the change to efforts he led to raise the minimum legal dropout age from 16 to 18 and to an expansion of education alternatives for students who would otherwise drop out of school. He said 24 of the state’s 80 high schools cut their dropout numbers by at least 50 percent. —Debra Viadero

MAINE

Gov. John Baldacci (D) | Jan. 21

Gov. Baldacci called in his annual address for a new evaluation system for teachers and principals. Growth in student achievement, he said, must be part of how an educator’s job performance is judged.

The governor, who is serving the final year of his second, four-year term, did not reveal any details of his proposal to the assembled lawmakers, but he noted that incorporating student achievement into educators’ evaluations is a priority in the federal economic-stimulus program’s Race to the Top grant competition. Maine was one of 10 states that did not apply for a piece of the $4 billion in grants in the first round.

Maine officials announced last fall that they would sit out the first round in order to enact new legislation to make their application more competitive. The state has been resistant to enacting legislation that would allow charter schools to open. Instead, Gov. Baldacci said he would support charter-like flexibility for regular public schools that would include managing their own budgets, setting their own schedules, and trying “creative approaches” to curriculum and instruction. —Lesli A. Maxwell

MASSACHUSETTS

Gov. Deval Patrick (D) | Jan. 21

Gov. Patrick pledged to protect education spending despite Massachusetts’ continuing fiscal challenges, telling lawmakers in his third State of the State address that he will present a budget for fiscal 2011 that ensures that “no school will see a cut in state support.”

The governor, who faces re-election this year, also highlighted a new package of education measures he recently signed that, among other provisions, will allow more charter schools to open around the state. The legislation also allows for the creation of in-district “innovation schools” that would have more flexibility regarding collective bargaining agreements than regular district schools do.

For fiscal 2010, the state allotted roughly $4.3 billion to K-12 school aid, about 21 percent of the state’s $27 billion budget. —L.A.M.

OHIO

Gov. Ted Strickland (D) | Jan. 26

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland gives his State of the State address to the legislature last week as Senate President Bill Harris, center, and House Speaker Armond Budish look on. He said economic-stimulus aid helped Ohio avoid education cuts in a tough economy.

While refraining from unveiling any new K-12 policy initiatives, Gov. Strickland pointed to the state’s fifth-place overall ranking in Education Week’s Quality Counts 2010 report as a validation of the state’s education policies. In particular, he credited the state’s Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative, saying it had “raised expectations and achievements” of black students in participating districts.

Mr. Strickland also cited federal resources for helping Ohio maintain its financial commitment to education amid turbulent financial times, while he lamented education cuts in neighboring Indiana as well as in Georgia and California.

“I believe in Ohio because we recognize that a superior education starting from the earliest age is the only path to sustained prosperity,” he told the legislature. —Ian Quillen

RHODE ISLAND

Gov. Donald L. Carcieri (R) | Jan. 26

In his final annual address, Gov. Carcieri highlighted the state’s bid for a Race to the Top grant under the federal economic-stimulus program and emphasized charter schools. But he did not detail whether education—one of three areas of “intense focus” outlined in the speech—would be subject to planned budget cuts. He praised the state’s higher education system, which he said is increasingly being integrated into Rhode Island’s economic-development planning, and said the state must work to improve K-12 education to match that success.

Gov. Carcieri also highlighted Rhode Island’s participation in the New England Common Assessment Program and the state’s work in increasing the number of charter schools. “This is another revolution that Rhode Island can and should lead,” he said of the effort to boost those largely autonomous public schools, although he did not outline a plan for expansion.—Stephen Sawchuk

SOUTH CAROLINA

Gov. Mark Sanford (R) | Jan. 20

Gov. Mark Sanford gives his State of the State address Jan. 20 at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia.

In a final State of the State address that included an apology to his wife for an extramarital affair that led to calls for his removal from office, Gov. Mark Sanford praised the educational accomplishments of legislators during his two-term tenure.

The governor, who is term-limited and in his last year in office, praised a charter school reform passed in 2006 that created a statewide body to approve charter proposals and a statewide district that runs all South Carolina charter schools.

He also pointed to the creation of tech-prep programs by the state’s Education Economic Development Act, as well as improvements in the schools’ virtual-learning capacity, reforms to health and fitness curricula, and an increase in choice of state-funded early-childhood- education programs. —I.Q.

UTAH

Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R) | Jan. 26

In his first State of the State address, Gov. Herbert vowed to protect K-12 education from spending cuts amid the tough budgetary climate, and highlighted his plans to create a broad-based education commission to develop “new and innovative solutions” for public schools.

As part of the $11.3 billion budget plan Gov. Herbert put forward in December for fiscal 2011, state spending on K-12 education would remain at $293 million, according to the governor’s office. He took office in mid-August after his predecessor, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., stepped down to become the U.S. ambassador to China.

The new governor said he’s optimistic that the Governor’s Educational Excellence Commission, which he announced in December and will chair, will “find, develop, and implement” solutions to the state’s education ills. A spokesman for the governor said the commission would have 25 members “from across the state’s public and higher education communities, as well as the business community.”

The governor also highlighted the need to emphasize education in the fields of science, technology, engneering, and mathematics. —Erik W. Robelen

WISCONSIN

Gov. James E. Doyle (D) | Jan. 26

Gov. Doyle, now in his eighth and final year as governor, urged lawmakers to embrace his call for mayoral control of the Milwaukee school system, and vowed to protect aid for education from a new round of expected midyear cuts to the biennial budget he signed last June.

“We need a superintendent appointed by the mayor who will have a clear mission of reform and the ability to drive real change, day after day, month after month, year after year,” he said. “If you do not act now, you will be picking up the pieces of a broken school system within a few years, and failing children who desperately need your help.”

The governor’s plan appears to face an uphill climb in the legislature, however. In fact, he called a special session in December to enact such a governance measure, but lawmakers did not approve it.

Overall, Mr. Doyle said education is central to the states future. All of the investments we are making in our economy, from agriculture to manufacturing to clean energy, must be built on a strong education system, he said. —E.W.R.

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A version of this article appeared in the February 03, 2010 edition of Education Week as State of the States

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