States

State of the States: Colo., Ind., N.M., S.C., Va.

January 24, 2017 3 min read
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Here are summaries of recent annual addresses by governors around the country.

Colorado

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) • Jan. 12

The governor introduced a goal of giving 100 percent of Colorado access to high-speed internet by 2020. Every school, hospital, clinic, and home should have high-speed internet, Hickenlooper said. Currently, 70 percent of households have access, and he hopes the creation of a broadband office will lift that figure to 85 percent before he leaves office.

“Tonight, somewhere in one of these communities, a high school student will sit in a parked car outside her town library. She’ll huddle over her laptop, face glowing from the screen as she tries to finish her paper, because it’s the only place she can get Wi-Fi,” he said. “This isn’t right.”

—Evie Blad

Indiana

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb (R) • Jan. 17

Education—or creating “a 21st-century skilled and ready workforce"—was one of the five key pillars that Holcomb outlined in his first State of the State address.

He called for making the post of state superintendent of public instruction an appointed position as of 2021;increasing pre-K funding; streamlining state funds for science, technology, engineering, and math programs; and creating a skilled workforce to replace retiring baby boomers and to prepare for new jobs that will be created.

On the budget front, he seeks to double the state’s investment in pre-K, to the tune of $20 million annually. He also wants to add $1 million a year to better coordinate K-12 STEM programs, $1 million to improve internet connectivity to schools that do not currently have Wi-Fi, and $2 million to create regional Jobs Ready Grants to help workers obtain credentials or certificates in high-demand, high-paying fields.

Former state schools chief Glenda Ritz, a Democrat who lost to Republican Jennifer McCormick in the November election, was often at odds with former GOP Gov. Mike Pence, the new vice president.

“Education is a key to our state’s future,” Holcomb said. “And I’ve long been committed to the notion that, as the state’s chief executive, the governor should set education priorities and be held accountable for the results.”

—Denisa R. Superville

New Mexico

Gov. Susana Martinez (R) • Jan. 17

Citing the state’s 71 percent high school graduation rate, an all-time high for the Land of Enchantment, and increased access to Advanced Placement exams for all students, Martinez said the state has made strides in improving education but still must do more to ensure its youngest students are learning.

To that end, the governor used her 45-minute address to resume her push to hold back struggling 3rd graders who are not reading at grade level.

She also cited the state’s investment in early-childhood education and discussed her plans to keep more students in school by revoking or denying drivers’ licenses for habitually truant students.

—Corey Mitchell

South Carolina

Gov. Nikki Haley (R) • Jan. 11

Haley touted her efforts to improve the state’s public schools during her six years in office, in what would be her last State of the State address if she is confirmed as President Donald Trump’s pick for United Nations ambassador.

The governor pointed to updating the state’s school funding formula to give more weight to gifted students and those in poverty, as well as an initiative to boost education technology in rural districts and give bonuses to teachers who committed to go to high-needs schools. She also noted that the state now requires students to read on grade level to be promoted beyond 3rd grade.She has proposed chartering 20 nonprofit “opportunity schools” in the state to enroll 8,000 students in the next decade.

—Sarah D. Sparks

Virginia

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) • Jan. 11

In his final State of the Commonwealth address, McAuliffe, who is term-limited, drew attention to the state’s work to revamp high school, saying that it will better prepare students for the 21st-century economy Virginia has worked hard to build after the Great Recession.

The governor signed legislation in 2016 that directed the state board of education to make it easier for career and technical education students to count their coursework toward a diploma. Those changes, still being drafted, are to take effect with 2018’s class of entering freshmen. The law is also designed to make it easier for industry professionals to teach in career-tech programs by providing them with temporary credentials.

McAuliffe noted that the legislature hit a record-high level of investment in public education last year: $1 billion. He said he aims to provide full-time virtual instruction to every Virginia student in 2017.

—Catherine Gewertz

A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2017 edition of Education Week as State of the States


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