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STATE OF THE STATES: Nation’s Governors Focus on Education as State of the State Addresses Begin

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“As much as we do in our states, our economies are tightly linked to the national economy,” Markell said. “As a result, our states’ prosperity depends, in no small measure, on the ability of our public servants in Washington to come to terms on a path forward. The uncertainty from Washington and the reality of shrinking federal support hurts both our economies and our budgets.”

Saying that improving education goes “hand-in-hand” with job creation, Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D) delivered the National Governors Association’s (NGA) first-ever “State of the States” address on January 9 in Washington, DC. Markell, who is the 2012–13 NGA chairperson, said state economies are slowly recovering from the economic downturn and are only now returning to the revenues they collected in 2008.

Pointing to efforts such as the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted in forty-six states, and Race to the Top, Markell said governors are leading efforts to “ensure that students—regardless of race, income, disability, or zip code—receive a world-class public education to succeed in college, careers, or life.” He said having consistently high standards across states “provide teachers, parents, and students with a set of clear expectations that everyone can work toward together.”

Markell said the uncertainties from Washington, DC regarding looming federal spending cuts, the impending breach of the debt limit, and fundamental entitlement and tax reform must be resolved in order for states to make fully informed fiscal plans to address the needs of their citizens.

“As much as we do in our states, our economies are tightly linked to the national economy,” Markell said. “As a result, our states’ prosperity depends, in no small measure, on the ability of our public servants in Washington to come to terms on a path forward. The uncertainty from Washington and the reality of shrinking federal support hurts both our economies and our budgets.”

Connecticut: Malloy Focuses on Sandy Hook Elementary; Discusses Turnaround Plan for State’s Underperforming Schools

In his state of the state address on January 9Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (D) talked about the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy and pledged to improve response to those with mental health needs and “do everything in our power to ensure that Connecticut never again suffers such a loss … When it comes to preventing future acts of violence in our schools, let me say this: more guns are not the answer,” Malloy said. “Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher, and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom.”

Malloy also talked about the newly created “Commissioner’s Network,” which focuses on the state’s underperforming schools. Four schools—High School in the Community (New Haven); James J. Curiale School, a K–8 school in Bridgeport; John B. Stanton School, a pre-K–5 school in Norwich; and Thirman Milner School, a pre-K–7 school in Hartford—have already volunteered to be in the program and are receiving intensive intervention, increased instruction time, and improved collaboration among teachers and administrators.

New York: Cuomo Offers Flurry of Education Proposals

Saying New York’s “one-two punch is jobs and education,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) used his state of the state address on January 9 to call for extended learning time, a pay-for-performance model for colleges, expanded access to early education, and continued focus on attracting and incentivizing the best teachers.

Noting that American children, on average, spend fewer days in schools than their counterparts in Korea and Canada, Cuomo said the state would pay 100 percent of the additional cost to extend the school day beyond 3:00 p.m., start the school day earlier, or have a longer school year. Cuomo also called for an overhaul to the teacher training and certification process, including a “bar exam type test” that every person must pass to become a teacher.

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