Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 18
STATE of the STATES
Here are summaries of recent annual addresses
by governors around the country.
States Wrangle Over K-12 Aid
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By Daarel Burnette II
Because education funding can account for up to half of
states' budgets, the debate over how much schools get tends
to dominate legislative sessions, which are now in full swing.
The debate is especially heated in states looking to overhaul
their education funding formulas, some in response to court
rulings. And in some states, the picture is complicated by
budget shortfalls that threaten deep cuts for K-12 education.
Among the states to keep an eye on this year as they look to
make fundamental changes to their funding formula are:
Amid a $1.7 billion budget deﬁcit and after a damning
district court ruling deemed the state's funding formula
inequitable and inadequate, Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat,
this year proposed cutting overall education spending and
shifting more money to the state's impoverished districts.
Last week, dozens of school leaders from poor and wealthier
districts protested the changes, and lawmakers were
scrambling to come up with a budget the entire state can
The state has one of the nation's oldest-and by many
measures, most complicated-K-12 funding formulas.
Instead of distributing its money per pupil, it distributes
it per teacher. Similarly, the formula is one of the few
that do not provide more money to schools for educating
impoverished students and those with disabilities. The
state is also one of a few that have never been sued over
school funding. This year, the state legislature is considering
whether to provide more funding to districts that serve
students with disabilities in K-3. But the state is facing an
estimated $350 million budget deﬁcit, and many supporters
of the overhaul bill worry that it won't pass.
The decades-long legal ﬁght over Kansas' funding formula
reached a crescendo last year when the state's supreme
court threatened to shut down the public schools unless
the legislature more equitably distributed state aid. The
legislature conceded, but the court has yet to decide another
key provision of the lawsuit, Gannon v. Kansas: whether the
K-12 funding level is adequate under the state constitution.
Meanwhile, legislators are considering several proposals on
how to replace the state's block-grant program for districts,
which expires this year. The state has struggled with severe
budget shortfalls after Republican Gov. Sam Brownback
slashed state taxes in 2012 and 2013.
For the past two years, Illinois has dealt with a budget
impasse that's left its higher education system and some
civic services without any state aid. Gov. Bruce Rauner, a
Republican, and the state's Democratic-controlled legislature
have reached a stalemate over how to distribute the state's
shrinking pot of tax money. A bipartisan task force last
month recommended ways to overhaul the K-12 funding
formula. Republicans want to lower taxes. Democrats want
to raise them. And competing advocates in Chicago, its
suburbs, and downstate Illinois are all ﬁghting one another
for a bigger part of the funding pie. Last week, the Illinois
state school board settled a nine-year school funding lawsuit
ﬁled by Chicago's Urban League by agreeing to cap cuts to
its spending and come up with a different funding formula if
some districts don't get an "adequate" amount.
The legislature last year commissioned a study on
redesigning the education spending formula. At an
average $8,263 per student, Mississippi has one of the
lowest per-pupil spending levels in the country, and local
superintendents have long complained that funding has a
direct correlation to student outcomes. The commissioned
study, conducted by EdBuild, a school ﬁnance consulting
ﬁrm, proposes, among other things, to increase funding for
18 | EDUCATION WEEK | March 1, 2017 | www.edweek.org
districts with a disproportionate number of impoverished
students and decrease funding for wealthy suburban
districts. Lawmakers are at odds over what the local share
should be, what the state share should be, and what the
state can afford. GOP Gov. Phil Bryant said he will call
a special session if lawmakers come to an agreement on
how to change the funding formula this year. A special
session will allow the public more time to vet any plan the
legislature comes up with, he said.
Last year, Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, proposed
replacing the state's K-12 funding formula by more equally
distributing state aid among the state's wealthy, rural,
and urban school districts. His proposal would have cost
urban districts a large share of education aid and almost
doubled the amount of state aid suburban districts get. But
New Jersey's high court ruled that the governor's proposal
violated the long-standing Abbott v. Burke decision, which
dictates how (and how much) the state spends on its public
schools. That'll make any dramatic changes this year difﬁcult
for the governor.
Similar to their counterparts in Kansas, Washington
state legislators this year have to come up with an answer
to a state supreme court ruling. Republicans have pushed
back against raising taxes to satisfy the 2012 McCleary v.
State of Washington ruling that the state pick up a greater
share of education costs. Since that ruling, the state has
altogether increased its education funding by $2 billion but
has yet to address the most expensive part of the ruling,
which is to increase teacher pay. Some ofﬁcials estimate
the teacher-pay portion would cost $2.75 billion over the
next three years. In the meantime, the court is ﬁning
the legislature $100,000 for every day lawmakers are in
session and don't come up with a new funding formula.
That amounts to about $36.5 million per session. The court
set a deadline of September 2018.
In his third State of the State address, Bullock urged the
legislature to fund early-childhood education, proposing a $12
million preschool grant program for low-income 4-year-olds.
"Like the other 45 states that have implemented state funding
for preschool, we know this works," he said. "It costs us not to
invest in kids."
In Bullock's last proposed budget, he asked for $37 million for
publicly funded preschool, which the legislature voted down. The
governor said in his address that the state still made progress
through a federal grant-last year, more than 650 children
from low- to moderate-income families attended high-quality
Bullock also asked the legislature to add about $1.5 million to
the state's $42.9 million base of special education funding, and
to invest $2 million toward internet connectivity in schools. And
he touted the state's all-time-high graduation rate of 86 percent
and an increase in schools with internet access.
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Pledging to "empower parents," Abbott used his address to
trumpet a plan that would let residents use public money to
send children to private schools. His administration has failed in
the past to win passage of legislation that would grant families
access to vouchers for tuition at nonpublic schools. He gave
no details during the speech, but is backing legislation that
would base the amount available through an education savings
account on family income.
Abbott also focused on school ﬁnance, calling on legislators
to overhaul the state's funding system. Hundreds of districts
and charter schools challenged the formula before the state
supreme court last year, arguing that the state doesn't
spend enough money to educate its 5 million public school
students. The court deemed the funding system barely
Noting that Texas leads the nation in teacher-student sexual
assaults, Abbott also urged lawmakers to pass legislation that
would strip the licenses of teachers convicted of such crimes and
set up safeguards to prevent offenders from landing new jobs in
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In his seventh State of the State address, Herbert
announced the creation of Talent Ready Utah, a collaboration
among the governor's ofﬁce of economic development and
state education ofﬁcials that aims to "help ﬁll 40,000 new
high-skill, high-paying jobs over the next four years."
Business leaders, parents, and educators from across Utah
are also "very close to uniting on an innovative 10-year plan
for kindergarten through post-high school," Herbert said.
He also touted Utah's high school graduation rate, which has
risen from 75 percent to 85 percent since 2009. -BENJAMIN HEROLD
GOP Gov. Scott Walker proposed in his budget this year
to both increase the amount of money schools get and
ﬂatten that state's funding formula so that property-rich
districts get the same amount from the state as propertypoor districts. Proponents say that would simplify a very
complicated formula. But opponents say the state doesn't
have money to increase state aid and it would leave districts
struggling to support poor students and those who don't
speak English as their native language. How to change the
funding formula has become a central issue in the state
superintendent's race between incumbent Tony Evers and
A budget crisis resulting from the fall in coal and oil prices
is so severe that legislators late last year told school ofﬁcials
that the state would have to consider rewriting its funding
formula. Budget ofﬁcials predict the school system could
lose $400 million annually in the coming years. The state
Senate last month proposed a bill that would gradually cut
school funding by 5 percent by 2020. But a long-standing
court ruling requires that education remain the state's top
spending priority. The Senate has proposed legislation to
block the court from dictating school ﬁnance.
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The governor acknowledged his state's education woes-
"We've proven how to be dead last"-in a folksy, no-notes State
of the State speech that outlined the remedies he intends to
Justice proposed a 2 percent raise for teachers and said he
was "ashamed" that it couldn't be more. In his proposed budget,
Justice recommended saving $3.5 million by eliminating state
funds to eight regional education service agencies.
Beyond that, he proposed that Smarter Balanced
assessments be thrown "in the trash can" and replaced with
the ACT. And the current A-F school grading system should
be jettisoned, too, he said.
Education can be "a revenue producer," the governor said,
because "businesses want to go where your kids are going to be
educated the best." If state residents could "create an education
mecca in West Virginia, honest to Pete, people would come, and
you couldn't beat them away," he said.
Read online compilation & links to full speeches.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 1, 2017
Education Week - March 1, 2017
Districts, Advocates Warily Await Health-Care Law Overhaul
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Teachers Turning To Digital Games For Civics Lessons
Educators Join New Fight to Stop Gun Bills
A State of Limbo for DACA Teachers
News in Brief
More Students Take AP Tests—and More Are Low-Income
District Leaders Weigh How—and Whether —to Engage DeVos
Can Schools Offer Sanctuary?
Attention Turns to Courts in Battle Over Transgender Rights
Congress May Turn Focus to Higher Education Law
Spec. Ed. Aid a Candidate For Choice?
High Court Backs Family in Case Of Service Dog at School
Transition Update: Trump Administration
Funding Formulas: States Wrangle Over K-12 Aid
State of the States
Maria Ferguson: In Standards Battle, States Should Stay the Course
Jia Lok Pratt: ‘Why Can’t All Schools Succeed?’
Ron Wolk: End the Charter Schools War
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Anthony Kim: Predictions for American Education in 2017
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - A State of Limbo for DACA Teachers
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 2
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 3
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - News in Brief
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - Report Roundup
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - More Students Take AP Tests—and More Are Low-Income
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - District Leaders Weigh How—and Whether —to Engage DeVos
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 8
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 9
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 10
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 11
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - Can Schools Offer Sanctuary?
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 13
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - Congress May Turn Focus to Higher Education Law
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - Spec. Ed. Aid a Candidate For Choice?
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - High Court Backs Family in Case Of Service Dog at School
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - Transition Update: Trump Administration
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - State of the States
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 19
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - Jia Lok Pratt: ‘Why Can’t All Schools Succeed?’
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - Ron Wolk: End the Charter Schools War
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - Letters
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 23
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 25
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 26
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - 27
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - Anthony Kim: Predictions for American Education in 2017
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - CW1
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - CW2
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - CW3
Education Week - March 1, 2017 - CW4