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What Happened in Your State this June?

This is the first post in a monthly series to inform members about what is going on in your state.

capitol buildingThis past month, seven policy analysts published reports about what occurred in the following states: Pennsylvania, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Kentucky, New York, and Washington.

Budget and funding continue to be the biggest concerns for educators and schools. Aileen Hower discussed the difficulty that impoverished school districts in Pennsylvania face in borrowing money due to the state’s budget impasse. Kristi Nourie described the possibility of a shutdown for Kansas due to the legislature adjourning without addressing a court order to provide equitable funding for public schools. Although the Michigan legislature passed legislation to address Detroit’s financial crisis, there are controversial elements included in the law, as Daniel Yowell outlined:  hiring uncertified teachers,  determining merit pay based on standardized tests, and punitive measures for those teachers who participate in sick-outs. Kentucky delayed its initiative to offer free two-year college tuition according to Laura Matravers, Rachel Gramer, and Mary P. Sheridan, who questioned how Kentucky would sustain such funding.

In Michigan, lawmakers discussed third-grade retention policy: Daniel Yowell distinguished between the House bill that mandated retention if a student is one grade level behind in reading and the Senate bill that would allow a case-by-case exemption.  NCTE registered its strong opposition to “legislation mandating that children, in any grade level, who do not meet criteria in reading be retained,” in its Resolution on Mandatory Grade Retention and High-Stakes Testing.

Clancy Ratliff reported on Louisiana’s unanimous passage of a law requiring public schools to teach cursive writing. Derek Kulnis noted New York’s release of Common Core test items in light of the high percentage of New York students who opted out of mandated testing in 2015. Amanda Espinosa-Aguilar described Washington’s use of Smarter Balanced Assessment scores as placement tests in their public colleges and universities, addressing faculty concerns with student maturity.