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What Happened in Your State This April?

During April, fourteen policy analysts published reports about what occurred in California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Wyoming.

School Funding and Budgets

Although New Mexico teachers received a pay raise, education continues to be underfunded, according to Kate Mangelsdorf.

Stevi Quate reported that teacher salaries in Colorado are the lowest in the nation. Some districts are moving to a four-day school week. Indeed, on April 26 and 27, teachers gathered outside the Capitol in Denver to protest school funding.

The signs protestors carried revealed the myriad of concerns:

  • This rally is about as large as my class size.
  • Those who can, teach; those who can’t, write ed policy

Stevi Quate

Darlene Dyer noted that although Idaho is not one of the five states with the lowest teacher pay, it does have serious pay issues that may be keeping new teachers out of the profession.

In neighboring Illinois, Infini Jemison-Ewing described the inequitable funding gap between districts that serve students of color and those that do not.

Teacher Licensure, Evaluations

Robin Holland outlined the steps teachers must take to be licensed in Ohio.

New York legislators have proposed a bill to decouple teacher evaluations from test scores, wrote Derek Kulnis.

Student Assessments

Gretchen Oltman introduced Nebraska’s launch of a “Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS), which provides multiple assessments throughout the year coupled with professional growth opportunities for teachers.” Gretchen noted that girls outscored boys on last year’s ACT Exam.

Precious McKenzie wrote that, although Montana’s overall rate of educational attainment has increased by 6.4 percentage points, it lags behind for American Indians, African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders and White citizens.

School Security and Guns

Tiffany Rehbein reported that Park County School District #6 is the second district in Wyoming to allow teachers and staff to carry concealed weapons in schools if they have at least 24 hours of initial firearms training and meet recertification requirements.

According to Carol Booth Olson, the California Supreme Court ruled that colleges must protect students from potential violent acts.

“This is a step that no one has been willing to take before … This is just the beginning of a national debate over the future of college safety.” —Peter Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University

ESSA Implementation

The US Department of Education approved the ESSA plans for Texas and Idaho. Shirley Wright noted that Texas planned to align federal and state program areas. Texas identified four strategic priority areas: 1) recruiting, supporting and retaining teachers and principals; 2) building a foundation of reading and math; 3) connecting high school to career and college; and 4) improving low-performing schools. Darlene Dyer explained the online literacy program called “Smarty Ants” to ready preK students in reading and kindergarten. She praised Idaho’s accountability piece and goals to increase student proficiency in ELA and English language proficiency.

Other Reports

Susan Stires reported that Portland Maine’s School Board voted to adopt a gender inclusive policy, providing for gender identity bathrooms and changing rooms. Susan shared that it also upholds preferred pronoun use and nonspecific gender dress policies.

Laurie Stowell described Assembly Bill 2772, which would require public high schools and charter schools to offer a course in ethnic studies beginning in the 2021-22 school year and add a course in ethnic studies to high school graduation requirements in social studies commencing with the 2023-24 school year.

Please visit the Policy Analysis Initiative to see all reports filed by NCTE’s policy analysts.