Capitol Roundup

Cuomo finishes State of the State tour, proposes funding for AP exams and computer science teachers

PHOTO: Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2017 regional State of the State address at the University at Albany.

When Governor Andrew Cuomo wrapped up his series of State of the State speeches on Wednesday, he had announced one major higher education proposal — free college tuition — and a smattering of K-12 programs designed to help needy students. (You can read his full State of the State booklet here.)

Some of the proposals, which must be approved by the legislature, were announced over the course of multiple speeches, including a plan to boost after-school offerings in some high-needs cities and expand Excellence in Teaching awards. On Wednesday, the governor also threw his support behind several initiatives that echo ones Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched in New York City, including a plan to help low-income students access Advanced Placement exams and a public-private partnership to train more computer science teachers.

Here is a roundup of some of his K-12 proposals:

After-school programs: The governor proposed $35 million to add 22,000 after-school spots in certain cities, including the Bronx. (Read more here.)

Fund AP exams: Cuomo proposed allocating $2 million to cover the Advanced Placement exam fee for 68,000 low-income students.

More Early College High Schools: The governor’s proposal includes an additional $5.3 million to expand Early College High Schools, which allow students to earn an associate’s degree along with a high school diploma. The funds, if approved, are expected to finance at least 10 new Early College High Schools, and under Cuomo’s plan the state’s “failing” or “persistently failing” schools would receive preference.

Support computer science teachers: Cuomo proposes expanding the state’s Master Teacher Program, which provides teachers a stipend and requires them to mentor peers, to include about 115 computer science teachers. He also wants to create a partnership with the tech sector to “help train educators across the state to teach computer science.”

Expand teaching awards: The governor wants to invest $400,000 to recognize at least 60 additional excellent teachers.

Week In Review

Week in review: Controversy about superintendent opening and lawsuits against the state

PHOTO: Meghan Mangrum

Who will be the next superintendent of Detroit schools? The board of education did not grant Alycia Meriweather an interview, but many in Detroit are pushing the board to make her a candidate. Another wrinkle: One of the three finalists withdrew from the competition.

If you were not able to attend Chalkbeat’s kickoff event last Friday, be sure to watch our coverage. You can also view the show here.

Read on for more about Meriweather, mascots, and how school lunches affect test scores.

— Julie Topping, Editor, Chalkbeat Detroit

Interim chief rejected: Detroit schools superintendent Alycia Meriweather is trying to stay focused on the district’s future, like bringing struggling schools run by the state back into the district, but her departure creates another layer of uncertainty for parents and teachers.

Populist support: Meriweather’s exclusion from the search process has triggered angry reactions on social media. Hundreds of people have signed a petition urging the school board to reconsider. And on Wednesday, the union representing Detroit teachers called on the board to give her a shot.

And then there were two: One finalist withdrew, leaving two candidates vying to be Detroit schools superintendent. Both have ties to the area and bring experience from other low-performing districts.  

Opinion: Secretly discussing potential Detroit superintendent candidates and voting behind closed doors to tell 16 schools on the state’s priority list that their contracts may not be renewed was called a disservice to parents and students. One newspaper calls for better accountability and transparency.

Opinion: Another commentator believes Michigan doesn’t have the will to improve its underperforming schools.

Getting that diploma: The state’s graduation rate was down slightly for the class of 2016.  But fewer students are dropping out and instead are continuing school beyond four years.

Who gets the credit: East Detroit is no longer under the control of a state-appointed CEO. Local leaders object to state efforts to credit him with district improvements, which they say happened before he arrived.

Mascot fines: The state superintendent wants the power to fine school districts that refuse to change mascots and logos that are widely seen as offensive.

Lawsuit against the state: Educators, parent groups, and others interested in education sued to stop Michigan from giving $2.5 million to private schools to reimburse them for costs associated with state requirements.

Another lawsuit against the state: Detroit schools officially filed papers to keep the state from forcing the closure of failing schools.

Shuttle bumps: A school transportation system that some Detroit leaders had been exploring for this city faces challenges in Denver. The system won praise from U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Pushback: The state board of education spurned a recommendation from Gov. Rick Snyder’s education panel to disband the board, claiming it provides “transparency and continuous oversight” of school policy.  

Transformation: A nonprofit group hopes to transform a neighborhood by turning the former Durfee Elementary and Middle School into a community innovation center.

Eat to learn: One large study shows students at schools that serve lunches from healthier vendors get better test scores.

Harsh measures? A teacher’s aide at a Detroit school has been disciplined after a video appeared to show her throwing a student.

2018

Salazar won’t run in governor’s race featuring strong education storylines

PHOTO: Denver Post File
Former U.S. Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Ken Salazar’s decision not to run for Colorado governor takes one prominent Democrat out of a still-developing campaign that promises to prominently feature public education as an issue.

The former U.S. senator and interior secretary cited family reasons for his decision to sit out the 2018 Democratic primary. Salazar, who is closely involved in raising a granddaughter who has autism, could have been a voice on public education for children with disabilities.

In a Denver Post commentary explaining why isn’t running, Salazar took a broad view of the challenges in education.

“Colorado’s education crisis needs to be solved from pre-kindergarten to college,” Salazar wrote. “It is sad that Colorado has defunded higher education and abandoned the great tradition of leading the nation with our great colleges and universities.”

Salazar’s announcement could set other plans in motion quickly in the Democratic field.

Former state Sen. Michael Johnston, a prominent education reformer, and entrepreneur Noel Ginsburg, CEO of Intertech Plastics, have already announced they are running.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada told the Denver Post on Thursday the “chances are very good” he will run, and could declare his candidacy soon.

Former state treasurer Cary Kennedy said she is seriously considering running, and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder said he has not ruled it out, according to the Post.

Among the Republicans mulling a run: District Attorney George Brauchler, state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and state Treasurer Walker Stapleton.