Backers Push $9B School Bond for Ballot: Despite widespread bipartisan support from state legislators and school districts, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is remaining mum on whether he supports putting a multi-billion-dollar school construction bond on the ballot in November. When initially proposed, the bill called for $9 billion in construction bonds, with $6 billion for K-12 schools, $2 billion for community colleges and $1 billion for the California State University system and the University of California. The totals may be lower after it clears the state Senate, backers say.
Uninsured, Children Get Improved Access to Behavioral Health: Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) authorizes $500,000 in grant funding to expand the Lanai Community Health Center, specifically to provide medical services for the uninsured, children and families who have few or no alternatives for affordable health care. The new clinical facility will help residents access state-of-the-art health technology and provide access to behavioral health services. The community health center will work to prevent residents from traveling to facilities on neighboring islands.
Law Improves Online Education: Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signs a measure authorizing the board of higher education to join the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, which allows for coordination with other states to ensure distance-learning programs recognize each other’s credentials. Distance-learning programs provide education services for students who are not physically present in a classroom, including online education. By joining SARA, Illinois will be able to monitor the quality of programs so that programs can be automatically approved by other states participating in the agreement.
Jindal Asks Judge to Bar Use of Common Core: Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) asks a judge to prohibit state education leaders from using testing material tied to the Common Core standards in Louisiana’s public school classrooms. Jindal filed a petition seeking an injunction that would keep the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state education department from administering any standardized tests developed through a testing consortium aligned with Common Core. Common Core is a set of English and math standards that have been adopted by more than 40 states, describing what students should know after completing each grade. Jindal once supported the multistate standards, but now opposes them, referring to them as an Obama administration effort to meddle in state education policy.
State Works to Improve School Safety, Security: Gov. Deval Patrick (D) releases a report by the state’s Task Force on School Safety and Security outlining recommendations for strengthening school safety. Additionally, a technical assistance team will provide school districts with safety strategies and will review school safety plans. The governor also announces a new grant program providing school districts with safety-related funding, along with the development of a central website for districts to use as a resource for school safety and security information.
Legislators Search for Funding for Scholarship Program: The loss of federal funding could jeopardize a program that pays tuition and fees for low-income high school students taking college-credit courses in Nebraska. The Access College Early program, authorized by state lawmakers in 2007, helps students to enroll in those classes through scholarships if they qualify. About $285,000 in federal money for the program is expected to disappear. The Nebraska Coordinating Commission says that if the funding isn’t renewed or a replacement funding source isn’t secured, as many as 1,000 high school students would lose their scholarships, leaving the state searching for another funding source to support the program.
Back-to-School Aid Goes to Low-Income, Foster Families: Gov. Susana Martinez (R) announces two programs to help low-income and foster children prepare for school. Families with a dependent child who rely on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program will receive $50 to spend on school clothes from a TANF block grant. In addition, the children, youth and families department will provide $100 to foster families with a child over 3 to go toward school supplies and clothing for the upcoming year. Under both programs, parents will receive money automatically through their TANF benefits or foster provider payments.