Hutchinson Supports New K-8 Computer-Science Education: Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) throws his support behind new kindergarten through eighth-grade (K-8) computer science standards. The new standards are poised to launch at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year and will offer basic computer science coursework to help prepare students for high school. The existing high school computer science standards, which are meant to develop coding talent and prepare students for future job opportunities, were based on recommendations from Code.org, a national organization specializing in promoting computer science education. The proposed standards will go to the state Board of Education for a vote soon and if approved they will be implemented beginning in the 2017-18 school year.
$1M in STEM Grants to Prep Students for Key Industries: Jack Markell (D) announces a $1 million initiative to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education provided by high schools. The Pathways to Prosperity Grants will support 55 high schools in the state. The initiative will involve expanding the existing pathways to prosperity program, which provides students pathways to careers in growing industries by offering career and technical education programs at high schools. Specifically the programs will offer students college credit for courses that are intended to jump-start their careers following college graduation. Additionally, the initiative will provide training for teachers, so they can help students complete coursework related to the program.
$10M for School Safety: Gov. Mike Pence kicks off a $10 million school safety initiative. Awards will be allocated to 260 schools and educational institutions to help them conduct threat assessments; purchase emergency preparedness equipment; and hire school resource officers, or law enforcement officers who specialize in school security and crime prevention. This year’s funding comes from a $3.5 million original allocation, $3.5 million from excess state Department of Homeland Security funds and more than $3 million in unspent and unallocated funds from previous years. These carryover funds will continue to accrue, official said, as grants from previous years go unused and the money is returned to the state.
Experts Release Juvenile Justice Policy Reform Recommendations: Gov. Terry Branstad (R) releases recommendations from his working group on criminal justice policy reform. The working group recommends determining criteria for funding and participation for mental health and drug courts at the state level and keeping juvenile justice records confidential.
State Aims to Improve Instruction, Raise Student Achievement in Schools: Branstad rolls out an initiative that allows teachers to work with their colleagues to improve instruction and raise student achievement. The initiative will involve the use of teacher leadership systems for all school districts starting in the 2016-2017 school year. The new system will help instructors assist their colleagues in analyzing data, improving teaching strategies, and drafting classroom curricula.
Baker Orders Reforms to Workforce Investment Board, WIOA Youth Programs: Gov. Charlie Baker (D) orders reforms to the state’s workforce investment board, which helps ensure compliance with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Under the new federal law, states obtained broad authority over the youth workforce program funding. The state board will be in charge of developing policies and plans to promote workplace diversity and improve performance accountability. Additionally, the board will be reduced from 65 to 33 members to streamline its functionality.
Snyder Promotes Financial Literacy for High Schoolers: Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signs a measure to allow high school students to earn college credit for taking financial literacy classes. The law will allow state merit curricula to be fulfilled by taking a personal economics class that includes financial literacy components. The law is intended to help provide students with post-graduation financial skills.
Nixon Broadens Work-Based Education Instruction: Gov. Jay Nixon (D) supports a $1 million initiative to help youth graduating from high school find jobs or enter postsecondary education. The initiative expands an existing program of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG), now in a small number of schools in St. Louis to 16 more schools for the current school year. JAG is an evidence-based program that provides classroom and work-based instruction, mentoring, summer employment training, and student-led leadership development. It is designed to teach teamwork and leadership, raise students’ self-image, and help schools better support students in their transition from school to work. The program was implemented using a combination of private and public funding.
Effort to Broaden Access to Health Services: Nixon announced an expansion of access to prenatal health care for low-income pregnant women. The new Show-Me Healthy Babies Program is intended to promote healthy labor, delivery, and birth by providing women with incomes of up to 300% of the federal poverty level increased access to pregnancy-related services through an online application process. Under the terms of the program, women will also be offered postpartum coverage for sixty days and the program’s child coverage will continue for up to one year after birth. The program is intended to expand health services to an estimated 1,800 pregnant women each year. The governor signed legislation creating the program in 2014; the state’s implementation plan was recently approved by the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
State Expands Access To Prenatal Care: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signs a law that expands access to health insurance for pregnant women by allowing them to purchase health insurance through the New York state health insurance exchange at any time, not just during the open enrollment period. The intent is to provide better prenatal care by allowing women access to health insurance before they give birth. The legislation treats pregnancy as a ‘qualifying life event,’ similar to giving birth, being married, getting divorced, or suffering the death of a spouse. Qualifying life events allow individuals to purchase insurance outside of the normal enrollment period.
Cuomo Urges Passage of Bill to Help At-Risk Youth: Cuomo announces his support for new criminal justice reform measures to expand educational opportunities for criminal offenders and help at-risk youth avoid prison. The proposed measures would expand youth job-training programs, diversionary services such as counseling, substance abuse treatment, prison educational programs, and cogitative behavioral therapy. One thousand prisoners would be given the opportunity to receive a college-level education, with the goal of reducing recidivism. Additionally, the measures would provide employment and transitional employment assistance upon release.
McCrory Launches Apprenticeship Initiative: Gov. Pat McCrory (R) announces an apprenticeship initiative to train high school students in advanced manufacturing techniques. The initiative will involve a partnership among high schools, businesses, and community colleges and will give students access to paid career training while earning associate’s degrees. The apprenticeships will involve at least 6,400 hours of paid on-the-job training and 1,600 hours of academic instruction. It is part of the state’s $2 billion Connect NC program.
$1M to Improve Prison Education System for Young Offenders: Gov. Tom Wolf (R) releases a $1 million award for an initiative to increase efforts to educate youth offenders in correctional facilities. The initiative, which focuses on youth identified as likely to reoffend, will evaluate offenders’ skills, experiences, and goals. Those evaluations will be used to develop individualized education plans to help newly released youth access job opportunities. Through the initiative, correctional facilities will work to partner with colleges and local workforce agencies and employers to give offenders the ability gain credentials and skills relevant to existing job openings within their communities.
Raimondo Invests in Child Services: Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) rolls out an initiative to improve the physical health and safety and behavior and emotional security of children in the state. The initiative, involving the state’s children’s cabinet, which is made up of directors of state child-serving agencies is intended to address long waits to place children in permanent homes, lower rates of out-of-home child placement, poor social worker morale, and to lessen an over-reliance on group homes. The cabinet will compete a review of behavioral and mental health services for children as part of a five year plan involving data tracking. About a quarter of the Rhode Island high schoolers that participated in a recent state survey reported “feeling sad or hopeless” nearly every day, and over 560 teens reported more than one suicide attempt.
$2.43B for Education Infrastructure, STEM: Gov. Terry McAuliffe (R) rolls out a $2.43 billion bond measure to invest in infrastructure the state’s institutions of higher education. The measure would create a competitive grant program for entrepreneurial research activities, renovate existing laboratory facilities at state universities, and provide researches with technical assistance. The measure would also invest in classroom infrastructure related to STEM workforce training programs. In addition, the measure would set aside $90.5 million to build two new juvenile correctional centers to allow juveniles to be closer to home.