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WATCH: In Every Super Tuesday State, a Big Education Story

By Steve Snyder | February 23, 2016

Updated March 1: Wyoming has not yet implemented the Next Generation Science Standards. 
This is the fifth in a series of EDlection2016 films surveying the top education issues in the early primary states. See our videos from Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina below (as well as our archive of 30 state dispatches here)

Thirteen states, and one U.S. territory, turn out Tuesday to pick the presidential candidates they’d prefer to see square off in November. What better time to go beyond the polls and endorsements to survey the top education issues affecting the millions of voters across these regions:


Taken together, our Super Tuesday survey is a mosaic of education triumphs, missteps, innovations and crises.

After nearly a decade of stalled school choice legislation in Texas, it now appears that the Speaker of the House is open to studying the issue of how to get more quality classrooms into the underserved communities that need them most. Meanwhile, Alaska is committing millions more to getting its schools faster Internet connections and Wyoming educators continue to disagree over the Next Generation Science Standards. After initially banning NGSS due to climate change language, the state legislature allowed the new guidelines to move forward, only to see the state Board of Education reject the new approach.
In many Super Tuesday communities, parents and policymakers are grappling with schools that are falling well short of their goals. In American Samoa, 90 percent of high school students require remedial classes before they’re ready for community college; in Alabama, 76 schools made the recently released “failing schools” list (a 15% increase over 2015’s roster); and Georgia is actively considering a plan to merge or close 26 low performing Atlanta schools.

Some states stand out for recent education victories. Arkansas’ decision to become the first state to require computer science courses in public high schools has been widely hailed; in Colorado, Denver Public Schools have been ranked first among large school districts in offering parents school choice via the SchoolMatch system; and school choice advocates in Massachusetts say the widespread success of Boston’s charter schools are proof that the state should lift its existing charter cap.

Minnesota has been in the news recently due to a segregation lawsuit that claims the state’s charter schools — many of which deliberately serve specific communities — are making classroom integration impossible. Oklahoma’s severe teacher shortage — and the state’s decision to fill classrooms by doubling its number of emergency teacher certifications over the last year — has made national headlines. Tennessee seemed on track to approve vouchers for poor families until the legislation surprisingly stalled in the legislature earlier this month.

And, as always, school funding is a big issue almost everywhere. A new study says Virginia never altered its school funding formulas after the Great Recession, and that as a result schools are now underfunded annually by $800 million. Vermont lawmakers are trying to maintain education funding by getting creative with property tax calculations. Their new idea: Calculate property taxes using owner income, not property value.


Previously: Desperate families in Nevada worry about fate of education savings accounts


New Hampshire’s biggest education issue: The heroin epidemic


How South Carolina floods classrooms with technology


Iowa rethinks high school as on-the-job training

 

 

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