State news roundup for February 7, 2015


Montana – HB 377: attack on Montana’s academic standards

HS science classroomHouse Bill 377 (Sponsored by Debra Lamm, R-Livingston) is a direct attack on Montana’s academic standards for math and English. And it’s unconstitutional.

What HB 377 does:
HB 377 throws out Montana’s current academic standards for math and English. The bill dictates that Montana’s Board of Public Education set up a whole new standards review council to create a whole new set of standards.

Why HB 377 is a bad idea:

  • HB 377 hurts our children’s education. Montana’s math and English standards (also called Montana’s Common Core Standards) were carefully researched and designed to help all our kids learn at higher levels and reach their potential. The standards are working well!
  • HB 377 is a huge waste of time and taxpayers’ money. Hundreds of Montana educators, school board members, and other community members have worked hard over the past several years to research, review, and implement Montana’s math and English standards. HB 377 would take all that work, throw it out the window, and require that it all be done over – costing more taxpayer dollars and more time, and leaving students in limbo.
  • HB 377 is completely unconstitutional. Montana’s constitution gives the Board of Public Education the authority to determine how standards are set, NOT the legislature.

Get involved in the fight at!

Connecticut – Testing takes center stage at State Board of Education meeting

MT state board of Ed meetingThe first administration of SBAC that will yield student and school level results is coming soon, and State Department of Education (SDE) Officials say they think districts are ready, but they’re not so sure about parents. “I stay up at night worrying about how to prepare people for this,” said Chief Academic Officer Ellen Cohn.

Cohn said that the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC) mark a significant shift for schools, and that districts continue to need support. “This is like leaving JV and going to varsity — these are different assessments,” she said.

The SDE is working on materials, including brochures and web resources, to help parents understand that students’ results may differ from what they’ve come to expect on the CMT and CAPT.

“One of the pieces of information that’s not been well broadcast is the level of engagement our office has had in the development of the test,” said Gail Pagano, an education consultant for the SDE and the state’s SBAC lead. “Nine members worked over four years to develop the test. I’ve had a lot of input in math items.”

Visit to get the full story.

Maryland – Gov. Hogan’s State of the State

MSEA MD Maryland logoA call for disinvestment in Maryland’s public schools

As if cutting Maryland’s schools by $144 million next year isn’t enough, Gov. Hogan has now decided to support policies that would further harm our world-class public education system. In state after state, we have seen voucher schemes and the lowering of standards for the opening and operating of charter schools fail to be effective, and instead create millions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse—exactly what Gov. Hogan campaigned against. These are simply policies that students and their families cannot afford.

Rhetoric vs. Reality

Governor Hogan: “Education is our top priority…I believe that every child in Maryland deserves a world-class education.”

Reality: Gov. Hogan’s budget would cut $144 million from public schools next year—amounting to over $3,600 less per classroom and more than $100,000 less per school—and by almost $600 million over the next four years. His education cuts will be felt in every classroom across Maryland, as students and educators are asked to meet growing demands in overcrowded classrooms with inadequate technology and outdated instructional materials. County impacts are available at

Find out more about Gov. Hogan’s State of the State at

Illinois – Tenure, pensions not in State of the State, but…

Illinois IEA logoSometimes, what isn’t said is as interesting as what is said.

Governor Rauner [ed note: pictured at top] previewed Wednesday’s State of the State speech in presentations in Decatur and Champaign last week, so the most attention-getting items (such as, “right to work zones”) were already known. No surprises.

Several people mentioned that they expected to hear something about pensions, or “education reform” ideas, yet…nothing.

As it turns out, those topics and more were still on the governor’s mind, he just didn’t wish to share them with the TV audience. “Pensions” and “teacher tenure” are among the items that appear on a handout that the governor’s people passed out at the Statehouse yesterday.

Visit to read more about the Illinois State of the State.

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