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What’s your governor saying about students, educators, and public schools?

by Brian Washington

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Do you know what your governor said in his or her State of the State address? Do you even know when it’s taking place? Now is a good time to find out since some have already taken place or will shortly.

For example, Florida Gov. Rick Scott got poor marks for his State of the State address. Scott tried to mislead the public about Florida’s poor economy, which critics say he screwed up.

The group Florida Strong, an independent advocacy organization dedicated to empowering and educating the public on the policies that impact quality of life, blames Scott’s partisan leadership in the state legislature for creating an economy that has fewer jobs than 10 years ago and is driving workers’ wages down. Scott, who is in his last term as governor, is now considering a run for the U.S. Senate.

From Florida Strong:

“Rick Scott once again attempted to mislead the Florida public in a speech that was an insult to the millions of working families who are suffering under a recession brought about by Rick Scott and Senate and House leadership. More than half of Florida’s counties have fewer jobs today than 10 years ago, and under Rick Scott wages have steadily declined and are among the lowest in the country. While tens of thousands of unemployed Floridians are competing for fewer jobs with lower wages, Rick Scott and Tallahassee leadership have been advancing the interests of their wealthy, well-connected lobbyists and donors. Florida deserves better.”

Governors use their State of the State Address to set the tone for what they view as their achievements or the legislative agenda that lies ahead.

As a public education activist, view your governor’s State of the State Address with a critical eye to know where your governor is on the education issues that matter to you. You’ll want to pay close attention to some key issues because they could spell trouble for students, educators, and public schools in your community.

Education Funding

Broad, general statements about or a passing mention of school funding by a governor in a State of the State Address could indicate a weak commitment to solving funding issues related to public schools. However, it is a good sign when a governor gives some detail about investing in those things that will help students, including early childhood education, decreasing funding inequities, reducing class sizes, and making college more affordable.

When governors talk about increasing education funding, it’s best to take a closer look at the numbers to make sure the money is being spent on those things that will help students succeed in the classroom. Also, any jump in education funding should take into account increases in the number of students being served.


Tuition tax credits. Education savings accounts. Opportunity scholarships. They go by many different names, but nothing can cover up the fact that it’s still a voucher. Vouchers siphon away badly-needed tax dollars from public schools—which in many cases are already underfunded—to pay tuition at private and/or religious schools. Studies show vouchers do not result in a better education for students. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who educators know is unqualified to hold her current post, loves vouchers.

Charter Schools

States exempt charter schools from many of the rules and regulations tied to traditional public schools. Conservative groups like ALEC and for-profit companies see the charter school industry as a chance to make millions. As a result, charter school numbers continue to grow across the nation. Several studies document charter-school waste, fraud, and abuse, which underscores why charter schools should be held to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools.

Right to Work

Right to work legislation silences educators’ voices in the workplace—the same voice they use, through their unions, to advocate for students. Right-to-work bills attack educators by attacking their union and collective bargaining rights—which allow educators to negotiate better teaching and learning conditions on behalf of students. Conservatives and right-wing governors love right-to-work legislation.

Dates by State

List of scheduled State of the State addresses. List will be updated as more dates are confirmed.

AL- Jan 9 (text of speech)

AK – Jan 18 (text of speech)

AZ – Jan 9  (text of speech)


CA – Jan 25 (text of speech) 

CT – Feb 7

DE – Jan 18 (text of speech)

FL – Jan 9  (text of speech)

GA – Jan 11 (text of speech)

HI – Jan 22 (text of speech)

ID – Jan 8  (text of speech)

IL – Jan 31 (text of speech) 

IN – Jan 9 (text of the speech)

IA – Jan 9  (text of speech)

KS – Jan 9  (text of the speech)


LA – March 12



MA –  Jan 23 (text of speech)

MI – Jan 23 (text of speech)


MS – Jan 9 (text of speech)

MO – Jan 10 (text of speech)

MT – No address in 2018

NE – Jan 10 (text of speech)

NV – No address in 2018


NJ – Jan 16 (text of speech)

NM – Jan 16 (text of speech)

NY – Jan 3  (text of speech)


ND – Jan 23 (text of speech)

OH – Mar 6

OK – Feb 5

OR – Feb 1 (text of speech)

PA – Feb 6

RI – Jan 16 (text of speech)

SC – Jan 17 (text of speech)

SD – Jan 9  (audio from speech)

TN – Jan 29 (text of speech)

TX – No address in 2018

UT – Jan 24 (text of speech)

VT – Jan 4  (text of speech)

VA – Jan 10 (text of speech) 

WA – Jan 9 (text of speech)

WI – Jan 24 (text of speech)

WY – Feb 12

5 responses to “What’s your governor saying about students, educators, and public schools?

  1. Not only is Florida’s Governor misleading the public we have our State House legislature just going at education in the state from all sides. House Speaker Corcoran is running the show with little comment from Senate. This is a low moment for public education in Florida.

  2. I am very sorry to say that Betsy DeVos comes from MI, and our schools and communities have the same problems you speak of, which we did not have under Democratic leadership, with our own children.

  3. What is Governor Cuomo’s stance please? The State owes billions to schools in poorer neighborhoods and these children and their schools lack the basics. The Poughkeepsie, NY School District, which is plagued with many woes, has left the 5 elementary schools in the district without ANY Librarians since the close of the 2014-2015 school year. I think this is absolutely horrendous. Instead of giving children from poorer families extras, they are taking away the basics from them – Librarians are staff in all surrounding (wealthier) districts at elementary level.

  4. November midterm elections can’t get here soon enough. We all know what Don the con tRump was, but we didn’t expect that both senate & congress, would not only stand by, but enable/support this dangerous, dysfunctional and sorry excuse for a president, who cheated his way into office. Both houses of congress, will be paying a high price for this unpatriotic, irresponsible and dangerous course of action, which is strictly split along party lines

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