THE MIDWEST »
Indiana Becomes First State to Opt Out of Common Core
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has signed a bill making the state the first in the nation to opt out of the common core education standards. According to The Indianapolis Star, Pence expects Indiana, in its response to the now-controversial curriculum guidelines, will serve as a model for other states.
“I believe when we reach the end of this process, there are going to be many other states around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back, designed our own standards, and done it in a way where we drew on educators, we drew on citizens and parents, and developed standards that meet the needs of our people,” said Pence.
The new law, which removes common core education standards in total from the state, does not prohibit the state from adopting parts of common core into new standards being developed by the Indiana Board of Education.
Indiana was among early adopters of the common core in 2010. To date, 45 states have adopted the standards, though states such as Oklahoma are considering measures to halt the standards.
The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers developed the standards to serve as curriculum guidelines to provide students with the math and English skills needed in each grade to prepare them for postsecondary schooling or entry in the workforce.
New online instant scratch-off ticket sales by the Minnesota Lottery have raised the ire of state legislators, The Associated Press reported in March. A bipartisan group of leaders in the Minnesota House and Senate chambers, upset that state lottery officials developed the online games without legislative approval, are seeking a one-sentence amendment to state law that would shut down the new lottery portal. Minnesota is the first state to launch online scratch-off lottery tickets, though other states are considering or already offer Internet gambling and lottery ticket sales.
Illinois school districts are struggling as a result of decreased state aid, higher operational costs and the slow pace of the economic recovery. According to the Chicago Tribune, 121 of the state’s school districts received low or dismal ratings in the state’s annual financial report card for schools, more than twice the number of districts in the lowest two categories two years ago. Estimates indicate that 62 percent of the state’s districts are now deficit spending in the current operational budget.
Michigan drivers will get some relief following a long, tough winter and its impact on the state’s roads. The Michigan legislature has approved $215 million to improve the state’s roads, the Detroit Free Press reported in March. Of the total allocation, $100 million will go toward road repair, while the remaining $115 million will fund pet road projects.
Former inmates in Ohio are returning to prison less frequently than ever before, according to new statistics released by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The recidivism rate among former Ohio inmates in 2010 was 27.1 percent, down from the previous record low rate of 28.7 percent, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Nationally, recidivism rates among former prison inmates range from 40 to 44 percent.
CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS
The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families says nearly 4,000 people with debit accounts connected to their child support payments were affected by last year’s Target security data breach, though in only a very few cases was fraud detected. According to WKOW News, the company that manages the state’s debit MasterCards is working to resolve the issue and provide new cards to those affected. Nationally, the data breach impacted credit and debit accounts in late 2013.