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Think of the American Midwest, and you may think first of natural resources. A land of Great Lakes and Great Plains, the region is world-renowned for its sparkling waters and its fertile soil. But the region’s strength depends on much more than natural abundance.
Part industrial heartland, part agricultural breadbasket, the Midwest is also home to an extensive network of world-class academic institutions, many of which trace their roots to a 19th-century movement to make higher education more practical and more readily available to rural and working-class citizens.
In time, that movement would change the face of higher education in America, with several Midwestern states playing key roles as pioneers in the establishment of new colleges that offered courses in agriculture and the mechanic arts, as well as other scientific and classical studies.
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Should high school students be required to pass a U.S. citizenship civics test as a prerequisite for graduating from high school? Some key state leaders in North Dakota believe so and will be introducing legislation in 2015, The Bismarck Tribune reports. Under the proposal, students would take a 100-point exam focusing on American government, history and geography; they would have to answer at least 60 of the questions correctly.
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Teachers across Indiana were in line for some bonuses this holiday season as the result of a performance-based grant program included in the state’s budget. According to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, more than $30 million went to 1,300 schools across Indiana.

According to the United States Department of Labor, “approximately 450,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest in the United States” and “early defibrillation is the only definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest” with the best “save” rates occurring when an electric shock is delivered within three minutes of a patient's collapse. Because of the urgency of the situation, the increasing incidence of cardiac arrest in children, and the frequent use of schools as a gathering place for public functions and events for all ages, states have enacted legislation providing for the placement of automated external defibrillators (AED) in schools. Many of the acts are named in memory of a student who died of sudden cardiac arrest following an athletic practice or event at a school.

Social/Emotional Development Training in Teacher Preparation

This act requires any candidate entering a program of teacher preparation to complete training in social and emotional development and learning of children. The training must include instruction concerning a comprehensive, coordinated social and emotional assessment and early intervention for children displaying...

This act directs the Higher Education Commission to consider the creation of a proposed pilot program – Pay Forward, Pay Back. The pilot program would replace the current system of charging students tuition and fees for enrollment at public institutions of higher education. Instead, anyone who attended an in-state college or university would be required to pay a small percentage of their post-college income as a tax for 24 years (3% per year for graduates of a 4-year college; 1.5% per year for community college graduates). If the commission determines that a pilot program is warranted, the commission shall submit a proposal to the 2015 regular session of the Legislative Assembly.

This act establishes a three-year pilot program to generate revenue through the lease of public school lands at up to five sites that would be used for public purposes such as workforce housing, building and retrofitting schools and the creation of more “school-centered communities.” The selection of the potential sites would be determined by the State Board of Education and all revenue generated from the pilot program would be deposited into the state’s school facilities account. The Department of Education would be tasked with providing periodic status report updates on the redevelopment projects and leasing activities.

The December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, sparked a reevaluation of school security and the safety of both students and staff. One issue that emerged was whether certain adults should be allowed to possess weapons within school buildings to deter and defend against armed intruders.

On Thursday, Nov. 20 a group of state legislators and education officials met with staff from the White House Intergovernmental Affairs and representatives from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.  An update on the Administration's priorities, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and critical early education initiatives were discussed.

The language of workforce development is changing and the federal government’s shift in focus presents both some big opportunities and challenges for states. In July, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act—also known as WIOA. It was a reauthorization of the legislation formerly known as the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The act requires regional and statewide collaboration between workforce development programs, industry leaders and educators. Each state will be required, beginning July 1, 2016, to submit a four-year unified strategy that identifies skills gaps with employers and how the state is going to close those gaps.

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