This week, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin presented his State of the State message to the legislature, focusing on education. While Ohio Governor John Kasich has yet to do so, he already has made a major school funding message.
In spite of the similarities, the proposals both governors have made focus on different things. Tomblin mainly addressed student and teacher achievement, while Kasich centered on a long-standing issue in Ohio-how the state finances its public schools.
On the Ohio issue, after initial enthusiasm, local superintendents-including Wolf Creek's Bob Caldwell, expressed disappointment in the governor's plan. There's also, as this is written, some mixed reaction to Governor Tomblin's plans.
The one thing where there's a common thread in these ideas is that they are proposals. Both the West Virginia and Ohio legislatures have to look at them and approve them. And I will predict that the final plans each will vote on-if it ever comes to that-will be different than what the governor talked about.
And while that will get media coverage, what the public will zero in on is not what the legislature finally comes up with, but what the governor proposed in the first place.
What we all have to be reminded of, is that, while the governor's office, like the presidency, is considered "the bully pulpit" at times, our form of government has its "checks and balances", in that legislatures, and Congress, get to sign off on it. And quite often, they come up with something different (albeit something the governor or president can support) than what was initially suggested.
I was interested in something the president of the West Virginia Federation of Teachers said about Governor Tomblin's education initiatives. She said she usually doesn't pay a lot of attention to what the governor proposes in his State of the State address, because it is subject to change.