With multi-million dollar surpluses, several governors and public school advocates are at odds over what to do with new money this year. Teachers want pay raises and governors want to save for the next recession.

After Rhode Island released test scores comparing its students to those in Massachusetts', political havoc ensued. Governance, standards, curriculum are all on the table, policymakers say.

Republican legislators last month replaced the state's accountability system with a new one amid debate over the powers of the governor. The state education department says it's not ESSA-compliant.

The legislative session hasn't even started and yet efforts to replace funding formulas are already starting to unravel as states realize they don't have the political capital to raise taxes.

The state's incoming governor and education commissioner both are former teachers. They face battles over school accountability, funding and the achievement gap between white and minority students.

The state's department of education has several major tasks ahead of it in the coming years, including rolling out a new federal accountability system and fixing a statewide teacher shortage.

Teachers and public school advocates have complained about dramatic budget cuts in recent years, but a recent report says spending is trending upward.

The state's board of education had renewed Commissioner Pam Stewart's contract for a year before the midterm election but after the election of a new Republican governor, she said she'd leave in January instead.

Former Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens appointed enough board members to have Commissioner Margie Vandeven fired last year, but now that he's gone, the state board decided to hire her back.

The midterm election contest between state Assembly member Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck to run the state's department of education became the most expensive in state history with candidates spending a combined $53 million.


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