A Three-Year College Degree in Ohio?

THREE-YEAR DEGREES: Ohio Governor John Kasich wants the state's universities to offer a three-year degree program to make college more affordable, The Plain-Dealer reports. Students would have to squeeze in more courses during their time at school in order to satisfy degree requirements, much as they do today without an established three-year program. Ball State University in Indiana already offers three-year degrees for 30 of its 180 degree programs and Rhode Island lawmakers approved a measure in 2009 to offer three-year degrees at both of the state's public universities. Meanwhile, Kasich's budget anticipates a 10.5 percent cut in higher education funding in the 2012 fiscal year, less than had been feared, followed by a 3.7 percent increase in 2013, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

SESSION ENDS: Idaho lawmakers gaveled their session to a close Thursday having approved three major education overhaul bills that had been a priority for Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and state superintendent Tom Luna, according to The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review . The bills would weaken teachers' tenure and collective bargaining provisions, expand online courses, reduce the number of teachers and institute a merit pay system. The state Senate also approved legislation to implement the changes immediately rather than on July 1 in an effort to dampen an attempt to put the controversial changes up to a referendum next year.

LEADERSHIP CHANGES: The Oregon Senate approved a bill that would make the governor the state's school superintendent and require the governor to designate a deputy superintendent to run the state's education agency, The Oregonian reports. Right now, Oregon's superintendent is elected and voters have repeatedly turned down ballot measures to make the position an appointed one. Should the Senate's bill become law, it could go into effect without voter approval but would not remove current superintendent Susan Castillo, who was recently reelected to a third term. Supporters of the proposal said it would make the superintendent more accountable and more visible while opponents said it would dilute the influence of voters. Castillo, a former legislator, has been criticized by some in the legislature for being too timid in pushing school overhauls.

PADDLING: New Mexico became the 31st state to ban corporal punishment in schools after Republican Governor Susana Martinez broke with her party and signed a bill to prohibit paddling in the state's schools. Most Republicans opposed the bill, with Rep. Dennis Roch a Republican from Texico, saying the decision to paddle a student should be left up to school boards. Martinez and supporters of the ban said the decision was instead best left up to the parents. Very few districts still use corporal punishment although it was still allowed in 36 of the state's 89 district before the ban, The (Farmington) Daily Times reports.

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