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State Education Policy

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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Despite heated debates at the local and federal level about education reform, states actually play the lead role in our nation’s public education system. The responsibility for providing public education services is established at the state level in individual state constitutions, and state revenues fund the lion’s share of the cost of operating most public schools. As a result, state policy drives much of the structure and function of the public school system — with direct influence over human capital management, school and system performance and accountability, financing, and governance.

Bellwether’s work identifies both the opportunities and barriers that state policies create for innovative and promising practices across the education sector. We also analyze the intersection of state policy with federal priorities and local contexts. Our grant-funded work has addressed a range of state policy issues, including charter school policies; the impact of state policy on teacher certification, retention, compensation, and benefits; the structure and function of state school financing systems; and more. We also advise state policymakers seeking to develop and implement innovative policy solutions as well as foundations and advocacy organizations seeking to identify or influence state policies to foster improved outcomes for students.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:

Publications

May 27, 2020
Kelly Robson, Juliet Squire, Marnie Kaplan
Business leaders play a critical role in ensuring that our education systems enable young people to gain the skills, knowledge, and experiences they...
March 10, 2020
Hailly T.N. Korman, Max Marchitello
Each year thousands of youth in America are uprooted from their schools and communities and sent to a juvenile justice detention center. The majority...
March 5, 2020
Chad Aldeman
In response to financial pressures, the New York State Assembly has created new, less-generous retirement plans for teachers and other educators....
February 19, 2020
Kelly Robson, Jennifer O’Neal Schiess, Phillip Burgoyne-Allen
Autonomous school policies are becoming increasingly prevalent in school districts and states, and currently exist in 24 states nationwide. These...
December 4, 2019
Kelly Robson, Phillip Burgoyne-Allen, Juliet Squire, Jeff Schulz
Fourteen percent of the nation’s population lives in rural communities, and one in five K-12 students attends a rural school — a substantial...

Op-Eds

May 20, 2020
Data Quality Campaign--Measuring how much students learn over time is the most equitable measure of student performance we have, revealing trends and...
April 7, 2020
Education Post -- The widespread disruptions to our country’s entire education system are a momentary step into the shoes of students who have lived...
March 9, 2020
Education Post--Too often, education leaders think of schools and programs serving students who have gaps in their education, who are early parents,...

Blog Posts

May 6, 2020
Cara Jackson and Hailly Korman
There has been a lot written about the 6th Circuit’s decision in Detroit’s right-to-literacy case, the latest in a long line of lawsuits...
April 28, 2020
Sara Mead
COVID-19 highlights the foundational weaknesses in our nation’s approach to early care and education. Unlike K-12 public schools, which are...
April 22, 2020
Sara Mead
Most state-funded pre-K programs, like most schools, are closed due to the coronavirus. But most states do not have the same state...