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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:


October 28, 2021
Indira Dammu, Alex Spurrier, Bonnie O’Keefe, Jennifer O’Neal Schiess
Education finance sets the foundation for what is possible in every school in the country. Education finance equity is critical to leveling the...
October 7, 2021
Alex Spurrier, Sara Hodges, Jennifer O’Neal Schiess
"The geographic lines that separate districts wouldn’t matter if school funding and affordable housing were spread equally across regions. But they’...
December 7, 2020
Chad Aldeman, Anthony Randazzo
In “Are Texas Teacher Retirement Benefits Adequate?,” authors Chad Aldeman and Anthony Randazzo analyze the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) of...
November 12, 2020
Chad Aldeman
Ohio is one of only seven states to give teachers and other education employees a choice over their retirement plan. Early in their employment, they...
September 15, 2020
Lynne Graziano, Chad Aldeman
As more schools prepare students for a high school diploma and college and career readiness, how are states tracking the effectiveness of these...


October 1, 2020
The more than 7,000 youth in foster care in the Los Angeles Unified School District experience significant obstacles in receiving an uninterrupted,...
August 26, 2020
Students lose learning even during brief school closures for snow days. The harm from COVID will be multiplied many times over. During particularly...
August 21, 2020
Now is not the time to roll back testing in Georgia. Milestones is the only data that provide transparency into how every public school is doing.

Blog Posts

November 16, 2021
Bonnie O'Keefe
Bellwether Education Partners’ series Splitting the Bill: Understanding Education Finance Equity gives advocates a crash course in the...
November 2, 2021
Bonnie O'Keefe
Bellwether Education Partners’ series Splitting the Bill: Understanding Education Finance Equity gives advocates a crash course in the...
October 28, 2021
Alex Spurrier
School finance poses a unique challenge for policymakers and advocates alike. The consequences of school finance policy are monumental for...