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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

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...
September 10, 2019
Kelly Robson, Brandon Lewis, Juliet Squire
When rural charter schools succeed, what conditions enable their results? Local Roots Take the Lead is a new website from Bellwether Education...
August 27, 2019
Phillip Burgoyne-Allen, Bonnie O’Keefe, Jennifer O’Neal Schiess
Today, more states and districts are attempting to address segregation and inequity among schools by expanding families’ ability to choose from a...

Op-Eds

February 3, 2020
The Iowa caucuses are bad for education policy. The policies favored by an unrepresentative sample of Iowans have an outside influence on our...
November 19, 2019
Without state investments in new funding and technology, qualified school bus drivers will continue to choose jobs in other industries. Students and...
November 14, 2019
Drivers and communities can and must do more to ensure that students are just as safe outside the bus as they are inside. 

Blog Posts

June 29, 2020
Kelly Robson
Questions about when and how to reopen schools will have ripple effects for the business sector and broader economy. If schools cannot open...
June 15, 2020
Juliet Squire
The business and education sectors are feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic acutely. Among small businesses, 75% have applied...
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...