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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

August 27, 2019
Alex Spurrier, Bonnie O’Keefe
In 1969, more than half of students walked or biked to school, a little more than a third rode on a school bus, and relatively few rode to school in...
August 27, 2019
Phillip Burgoyne-Allen, Bonnie O’Keefe
America’s fleet of roughly 480,000 school buses drives nearly 3.5 billion miles every year transporting students to and from school. About a third of...
August 20, 2019
Hailly T.N. Korman, Max Marchitello, Alexander Brand
Every two years the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights conducts the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), which includes...
July 23, 2019
Phillip Burgoyne-Allen, Katrina Boone, Juliet Squire , Jennifer O’Neal Schiess
Every day, America’s fleet of roughly 480,000 school buses transports about a third of students to and from school. This fleet is more than twice the...
July 9, 2019
Bonnie O’Keefe , Brandon Lewis
In recent years, political and public pushback to state tests has led many states to retreat from investing in and innovating their assessment...

Op-Eds

September 4, 2019
Pilot programs show that electric buses, pricey today, offer long-term savings and crucial learning opportunities.
July 17, 2019
There's a lot of room for improvement in the way we do standardized tests. Some states are experimenting with innovative approaches.
May 29, 2019
Despite the concentration of rural students in Kentucky, education reform efforts continue to focus almost exclusively on two of the largest school...

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...