Here are 7 education changes lawmakers promise for 2023

"With the promise of prosperity on the horizon, there is nothing more crucial to our individual success than education," said Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan.

“Every child deserves a quality education that fits their unique needs, regardless of economic status or background.” This statement from Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt during his 2023 State of the State Address is one that echoes the thoughts and feelings of lawmakers, district leaders and administrators across the country.

This year has already proven extremely difficult for teachers, leaders and students alike. From school safety to learning loss, K12 is suffering from long-lasting inequities that either stemmed from the pandemic or were exacerbated by it. Needless to say, state lawmakers made sure to tell their communities exactly how they will be approaching education for the foreseeable future.

Every year, the Education Commission of the States, an interstate agency that tracks educational policy, identifies trends in education policy accomplishments and proposals highlighted during every state leader’s speech. Education-related issues and celebrations were referenced frequently during Governors’ 2023 State of the State Addresses. This year, they narrowed down seven priorities that were brought up most often by state governors. Unsurprisingly, K12 funding was the most-addressed issue, an area that’s gained the attention of leaders and educators as the pandemic relief funding deadline looms.

As detailed in their “Governor’s Top Education Priorities in 2023 State of the State Addresses” report, these seven trends have been identified as the most-discussed education-related topics by state leaders:

  1. K12 funding: At least 35 governors discussed increased investments in K12 schooling and adjustments to funding approaches. Over the last two years, funding has been identified as the number one issue.
  2. Workforce development and career and technical education: At least 34 governors spoke of their efforts to strengthen support in this area, including apprenticeships and workforce participation specific to their state’s needs.
  3. Teacher staffing: At least 29 governors spoke of their focus on teacher retention, recruitment and compensation. In 2023, leaders have gotten more specific with their proposals regarding this issue than in recent years by announcing specific percentage increases for teacher salaries and bonuses.
  4. Early learning: Right behind teacher staffing falls early learning opportunities. At least 28 governors addressed an emphasis on childcare access and preschool opportunities.
  5. Academic supports: At least 22 governors highlighted efforts to support student learning in areas such as reading and literacy, curriculum and student achievement.
  6. Physical and mental health: An issue that ties directly to other outcomes like student behavior and academic success, 21 governors spoke of their efforts to support students and staff who are suffering.
  7. Postsecondary affordability: Amid crippling inflation and students questioning whether or not college is right for them, at least 19 governors seek to create more affordable pathways for students to obtain a postsecondary education by reimagining strategies tied to financial aid, tuition and student debt.

“While governors seek to improve all sectors of their state, they regularly emphasize the impact that learning can have on a state’s economic growth and wellbeing,” the report reads. “As Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. of the U.S. Virgin Islands put it, ‘With the promise of prosperity on the horizon, there is nothing more crucial to our individual success than education.’”

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Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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