The September State Examiner covers four topics including Legislative Issue Monitoring, Statehouse News, National Reports, and Advocacy Tips. Each topic includes a brief introduction. To read the full article, click on the "+" sign next to the topic.
The State Legislative Issue Monitoring Report will examine what is happening in statehouses around the country. This edition examines discussions that are impacting school safety.
AESA monitors state-level legislation impacting educational service agencies and their client schools and districts. This month’s report will examine what is happening in statehouses around the country impacting school safety in schools. Over the past half-decade, the landscape of school safety legislation in the United States has undergone significant evolution. From 2018 to 2022, lawmakers at the state level have been compelled to address the pressing issue of ensuring the safety and security of students and educators within the nation's educational institutions. This period has witnessed a flurry of legislative activity, with states crafting and enacting a multitude of measures aimed at fortifying school safety in response to an alarming rise in school-related incidents. From enhanced security protocols to mental health initiatives, this article explores the diverse range of state-level legislative efforts undertaken in the pursuit of creating safer Learning environments for our youth.
For the four-year period of 2018 to 2022, 2,025 bills related to school safety were introduced in 52 States and territories. Of those bills, 19.41% were adopted or enacted. The height of legislative activity was in 2019 when 739 bills were introduced. Over that four-year period, the majority of bills focused on law enforcement, funding, school resource officers, mental health services, training requirements for education personnel, guns in K12 schools (arming educators), and building security.
In 2022, the most recent year for which data was available, 26 bills were enacted in 11 states. That was a 22.41% passage rate. Those states were Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. The table below highlights what issues were addressed in those bills (Totals may be greater than 100% because bills may have multiple categories).
Policy issue addressed and the number of bills addressing these policy issues:
- Mental Health Services 5
- Establish Study Committee/Taskforce 4
- School Safety Audits 4
- Funding & School Safety Grants 3
- Law Enforcement 3
- Legislative Resolutions 3
- Building Security 2
- Curriculum 2
- Reporting 2
- School Resource Officers 2
- Training Requirements 2
- Aftermath & Recovery 1
- Emergency Drills 1
- Risk Assessments 1
- School Identification 1
- Suicide Prevention 1
Not surprisingly, school safety is of interest to both sides of the political aisle. Of the bills introduced 2022, 42.3% were sponsored by Democrats and 53.8% by state-level Republicans.
For more information on these bills go to the respective legislative websites and search for the following:
- Arkansas Senate Bill 2a
- Colorado House Bill 1052
- Colorado House Bill 1120
- Colorado House Bill 1243
- Colorado House Bill 1274
- Colorado House Bill 1275
- Colorado House Bill 1376
- Florida House Bill 1421
- Idaho House Bill 788
- Kentucky House Bill 63
- Louisiana House Bill 495
- Louisiana House Bill 981
- Louisiana House Resolution 208
- Louisiana House Resolution 218
- Louisiana House Resolution 236
- Louisiana Senate Bill 297
- New Jersey Assembly Bill 428
- Virginia House Bill 1129
- Virginia House Bill 741
- Virginia House Bill 873
- Virginia Senate Bill 600
- Virginia Senate Bill 649
- Virginia Senate Bill 741
- West Virginia House Bill 4074
Education Commission of the States monitors 2023 policy action on several education issues through its 50-state database with pending, enacted, and vetoed bills. Bill summaries are added only if/when the bills are enacted or vetoed. Information can be filtered by state and/or issue and sub-issue. For more information see: https://www.ecs.org/state-education-policy-watch-list/
The Education Commission of the States also tracks education-related proposals from governors’ annual State of the State addresses. For more information see: https://www.ecs.org/governors-state-of-the-state-addresses-education-related-proposals/
In the Statehouse News: Education Finance and Policy we find representative examples (with links) of news items coming out of the states that may be of interest to ESAs and their client schools and districts.
Below is a representative example of news coming out of the states or impacting the states that will be of interest to ESAs and their client schools and districts:
Math is Hard – even for teachers. What if They Conquered Their Anxiety?
Because math competencies build on each other, it’s critical that students receive a solid foundation in the subject, experts say. This article explores efforts to support teachers in teaching math. https://apnews.com/article/math-teacher-kindergarten-preschool-
TX to Allow Unlicensed Chaplains to Act as School Counselors
Citing a shortage of school counselors, Texas passed a law allowing chaplains to be school counselors. https://www.npr.org/2023/08/31/1197084278/texas-will-soon-allow-unlicensed-chaplains-to-act-as-school-counselors
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on the school year ahead
NPR's Ayesha Rascoe talks with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona about the K-12 school year ahead and the resumption of college student loan payments
Educators Feel Growing Pressure for Students to Perform Well on Standardized Tests
A majority of educators find that state-mandated standardized tests aren’t useful in the classroom despite feeling a large amount of pressure to have their students perform well on those exams, according to new data from the EdWeek Research Center
Teachers in 6 States Will Get Raises. More Could Join Them
Teachers in at least six states will soon see salary increases after lawmakers showed a renewed interest in teacher pay in the first six months of the year
Paid Parental Leave for Teachers Is Happening in More States and Districts
Most educators don’t have access to paid parental leave—a frustrating, sometimes painful reality for many educators hoping to grow their families. But that’s changing in a growing number of states and districts.
Pregnant School Employees Now Have More Rights at Work. Here’s What to Know
Although the education workforce is predominantly female, schools don’t often provide employees accommodations for pregnancy and the postpartum period. A new law will change that
Texas Gov. Abbott signs ban on transgender women in college sports
Oklahoma approves nation’s first public religious charter school
New Texas law allowing chaplains in public schools could be a model for other states
The measure has attracted national scrutiny and might be challenged in court.
U.S. Department of Education Announces Kindergarten Sturdy Bridge Learning Community
The U.S. Department of Education (Department) is announcing the launch of the Kindergarten Sturdy Bridge Learning Community, a multi-state effort to make kindergarten a transformational
experience at the start of each student’s formal education journey. https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-announces-kindergarten-
U.S. Department of Education to Promote Educator Diversity Through National Convenings
Extending its commitment to support school systems as they find new and innovative ways to encourage, invest in, and support teachers across America, the U.S. Department of Education
(Department) will host two convenings focused on educator diversity. https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-promote-educator-diversity-
This month's National Education Reports highlights three reports:
- Chiefs for Change - Accelerating Learning: How K-12 Systems Are Moving Forward and Making Gains
- Annie E. Casey 2023 Kids Count Report
- State Policy Report: Indexes of State Budget Process Quality
Chiefs for Change Report Details How K-12 Systems are Accelerating Learning
Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of district and state education leaders, released Accelerating Learning: How K-12 Systems Are Moving Forward and Making Gains. The report outlines strategies for improving academic achievement at the start of the 2023-2024 school year, a time when, by and large, America's students are far behind. Chiefs for Change engaged the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy in early 2023 to review published research studies and to identify evidence-based approaches that improve student learning. Some of the strategies in the report released reflect established research on what works; others seem to yield notable achievement gains despite not yet having been studied. Chiefs for Change has included examples from both categories to show how systems are adopting promising programs that could make a difference elsewhere.
Annie E. Casey Foundation Releases 2023 Kids Count Report
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released the 34th edition of the KIDS COUNT ® Data Book, describing the current state of the country’s child care and related services and the impact on children, families, and U.S. businesses. The Foundation calculates a composite index of overall child well-being for each state by combining data across four domains: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health, and (4) Family and Community.
These scores are then translated into state rankings. Explore overall child well-being in the interactive KIDS COUNT Data Book. See how your state ranks by visiting https://www.aecf.org/resources/2023-kids-count-data-book
State Policy Reports Releases Index of State Budget Process Quality
State Reports, a product of Federal Fund Information of the States (FFIS), recently updated the Index of State Budget Process Quality. The index uses some widely agreed-upon measures of good budget practices—as reported by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO)—and uses them to rank states on the quality of their budget processes.
According to State Reports, the index awards high scores to states with:
• Strong requirements for balanced budgets, particularly mandates in state constitutions for all stages in the budget process;
• Extensive powers for governors to constrain spending, including item-veto authority and the ability not to spend appropriated funds;
• Large rainy day funds; and
• Understandable budgets that report the impact of current decisions on future budgets, recognition of pension liabilities, coverage of all state money, and disclosure of why and on
what money is being spent.
Scoring is based on a scale of 0 – 100, with 100 being the highest score a state can achieve. This year, the scores range from 92 in Maine to 46 in New Hampshire. The U.S. average is 74.3, up from 68.8 in the last index (2015).
The top 10 states with the best state budget process according to the index are:
2. West Virginia
3. North Carolina
8. New York
The bottom 10 states were:
50. New Hampshire
Advocacy is important to influence policy development and implementation. Now more than ever, educational service agencies and other educational stakeholders must position themselves as reputable, reliable, and effective advocates for public education and high-quality educational opportunities for all kids regardless of where they live and attend school.
The article below explores influencing the state agency rule-making process.
Advocacy does not stop once a piece of legislation is adopted. Be sure to monitor agency implementation of the bills passed into law, and have strategy to provide input when and where
appropriate. This process is often operationalized through the agency rule making process. Advocacy is important to influence policy development and implementation. Now more than ever, educational service agencies and other educational stakeholders must position themselves as reputable, reliable and effective advocates for public education and high-quality educational opportunities for all kids regardless of where they live and attend school.
The article below explores influencing the state agency rule making process.
INFLUENCING STATE DEPARTMENTS OF EDUCATION AND OTHER RULE MAKING AGENCIES
Influencing state departments of education and rule-making state agencies requires a strategic approach to shape education policies and regulations. Here are the top five effective strategies for ESAs to consider for successful advocacy in this context:
- Inform the formal process: The state rule-making process typically beings with the identification of an issue or need for a new regulation. State agencies draft proposed rules, which are subject to public notice and comment periods. Citizens and interest groups can influence this process by participating in public hearings, submitting comments, engaging with lawmakers, and advocating for their concerns through various channels such as letters, petitions, testifying and grassroots campaigns. Get on notification lists, attend meetings, testify and inform.
- Expertise and Data: Building your case on well-researched data and expert insights is essential. Gather evidence that supports your perspective, whether it's related to education outcomes, student performance, or economic benefits. Quantitative and qualitative data can help substantiate your arguments and provide a foundation for your advocacy efforts.
- Engagement and Collaboration: Establishing connections with key stakeholders, including educators, parents, students, and community members, can strengthen your influence.
Collaborative efforts with like-minded organizations and partners can create a unified front, demonstrating widespread support for your proposed changes. Engaging stakeholders in discussions and public hearings can also spotlight the importance of your cause.
- Policy Briefs and Recommendations: Crafting clear and concise policy briefs that outline your proposed changes and their potential impact can be influential. Highlight the benefits of your recommendations, address potential concerns, and provide real-world examples. These documents can serve as valuable resources for state agencies when making decisions.
- Strategic Communication: Tailoring your messages to resonate with the priorities of state agencies is crucial. Frame your proposals in a way that aligns with their goals and mission. Use
persuasive language and compelling narratives to make your case relatable and relevant. Utilize various communication channels, such as meetings, presentations, emails, and social media, to reach decision-makers effectively.
- Public Awareness Campaigns: Raising public awareness about your cause can create pressure on state agencies to take action. Develop targeted campaigns that inform the public, generate media coverage, and encourage civic participation. Online petitions, rallies, and op-ed articles can amplify your message and demonstrate public interest in the issue.
In summary, influencing state departments of education and rule-making state agencies requires a combination of expertise, engagement, collaboration, clear communication, and public outreach. By leveraging data-backed arguments, forming alliances, creating concise policy recommendations, tailoring messages to agency priorities, and engaging the public, you can effectively advocate for changes that positively impact education policies and regulations. Remember that persistence and a well-rounded approach are key to achieving meaningful outcomes in the realm of state education policy.
STAY CONNECTED & INVOLVED
Do you have feedback for the AESA state advocacy team? Would you like to see a particular issue area addressed in future issues? Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org