State laws get made one state at a time, but as a whole, policy making tells a collective story of how education reform is advanced.
As most legislative sessions close, the story of 2017 is emerging.
Some advocacy victories are high profile. Others happen incrementally, building the runway for larger, long-term goals to get off the ground. As we lead up the annual PIE Network Summit—a space to reflect on lessons learned and plan for the coming year’s legislative sessions—we’ll be highlighting both types of success from members across the Network.
Oregon legislation gave life to a new infrastructure designed to support the state’s educator workforce. Senate Bill 182 establishes a new and innovative approach to remaking a fractured educator support system into an effective, coordinated one led by educators. Established by the Educator Advancement Council, the bill is designed to leverage state resources and create a statewide system of educator networks to support every Oregon educator in a deeper way by tailoring professional development based on their needs. Read more in this email from PIE Network member Chalkboard Project.
Idaho Business for Education
Idaho’s 2017 legislative session came to a close without funding pre-K, maintaining Idaho’s status as one of only six states without state funded pre-K. Despite this, advocates made much progress on early learning. PIE Network member Idaho Business for Education (IBE) has been working in coalition to advance the Idaho School Readiness Act, modeled after successful early learning legislation in Mississippi. The legislation would give families access to either home or off-site kindergarten preparedness programs. To emphasize the importance of early learning and build momentum, IBE organized the first-ever legislative hearings on pre-K in Idaho. Advocates report building substantial public support for early learning and are planning to leverage that momentum for next year’s session.
GeorgiaCAN has been working to increase the transparency of Georgia’s education finances for the last three legislative sessions. Lawmakers recently passed legislation that will require all revenues and expenses to be broken down and presented at both the district and school-level. The bill also aims to present the financial details in a meaningful and public-friendly way. It is GeorgiaCAN’s hope that providing this information and allowing for school-to-school comparisons will lead to the adoption of both improved spending practices and will allow policymakers to address inequities in the funding system. Because of this bill schools will report on how much is spent on instructional staff, administration, and building costs, along with other school-level data.
A for Arizona
A for Arizona has been working, in conjunction with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber, to apply lessons from hard-to-fill industries to teacher recruitment. This year, state lawmakers passed legislation (SB1042) that changed Arizona’s certification and licensure reciprocity and renewal statutes, ultimately giving schools the tools and authority they need to prepare their own teaching talent. With the passage of Senate Bill 1042, schools can recruit promising teaching candidates with college degrees and put them through their own high-quality preparation program or partner with a high-quality provider.
The bill applied lessons from a study on hard-to-fill industry pipelines. The study noted that other industries do as well or better at training employees with college degrees as external providers. According to A for Arizona, this also holds true for high-performing Arizona schools. The bill allows high-performing schools to train and certify their own teachers if they
1. Recruit candidates with a college degree,
2. Clear all safety checks required for all school personnel, and
3. Get good results for kids.
This legislation will allow high-performing schools to hire and ultimately better prepare teachers, including emergency certified teachers, using programs that are supported with student outcome data as opposed to costly (and time-consuming) Master’s degree programs.
Advocates advanced school choice legislation for the first time in the history of the Cornhusker State. Educate Nebraska worked to introduce and support three school choice bills in their most recent session: a charter school bill, a voucher bill, and a tax-credit scholarship bill. While the charter bill and voucher bill both stalled in the Education Committee, the tax-credit scholarship bill advanced and will carry over to next year’s session. In advancing the bill, advocates helped repair important relationships with the legislative body and familiarized policymakers with various aspects of school choice, priming the conversation for the upcoming session.
Continue to check our website for additional highlights across the Network as we lead up to the annual PIE Network Summit, where leading advocates across the country come together to debrief wins and losses from the year and plan for their upcoming legislative sessions.