“THE TIME IS NOW to reimagine and recreate an education system that meets our current challenges and workforce needs. We must seize this opportunity to create a better tomorrow for every child.”—Members of the Legislative International Education Study Group
SAN DIEGO—A bipartisan group of 20 education legislators and legislative staff issued a call to their colleagues to rethink and rebuild more effective education systems today, during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Forecast’23 meeting in San Diego.
The legislators and legislative staff serve on the Legislative International Education Study Group sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures, National Center on Education and the Economy and Southern Regional Education Board. They met monthly during 2020-2021 to pour over research and hear from international experts about the common policy framework found in the best systems. They also learned about the risk of a unprepared and unaware workforce, weakened economy and compromised national security if we do nothing to improve educational outcomes.
Their report, The Time is Now: Reimagining World-Class State Education Systems, recognizes our stagnant and ineffective state education systems that struggle to prepare all students for college or career that were further hampered by the pandemic. The report calls on policymakers to leverage the profound disruption of the pandemic and set new goals, be creative and innovative in our policies and practices and re-envision and build a better education system that meets the needs of all children to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce.
“We know many parents, teachers and students are exhausted after three years of disrupted learning, eager for normalcy and sick of calls for further change. Students and teachers are working very hard to recover. But they are working in broken systems that are no longer designed for success, and we can no longer ignore this difficult reality. Silver bullets and siloed policies will not fix this. Instead, we must reimagine and rebuild for success based on policies and practices that work,” said the Study Group members.
Building on the work of the first Study Group who released their report, No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State, in 2016, this cohort found similar elements of the most effective education systems and a framework for educator and student success:
- Effective Teachers and Principals.
- Rigorous and Adaptive Learning System.
- Equitable Foundation of Supports.
- Coherent and Aligned Governance.
The study group urges their colleagues to act now. “The pandemic disruptions revealed to parents, teachers, administrators, legislators and students that our education in the U.S. is not up-to-par with the rest of the world,” says Montana Rep. Llew Jones (R). “These key stakeholders now recognize there is a case for change—that the U.S. role as a world cultural and economic leader requires that we act now.”
“We're out of time. The economies today will shape the global norms of tomorrow. For the United States to stay ahead, we need to maximize all American children's human potential starting now,” says Hawaii Rep. Justin Woodson (D).
The study group reconfirms steps states can take immediately to improve their education system that have been implemented successfully in states like Maryland. They include:
- Build an inclusive team and set priorities.
- Study and learn from top performers.
- Create a shared statewide vision.
- Benchmark policies.
- Get started on one piece.
- Work through “messiness”.
- Invest the time.
NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.