The top trends across the early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education continuum from Governors’ 2023 state addresses.
In 2022, 36 states and three territories held gubernatorial elections resulting in ten new Governors in 2023. By mid-March 2023, at least 43 Governors have delivered their State of the State addresses, five Governors delivered State of the Budget addresses and 39 Governors also delivered Inaugural addresses. Governors utilized this time to discuss prior achievements, new challenges and future endeavors. With the state having an integral role in K-12 and postsecondary education, Governors took this opportunity to remark on key trends in education policy.
Since 2019, the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Center for Best Practices K-12 Education team has identified significant trends in education policy after analyzing our members’ State of the State addresses. Education Commission of the States (ECS) has partnered with NGA for the past four years to publish a report of the key education themes across all Governors’ addresses. This year, seven major areas in education policy have been highlighted which include K-12 funding, workforce development and career and technical education, teacher staffing, early learning, academic supports, physical and mental health, and postsecondary affordability. The following details some of the key state highlights identified across each category:
At least 32 Governors have discussed K-12 funding, which is the largest topic mentioned this year. This is a critical area for Governors as they analyze funding formulas and propose new investments in the K-12 education system. For example, Maryland Governor Wes Moore highlighted making the largest investment in public education compared to any Governor in the state’s history. Missouri Governor Mike Parson proposed an additional $117 million to fund fully the foundation formula and $233 million for school transportation needs. In New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu’s State of the Budget address, Governor Sununu announced that over the next two years $200 million will be invested into schools and an additional $1 billion will be invested over the next ten years. Governor Sununu noted that this money will go directly to local schools and will be prioritized for school districts that are most in need. Additionally, New York Governor Kathy Hochul included a $2.7 billion increase in school funding for districts across New York under the Foundation Aid formula, which sends more money to high-needs districts. Learn more about state education budgets and other trending topics in NGA’s State Strategies For Addressing K-12 Student Needs webinar series.
“My budget contains $2 billion in new funding for our students. That’s an increase of more than 22 percent from what was appropriated in the current biennium. That’s two billion new dollars for literacy, for instruction, for our children.”Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo
Workforce Development and Career and Technical Education
This year, at least 31 Governors focused on career and technical education and workforce development to help expand opportunities for high school students. For example, American Samoa Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga celebrated the expansion of trade and skills classes to individual schools at the high school and college level. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker noted that more students took Career and Technical Education or dual credit courses than ever before. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum highlighted Learn Everywhere, a program that allows students to earn credit for work outside of school, and highlighted $88 million of matching funds to build career and technical centers outside of schools. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt proposed investing in high school freshmen so they graduate ready to start a career in cybersecurity or diesel mechanics. Governor Stitt also called for expanding dual enrollment so high school students can more easily earn college credits. Learn more about How Governors Can Execute Their Vision for Workforce Development, NGA’s State Policy Playbook to Advance Youth Apprenticeship, NGA’s Skills-Driven State Community of Practice and Workforce Development in the IIJA, CHIPS and IRA.
“Let’s get them loving to learn again, with apprentice and career opportunities to put them on the path to success.”Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont
With the increasing school staff shortages, at least 27 Governors discussed plans to improve staff recruitment, retention and salaries. For example, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs celebrated launching an Educator Retention Task Force to develop a thorough framework to improve class sizes, resources, working conditions and other factors that will help fix these issues and retain educators. Idaho Governor Brad Little highlighted raising salaries for all teachers, including the most experienced ones, to ensure students have the classroom support they need and noted an average $6,300 pay raise. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves celebrated signing legislation giving Mississippi teachers the largest pay raise in state history and elevated teacher salaries above the national average. In addition, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan noted that the growth in the General Fund revenues has allowed for raising salaries for teachers. Learn more about NGA’s School Leadership Hot Topics Series and NGA’s Community Renewal Task Force Meeting on The Educator Workforce.
“That is why I am asking the Legislature to help me make this the ‘Year of the Teacher.’ Not only can we provide at least a 5% increase to the Weighted Pupil Unit, but we can also give every teacher the largest raise in our state’s history.”Utah Governor Spencer Cox
This year, at least 25 Governors focused on pre-school, kindergarten or P-3 issues. For example, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb proposed funding Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, so children from birth to age five statewide can receive high-quality books each month. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear highlighted that universal pre-K would be fully funded through the Education First Plan, which would help parents rejoin the workforce while ensuring every child is ready for kindergarten. Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo stated the budget appropriates $60 million to expand pre-K opportunities and noted the Department of Education will be charged with implementing the core pre-K programs, measuring results and providing policy recommendations for a long-term strategy to ensure more students are ready for school, when they get to school. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham celebrated the growth of the Early Childhood Trust Fund and proposed providing child care and early education for all families through the investment of more than half a billion dollars. Please find further insights and commentary on early childhood education and care at NGA’s Children & Families Program. Learn more about NGA’s Child Care Action Lab and NGA’s Summer Meeting Session with Dolly Parton.
“We know that the earlier a child is reading on grade level, the better that child will do in later grades — and in life. We also know that what happens to a child before they start school determines their chances of success.”Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
Addressing the impact of interrupted instruction during the pandemic, at least 22 Governors created plans to elevate academic supports for students. For example, Delaware Governor John Carney proposed $50 million for Opportunity Funding on top of more than $100 million in investments already made, which provides direct support for low-income children and English learners. Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee proposed $4 million for out-of-school learning programs and fully funded multilingual learners and high-cost special education to address the needs of these students. Utah Governor Spencer Cox celebrated eighth grade math and reading scores remaining stable between 2019 and 2022, according to The Nation’s Report Card (NAEP). Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin highlighted the bipartisan Virginia Literacy Act, which embraces the science of reading and called for extending reading specialists under the Virginia Literacy Act to the fifth grade. Learn more about NGA’s Governors’ Education Policy Advisors Institute.
“We all want to improve outcomes and ensure our kids are prepared for success. And we’ll start by making sure our kids can bring their full and best selves to our schools and our classrooms.”Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers
Physical and Mental Health
Physical and mental health continued to be a main focus this year. At least 21 Governors discussed increasing student access to physical and mental health support and increasing funding for these supports. For example, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine celebrated OhioRise providing immediate care to over 16,000 Ohio children by helping communities develop new and intensive behavioral health services that are tailored to the specific needs of these children. Vermont Governor Phil Scott noted prioritizing prevention, giving children a healthier start through home visits and partnering with pediatricians to identify risks earlier. Washington Governor Jay Inslee emphasized the importance of meeting students’ social and emotional needs and increased funding last year for schools to hire more nurses, counselors, psychologists and social workers. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers highlighted $30 million of federal pandemic relief funds in the “Get Kids Ahead” initiative to provide every Wisconsin public school district with new resources to expand school-based mental health services. Governor Evers also announced making the “Get Kids Ahead” initiative a permanent state program and declared 2023 the “Year of Mental Health.” Learn more about NGA’s Improving Student, Family and School Staff Well-Being Project and NGA’s 2022-23 Chair’s Initiative on Strengthening Youth Mental Health.
“Leading in prioritizing youth mental health through comprehensive means that don’t just connect kids with resources but empower parents and educators to identify negative signs and provide positive support.”New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
At least 16 Governors discussed the importance of postsecondary financial aid, tuition and student debt. For example, Maine Governor Janet Mills included $71 million for the University System, the Maine Community College System and Maine Maritime Academy, which includes a 4.5 percent increase across the board. Governor Mills also included $10 million to boost the Maine State Grant Program, increasing the maximum grant award to $3,000 to help more Maine students afford the cost of college. In Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey’s Inaugural address, Governor Healey proposed funding a new program called MassReconnect, which will offer free community college to students over 25 who do not have a college degree. Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen provided $39.4 million to fund over 4,200 scholarships for Nebraska students who attend any of Nebraska’s institutes of higher education. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster called on the General Assembly to finalize funding of the Battelle Alliance, a collaborative nuclear sciences research partnership between the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, South Carolina State University and the Savannah River National Laboratory. Governor McMaster highlighted that with an appropriation of $100 million in addition to the $20 million appropriated last year, the alliance will develop workforce training programs designed to develop a pipeline of new talent to fill engineering, science, research and management positions for private industry and nuclear facilities. Learn more about NGA’s Community Renewal Task Force Winter Meeting and NGA’s FASFA Completion Action Lab.
“Let’s keep funding the bipartisan Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which lowers the cost of higher education—community college, private, or public university—by thousands of dollars for most students and makes college tuition-free for 65% of graduating seniors.”Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
NGA’s Center for Best Practices continues to support Governors in a range of issues, including those discussed in the State of the State addresses. Learn more about NGA’s K-12 Education work and stay updated on Governor Murphy’s NGA Chair’s Initiative focused on Strengthening Youth Mental Health.
This article was developed by NGA staff: Jillian Meinhardt and Catherine Van Ness. For more information on Governors’ education efforts please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.