As state legislative sessions kick off across the nation, education is poised to become a central theme in 2024. From the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in classrooms to debates on school choice and curriculum changes, state lawmakers are gearing up for a robust discussion on the future of education.
Education experts anticipate that much of the activity surrounding education reform will unfold in super-majority Republican states, particularly in the South and Midwest. According to Carol Corbet Burris, executive director for the Network for Public Education, these states have been at the forefront of challenging traditional public school systems in recent years.
One of the key issues on the agenda is school choice, which has gained momentum since the onset of the pandemic. Advocates for school choice are set to renew their efforts in states like Georgia and Texas, where previous attempts fell short in 2023. Education savings accounts (ESAs) were a significant win for school choice backers last year, and this year could see a shift towards tax credit programs, simplifying the process for parents seeking alternatives to public education.
Artificial intelligence in education is a growing concern
The science of reading is expected to take center stage in English-language curricula, with states like Georgia considering additional literacy coaches to support teachers in addressing struggling readers. Oklahoma and Indiana are also set to strengthen their reading curriculum, with Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb emphasizing the importance of ensuring students master reading skills early on.
Artificial intelligence in education is a growing concern, with last year witnessing the introduction of the Artificial Intelligence Literacy Act to promote AI skill development in schools. As AI technology continues to raise questions about cheating and its impact on students, states are expected to provide more guidance on how to incorporate AI in the classroom responsibly.
The teaching profession faces challenges like a critical shortage of educators.
The teaching profession faces ongoing challenges, including a critical shortage of educators. Recruitment and retention bills have emerged in states like Missouri and New York, while Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Indiana are exploring reforms to teaching requirements and certifications. Teacher pay is also a pressing issue, with Missouri introducing a bill to set minimum salaries for the 2025-2026 school year, aiming to address the broader problem of educators wanting to leave their jobs earlier than planned.
The National Education Association’s findings from last year indicate that a significant percentage of educators wish to leave their positions earlier than intended due to increased workloads resulting from unfilled positions. This struggle with teacher retention and pay has even led some schools to adopt a four-day school week.
In conclusion, the 2024 state legislative sessions promise to be a battleground for crucial education issues. From school choice and curriculum changes to the integration of AI and addressing the teacher shortage crisis, state lawmakers are gearing up to shape the future of education in the United States. The decisions made in state capitols this year will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the nation’s education system.