Presidential election season brings increased attention to turnover in cabinet positions and Congress. However, when it comes to education, the most important leadership changes occur at the state level: among governors, state boards of education, state legislators, and state leaders of K–12 and higher education systems. That’s because, despite rhetoric to the contrary, education is primarily a state and local issue.
This new report details the changes that took place across the country in 2015 and early 2016 in four key state leadership roles: Governor, State Boards of Education, Chief (leader of the K–12 system), and State Higher Education Executive Officer, or SHEEO (leader of the postsecondary system). All but seven states experienced turnover in at least one of these roles and many will continue to experience change during 2016. Given the number of states who saw new leaders take office — especially as state legislative sessions gear up — it’s critical that education stakeholders such as parents, community leaders, and business leaders be a consistent voice for keeping expectations high and improving student performance in their communities.