With a new K-12 education law at the federal level – the Every Student Succeeds Act – and rising tuition costs bringing student loan debt to an all-time high, states across the country must develop new solutions to meet the needs of all students.


Our nation’s K-12 education crisis is hardly new. For the last decade and a half, students and educators alike have struggled under the limitations of the No Child Left Behind Act. But in December 2015, we marked a new chapter with the enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This new K-12 education law presents an opportunity to restore decision-making to communities and to create an education system that meets the needs of all students. Whether or not this opportunity is realized depends on the ability of lawmakers, educators, students, and parents to work together to demand change. As schools across the country proceed with ESSA implementation, state legislatures will play a central role in establishing new solutions and accountability systems.

A well-rounded education is not just a nicety, it’s a necessity.”

— U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.

A new, holistic approach to education has taken shape – one that recognizes the importance of communities as stakeholders and puts local educators and parents at the heart of the decision-making process. This community school model uses public schools as hubs – bringing together a range of school and community resources to integrate academics, health and social services, and youth and community development.

Accessing affordable, quality education is becoming harder and harder in communities across the country. While state support for higher education continues to fall, tuition costs are rising, wages have stagnated or declined, and student loan debt is at an all-time high. After adjusting for inflation, tuition at public four-year colleges has risen 325%, and tuition at two-year public and nonprofit institutions has risen 250% over the last 30 years. Students who graduated in 2015 owe, on average, over $35,000 in student loans. These statistics amount to nothing less than a student debt crisis.

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