In recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week, we are highlighting some of the many celebrations of teachers in governors’ State of the State addresses this year. Policies related to teachers, particularly compensation, were one of the top mentioned themes in this year’s addresses.
Broadly speaking, many governors spoke to the critical role teachers play in students’ learning and overall well-being. Gov. Mark Gordon in Wyoming remarked:
“Teachers are one of the most important predictors of student achievement. They are the catalyst that will ensure the future success of our communities and our children.”
In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly reflected:
“I believe — and I think we can all agree — that the classroom is a very special place. It is where young minds are shaped and inspired. It’s where professional teachers devote every fiber of their being to ensuring that our students — our children — are cared for, are nurtured, are supported and are educated.”
A Celebration of Teacher Impact
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore spoke of the impact teachers and other school staff had on him personally, saying:
“I am only here right now because of people in my life who stepped up even when they were not called. People who served, even if they did not call it that. People who were willing to sacrifice in the moment for the hope of a better tomorrow. The teachers, who gave me the tools to think for myself. The coaches who pushed me, even when I wanted to stop. … and the school counselors who helped me see a horizon I was not ready to see for myself.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin also recognized the work of teachers in his own education, stating:
“The right education of our youth is impossible without great teachers. I am constantly reminded of Mrs. Betty Weaver, my fourth grade teacher at Watkins Elementary School. She challenged me, pushed me and encouraged me.”
A Celebration of Teacher-Centered Policy
With this widespread recognition of teachers’ value and contribution, many governors celebrated or proposed specific policies related to strengthening the teaching profession.
Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox said:
“If we want to guarantee that we have the best teachers, we must invest in our teachers. 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 passed H.B. 215, increasing teacher salaries by $4,200 and providing employer-paid benefits to qualifying educators.
Teacher compensation was also a focus in New Mexico. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s address praised recent teacher pay raises (S.B 1 in 2022), saying:
“After years of being chronically undervalued and criminally underpaid, public school teachers in New Mexico now earn the highest salaries in the Southwest.”
Governors also addressed other policies related to supporting the teaching profession in their addresses. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte’s address focused on early career teachers and teacher recruitment. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s address paid specific attention to support for student teachers (including compensation), and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds celebrated recent work around teacher apprenticeships — among many other examples.
Your team at Education Commission of the States is glad to join governors across the country in expressing our appreciation for teachers — this week and always. Click here to learn more about ECS’ work with policies impacting the teaching profession.