It’s the season of gratitude — the time to reflect and celebrate, to give back and to count our successes. This year has been full of promising work, strong connections and travel — lots of travel. We’re thankful for every bit — every new (and continued) relationship with each of you, every opportunity we have to provide technical assistance or other research to support informed policymaking, and all of the in-person visits you facilitate when we travel to your states.
Our Commissioners — each state and the four U.S. territories can appoint up to seven — help guide our work and their own state’s education agenda. We are thankful to have onboarded more than 100 new Commissioners in 2019 alone, and we are excited to see over 100 of our new and returning Commissioners at our annual Winter Commissioners Meeting next month. We offer these invite-only opportunities as a way for our Commissioners to connect, share ideas and learn from the latest research and promising practices — opportunities that we hope inform the great work that they and you all do. We are thankful for their dedication to educational improvement and building the best possible workforce for the future of our nation.
I’d be remiss not to give a special thanks to our leadership: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Idaho Rep. Wendy Horman and Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven, who provide critical guidance on our Executive Committee.
Of course, we couldn’t do any of this without the 60-plus strong staff at Education Commission of the States, which — for the third consecutive year — was named one of the Top 10 Best Nonprofits to Work For. In 2019, your education policy team produced 40 new policy products on top education issues, published more than 100 blog posts on timely topics and trends, tracked more than 9,600 bills across all 50 states and its territories, analyzed 1,600 of those bills that made it to the governor’s desk, and answered more than 600 information requests — all while making more than 400 visits to 44 states to provide in-person support and technical assistance. They saw a record number of you — nearly 600 —in Denver for our National Forum on Education Policy this year, and they put together more than 20 additional, smaller covenings across the country for you, too.
Indeed, we have a lot of be grateful for — namely, all of you. In this season of gratitude and reflection, we hope you, too, take the time to count your successes. There are many wins to celebrate and other challenges to learn from, and we look forward to continuing to support you and your work in 2020.