Washington, D.C. (March 23, 2021) – Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Board President and Nebraska Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt today delivered a State of the States address at the Council’s 2021 Legislative Conference, sharing state education leaders’ work to meet all students’ needs amid the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
“Time and time again state leaders have stepped up – and continue to step up – to lead for our nation’s students. We’ve innovated in real time to get students fed and into quality online classroom settings with computer devices and internet service – and ultimately, in much of the country, back into school buildings,” Blomstedt said in prepared remarks. “Even while navigating this crisis, state leaders have never lost sight of the future and are carefully looking at ways to enhance and provide new accelerated learning opportunities.”
Blomstedt highlighted examples from across the country of important state efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis in a variety of areas, including closing the digital divide, re-engaging students who had not connected during remote learning, supporting student and teacher mental health, emphasizing new efforts to support reading skills, and addressing accelerated learning planning.
The speech, at the opening of CCSSO’s virtual Legislative Conference, also celebrated state education leaders’ work with governors and state health officials, with members of Congress and leaders of other federal agencies, and among themselves.
He also reiterated states leaders’ commitment to address persistent inequalities.
“State leaders every day are striving to confront inequities to build a more fair and just education system that will truly serve the needs of every student. For we know that our collective failure as a nation to successfully confront the pandemics of poverty, racism, and injustice left us more vulnerable to the pandemic of COVID-19 and the consequences it will have for generations,” Blomstedt said in prepared remarks.
Blomstedt concluded by urging state education leaders to build on the momentum of innovations created during the pandemic.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that states will continue to lead as we ultimately transition out of this crisis stronger and more resilient,” he said. “State leaders must, and will, keep the drive and energy going. We must be bold in the quest to create the modern education system that every student deserves.”
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, Bureau of Indian Education, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.
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