Georgia Legislator Seeks Best Practices in Education on Tour of European Union Countries

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023

This week, State Senator Sonya Halpern is traveling to the European Union countries of Finland and Estonia as a member of the esteemed Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows program hosted by The Hunt Institute. Sen. Halpern’s mission is to uncover the secrets behind the extraordinary educational success of these nations.

The prestigious Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows program, now in its ninth cohort, is dedicated to cultivating leadership and informed policy development in the field of education. Senator Halpern’s selection as a Fellow underscore her dedication to fostering a dynamic, globally competitive educational system in Georgia.

“Given the achievements in educational equality and excellence acknowledged in Finland and Estonia, I am eager to explore their educational models to gain invaluable perspective and scalable solutions to bring back to the Peach State,” said Halpern. “As the sole elected official from Georgia on this trip, I appreciate the opportunity to represent our state and gain knowledge that could prove valuable in crafting new legislation or policies to help young people in Georgia.”

The tour begins in Finland, a nation that has undergone a remarkable transformation of its education system. In just 15 years, Finland has received international acclaim for its exceptional performance in mathematics, science, and reading on global assessments. What especially sets Finland apart is its ability to meet the diverse needs of its student population, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds, effectively creating one of the world’s smallest academic achievement gaps. Finland has also elevated teaching to a prestigious and highly competitive profession, attracting an impressive number of applicants for each available teaching position.

The next leg of this journey unfolds in Estonia, where substantial strides have been taken to bridge the achievement gap between the wealthiest and most underprivileged students. These efforts have yielded a workforce that is more skilled, educated and globally competitive. The Estonian leg of the tour promises profound insights into tackling educational challenges within a diverse population.

Senator Halpern’s European tour for innovative educational policy exemplifies her commitment to propel education in Georgia to new heights and create a globally competitive system that prepares all students to excel in an ever-changing world.

Founded in 2001 and affiliated with Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, The Hunt Institute is a leading voice in the movement to improve public education. The institute collaborates with a nationwide network of partners to build visionary leadership and drive strategic action for better educational outcomes. For more information, visit