Virtual learning is not going away, but it must improve, especially for students of color and those facing economic insecurity. We cannot repeat the emergency distance learning that took place in 2020 and 2021, and we remain unprepared to implement online learning when the need arises. This brief, with input from a summer 2021 roundtable featuring Bellwether's Juliet Squire, provides a guide for education leaders and policymakers building a path to sustainable and quality virtual learning.
In New York City, microschools and learning pods grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2020-21 school year due to frequent school closings. Unfortunately, New York’s current lack of public assistance programs for middle and low income families, among other factors, make their future uncertain. How can policymakers allow these alternative programs to thrive?
Asking our educators to return to school buildings at this moment is not just wrong—it has wasted time and diverted attention from the real task at hand. The real task is the hardest one, the one that’s been there all along: crush coronavirus transmission rates to a level that will permit a return to at least hybrid instruction.
Schools need help bringing special-needs kids back to class. But if they can't, here are 3 paths for supporting learning online. Virtual learning, by and large, is not working for students with special needs. But it is unacceptable to throw up our hands because of the very real challenges in serving children with disabilities during COVID.
Seven school districts are participating in a national cohort that has been planning more equitable and resilient approaches to teaching and learning — both for going back to school and for long-term sustainable change. This network of learning communities, called the Always Ready For Learning Strategy Lab, is working together to develop school system strategies. Bellwether’s Lauren Schwartze shared six takeaways from Strategy Lab districts’ back-to-school plans.
When it comes to education spending, we’re missing the fiscal forest for the most visible trees. This has been a golden era of education spending. Our aging population is about to put an end to it, whatever politicians do.
Collectively, retirements of teachers and other education employees dropped 5% this year in Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Only Alabama reported an increase.
Schools and the fragmented social services sector have not pivoted quickly enough to support new needs in this crisis and generally lack sufficient resources to support marginalized students. Too often, these students are an afterthought in the political budgeting process as other communities and schools advocate for funding. But Denver, and locales across the nation, can be more nimble and reallocate available services to help vulnerable students.
Bellwether’s Chad Aldeman compared the number of hours of live instruction planned this year for 5th-, 8th- and 11th-graders in 10 large districts with their state’s requirement for the amount of school time students should normally receive. Chad’s local Fairfax Virginia’s remote learning schedule offers less than half of a typical school year to my first-grade son. Here's how 10 of the nation's largest districts are doing.
The more than 7,000 youth in foster care in the Los Angeles Unified School District experience significant obstacles in receiving an uninterrupted, quality education. Now, with COVID-19 cases rising and schools often starting the fall with distance learning, youth in foster care have fewer touchpoints from educators and case workers, leaving them even more vulnerable during this crisis.