Weekly NewsBriefs 12/27/21 - 1/2/22
School stability is a top priority as principals face an uncertain new year – By Matt Zalaznick, District Administration
As principals look ahead to 2022 through the persistent uncertainty of COVID, helping students rebound from the early impacts of the pandemic will be a top priority.
Many educators underestimated the academic and social-emotional damage that occurred during remote learning in the spring of 2020. It’s not a linear equation—just because students missed half a year of in-person instruction doesn’t mean they only fall half a year behind, says Chris Young, principal of North Country Union High School on Vermont’s Candian border.
“Students are significantly more behind, especially emotionally, than they were when they left us, particularly students transitioning from middle school to high school,” Young says. “Though we can’t start where we would like them to be, we are building a schedule for next year to get them to where they need to be.”
The school’s educators will use its advisory periods, social-emotional learning surveys and academic assessments in continuing efforts to gauge students’ progress and deliver the appropriate supports. The school is also using ESSER funds to academic support staff and counselors. “I believe all students need some level of support—some need a lot less, some are ready to hit the ground running and are more available for learning,” Young says. “Differentiating our approach is going to be important.”
Teachers in 2022 also will be paring down the curriculum to the most essential standards and taking deep dives on those. Finally, Young says he is looking forward to getting the school’s co-curricular and extra-curricular activities ramped up again by removing limits on spectators and discontinuing some COVID protocols. “We’re doing these events but they’re not happening with the same level of enthusiasm,” he says. “I’d love to see the vaccination rate go up because I’d love to see fewer restrictions and recommendations.”
Will Bloomberg's $750M charter donation move the needle on public ed? – By Anna Merod, K-12 Dive
Earlier in December, billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced he would donate $750 million to grow charter schools in 20 metropolitan areas nationwide.
Bloomberg’s donation will cover a five-year period and is significant compared to the $440 million allocated by Congress to charter schools in 2021. If that federal funding continued at the same rate for the next five years, it would total $2.2 billion. That means Bloomberg’s donation would be equal to a third of federal funding for charter schools over that period.
The $750 million donation could significantly help in the construction of new charter schools, said Debbie Veney, executive vice president for communications and marketing at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Since charter schools have to raise their own funding to build new schools, Veney said, this donation is notable for helping speed that fundraising process.
But some education reform experts don’t see how Bloomberg’s large donation will help shift the needle in public education.
$17 trillion: That's how much the pandemic could take away from today's kids – By Anna Kamenetz, NPR
17 trillion dollars.
That's how much the pandemic could cost today's children in terms of lost earnings over a lifetime. The number comes from a new report by the United Nations and the World Bank.
Starting in March 2020 schools closed in nearly every country, for 1.6 billion children. Nearly 2 years later, interruptions continue here in the U.S. and part-time or remote learning is still going on in places from India to Brazil.
In this new report, UNESCO, the educational arm of the U.N., along with UNICEF and the World Bank estimate what these months of disruption could ultimately mean. Shuttered schools combined with frozen economies not only means lost learning, it means students driven into the workforce, some for good.
With less schooling, children learn fewer skills. That takes them out of the running for higher-wage jobs. If they don't make up the time lost in school, it could potentially lead to lost earning over a lifetime. The $17 trillion estimate is up considerably from a $10 trillion estimate released in 2020 because learning interruptions have dragged on.
Investing in teacher wellness has never been more critical – By Beatrice Viramontes, EdSource
Growing up, I witnessed the dedication of teachers daily as I saw my mom work to be the best teacher she could be. She taught first grade for three decades, and every night she toiled over her lesson plans so each plan would be better than the last. She stayed late for school site council meetings and activities she arranged for students and families, like Cinco de Mayo celebrations and Olympic tournaments.
Her labor of love inspired me and my two sisters to become educators. And we all remember the steep learning curve as we first jumped into the profession. Not only do teachers deliver rigorous and relevant instruction, but they also nurture classroom communities, build relationships with families and serve as connectors between families and community resources. A teacher’s work has always been multilayered and complex. These past two years, the work has become even more challenging.
The pandemic required teachers to switch to virtual instruction, then pivot back to hybrid and in-person school. Teachers did this sometimes with limited support and guidance. Teachers wore a multitude of hats — mentor, family point of contact, connector — and played a heavier role in supporting student mental health and wellness amid a pandemic.
There has been much conversation about student wellness and the stress, anxiety and trauma that students are experiencing due to the pandemic; we must expand the conversation to include the toll on teachers. Our education system and schools must include spaces and structures for teachers to engage in wellness practices. Otherwise, teachers will burn out, and we will see an exodus of talent from our schools on top of California’s chronic teacher shortage.