Students missed out on 11 million instructional days due to out-of-school suspensions in a single academic year, according to new research that details major disparities in how those suspensions are given to Black and Hispanic students and paints a portrait of an alarming and systemic problem with school discipline in the U.S. The findings headline a new report from the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the UCLA Civil Rights Project and the Learning Policy Institute, which analyzed federal data from the 2015-16 school year for nearly every school district in the country.
Illinois, like many other states, faces a teacher shortage that is particularly acute in rural and urban classrooms. The state’s teaching ranks also lack needed diversity, as the teacher workforce is 85-percent white, even as mounting research shows students of color benefit from having teachers of color. To help address these challenges, the Illinois P20 Council, The Joyce Foundation, and EdSystems partnered in May 2019 to launch Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois (SEPI). The initiative is funding nine communities to build streamlined teacher career pathways that begin in high school, extend into postsecondary, and allow students to get on a strong path to a teaching license. SEPI has a special focus on helping students from diverse backgrounds become educators.
Education advocates said it’s imperative to get students back in classrooms because virtual learning is negating months of education and could cost students nearly a year’s earnings in adulthood, according to one analysis. Advance Illinois, a nonprofit education advocate, presented findings from a number of studies to the Joint Senate Education and Higher Education Wednesday. Their overarching theme detailed how schools and teachers are doing yeoman’s work to maintain a sense of normalcy for students but learning virtually creating significant impairments for students that no one can fathom.
Discipline disparities between Black and white boys have driven reform efforts for years. But Black girls are arguably the most at-risk student group in the United States. Zulayka McKinstry’s once silly, sociable daughter has stopped seeing friends, talking to siblings and trusting anyone — changes Ms. McKinstry dates to the day in January 2019 when her daughter’s school principal decided that “hyper and giddy” were suspicious behaviors in a 12-year-old girl. Ms. McKinstry’s daughter was sent to the nurse’s office and forced to undress so that she could be searched for contraband that did not exist. “It’s not fair that now I have to say, ‘It’s OK to be Black and hyper and giddy,’ that it’s not a crime to smile,” Ms. McKinstry said. “And she doesn’t believe me.”
Over the next two years, the influenza pandemic would turn those children’s world upside down, claiming more than a half million lives in the United States. Many years later, some survivors would recount childhood memories of grief, isolation, economic privation and fear, but children’s emotional scars went largely unacknowledged and untreated. A century later, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the mental health of children and youths is attracting more attention, but dwindling state resources and scant information could hamper plans to address that impact.
As Americans continue to navigate the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, some educators are considering an option many states created before the current crisis: an early retirement package. Early retirement incentives have grown in popularity over the past several decades as a cost savings strategy. The theory is that replacing experienced, higher-paid educators with younger staff at lower salaries might reduce overall expenditures. In response to the pandemic, some policymakers have cited creating an option for employees who are more vulnerable to the virus to safely exit the workforce as another potential benefit of early retirement incentives.
In today’s technology-rich world, preserving the American democracy involves ensuring that digital tools facilitate the productive and equitable exchange of information and opportunity, rather than misinformation and division. In recent months, we have observed examples of both cases: young Americans using technology to raise awareness for racial justice and others using those same tools to share falsehoods about COVID-19. Schools can equip upcoming generations of students to rise above such division by adopting a comprehensive vision of digital citizenship that encompasses the critical competencies to discern fact from fiction, navigate relationships and use technology to champion change.
Few administrators felt prepared for the coronavirus pandemic that shut down schools in the spring, although many said they felt most prepared to equip students with laptops or tablets and to provide meals and other essential resources for families in need when schools shut down in spring, according to the Education Dive: K-12’s COVID-19 Preparedness Survey. The school and district administrators nationwide took the survey between July and August. The results provide a snapshot of where education leaders nationwide stood at the onset of the crisis — and how prepared they feel to address a similar emergency in the future.
The national youth suicide rate has been on the rise for years. But now, in the months since the pandemic pushed students into haphazard remote learning and sent the economy into a tailspin, students say the unprecedented disruption has taken a toll on their emotional well-being. Researchers worry that a surge in youth depression and anxiety could drive a spike in youth suicide rates. The nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise, which runs the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System that allows students to file tips if they believe a classmate may harm themselves or others, has seen a 12 percent spike in suicide-related reports since March. Yet the pandemic’s effect on suicide rates remains unclear, in part because federal data on the subject is released on a two-year delay. But it’s already become a political football ahead of the election next month.