New Research Center to Focus on Rural Leadership, Challenges, and Innovation

A new center on rural leadership and education is being set up at the University of Denver. The Center for Innovative Rural Collaboration for Leadership in Education, or CIRCLE, recently got the greenlight from the University Council for Educational Administration, the organization that oversees leadership-preparation programs at higher-education institutions. CIRCLE is the first standalone center that the UCEA has approved in years, and it will join others that specialize in areas like equity and urban education.

New Illinois report examines attitudes toward education as pandemic continues

The Illinois Education Association, one of the largest teacher unions in the state, on Tuesday released its third annual state of education report examining attitudes toward public education in Illinois. The poll, conducted by Normington Petts and Next Generation Strategies, surveyed 1,000 different Illinois adults of varying backgrounds and regions of the state by phone or online. One of the main takeaways from the poll, according to IEA, was that nearly 8 in 10 adults believe the COVID-19 pandemic has made teaching and learning more difficult. (The Pantagraph)

Report Highlights Challenges Facing Rural Communities

In an effort to analyze the role of community colleges within rural communities, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) released a new report titled, “Strengthening Rural Community Colleges: Innovations and Opportunities.” The report, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, calls attention to the experiences of rural community colleges in five states including North Carolina, Texas, California, Kentucky and Iowa. With 32 of 37 main campuses located in rural areas, the research also examined six tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) in Montana and North Dakota.

Families Face Steep Truancy Fines, Contentious Court Battles As Pandemic Creates School Attendance Barriers

Feuds between frustrated parents and overwhelmed school administrators are playing out across the country as the pandemic’s academic upheaval reaches the one-year mark. States continue to enforce laws that require families to send their children to school or face steep punishments for unexcused absences, including fines, community service and, in some states, arrests. These “truancy” rules have exacerbated the pandemic-induced challenges confronting many households, from economic instability and mental health crises to a lack of adequate internet access. It’s often these very hardships, school attendance experts say, that force students to miss school in the first place.

The wealth gap: How it happened and what can be done

The wealth of a typical Black family in the United States is about 13 percent of a white family. For a Hispanic family, it’s about 21 percent. And the average median household income for Black families is about 60 percent of the average income for a white family. Those stark numbers tell us much about the wealth gap, a phrase that has become the shorthand term for the enormous disparity in the fortunes of white and minority families that has been underscored in the past year following the police killing of George Floyd and focus on systemic racism.

How School Districts Can Leverage Data in These Uncertain Times

Educators are grappling with unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, as of now, federal testing requirements have not been waived. Achievement scores from spring 2021 tests will be difficult to interpret without information about the conditions of student learning, leaving room for an accountability gap. Although state education agencies might have little ability to close the gap with additional data, local school districts have access to much richer data, which could be especially useful this year. School districts might use, analyze, and report their data for two key purposes: (1) identifying needs at the student, teacher, and school levels and (2) closing the accountability gap through increased transparency.