The Weekly Connect 6/15/20

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Because the pandemic has closed schools, students are falling behind in their academics.

A study estimates that it could cost nearly $117 billion to reopen schools.

Schools reopening in other countries provide a road map for reopening schools in the United States.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Police Shootings Lower Black and Latino Students’ Grades, Graduation Rates, Study Shows
Ed Week Teaching Now Blog: As police shootings take the national spotlight, sparking reflection and discussion about racial equity, one researcher from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government has released a study showing how the effects of those shootings seep into nearby schools and affect students’ learning. The report shows that police shootings, particularly when victims are unarmed, lower Black and Latinx students’ grades and the chances they’ll graduate from high school, while White and Asian students are largely unaffected by police shootings. See related article: Chalkbeat “Police Don’t Make Most Black Students Feel Safer, Survey Shows.” 

Research Shows Students Falling Months Behind During Virus Disruptions
The New York Times: New research suggests that by September, most students will have fallen behind where they would have been if they had stayed in classrooms, with some losing the equivalent of a full school year’s worth of academic gains. Racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps will most likely widen because of disparities in access to computers, home internet connections, and direct instruction from teachers. And the crisis is far from over. The harm to students could grow if schools continue to teach fully or partly online in the fall, or if they reopen with significant budget cuts because of the economic downturn. High school dropout rates could increase, researchers say, while younger children could miss out on foundational concepts.

A New Study Ties Anti-Bullying Laws to a Reduction in Suicide — But Boys Were Mostly Unaffected
The 74 Million: Worrying reports of increased depression and anxiety among K-12 students, coupled with rising rates of teen suicide, have stoked the fears of American parents over the past decade. Both doctors and teachers point to the perennial scourge of bullying as a culprit. But new research finds some grounds for hope. According to a working paper circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nationwide spread of anti-bullying laws is associated with reduced bullying, depression, and suicidal ideation among children between the ages of 14 and 18. The laws, perhaps the most prominent tool used by states to curb abusive behavior in school, also significantly decreased suicide in teen girls, but not boys, the study finds. 

Study Shows Declines in New Kindergartners’ Math Skills
Education Dive: Between 2010 and 2017, there was a decline in new kindergartners’ academic skills, particularly in math — a finding that could be linked to the impact of the 2007-2008 recession, according to the authors of a new study published in Educational Researcher. “It is likely that the timing of the Great Recession had some impact on children’s early home environments for some cohorts more than others,” the researchers write. Changing demographics and the implementation of the Common Core standards could contribute, they suggested. The study also includes a positive trend: Black-White and Hispanic-White achievement gaps declined during that time period — even when taking school poverty into account.

Policy

Amid Protests, Districts Re-Examine Police Contracts, Policies
Education Dive: In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, school boards and superintendents nationwide are re-examining their policies around police in schools. This follows years of discussions around the school-to-prison pipeline and complaints of discriminatory discipline policies, as well as weeks of civil rights protests prompted by Floyd’s death. Following Minneapolis Public Schools’ recent decision to end its relationship with the city’s police department, other districts have announced they are discussing their contracts with agencies that provide school resource officers. See related article: Education Week “Do Cops Belong in Schools? Minneapolis Tragedy Prompts a Hard Look at School Police.” 

New Estimate to Reopen Schools After Coronavirus: $116.5 Billion
U.S. News & World Report: A sobering new estimate for how much it will cost schools to reopen in the fall – both safely and with the proper academic and emotional supports in place for the 55 million children whose schools were shuttered as the coronavirus spread across the U.S. – puts the total financial burden at $116.5 billion. “This is a five-alarm fire,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the 1.7-million member teachers union that calculated the estimate. “Since late April we have been exploring ways to safely reopen school buildings in the fall,” she said. According to AFT’s analysis, the average school will need an additional $1.2 million, or $2,300 per student, to open its doors. See related article: Chalkbeat “All Eyes on Congress: For Schools, the Next Stimulus Package Will Shape the Future.”

Around the Nation

How Schools in Other Countries Have Reopened
Education Week: Schools around the world began reopening weeks ago, giving education leaders in the United States different playbooks to study as they wrangle with how to bring students back into buildings this fall. While no other country has been hit as hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as the United States, the early stories of reopening schools in other countries signal a path forward. For example, in New South Wales, students started out by only going to school in-person one day a week and in Denmark, students started off by staying in one classroom all day with the same group of 11-14 other students. See related article: Edutopia “Teachers Around the World Tell Us Reopening is Tough, but Joyful.” 

Illinois School Therapists’ Quandary: Ethical Hurdles, Vague Guidance, Students Left Behind
Chalkbeat: School therapists in Illinois have struggled to figure out how to provide therapy ethically while adhering to often vague guidance. Operating without a playbook and with long lists of children waiting for their services, therapists worry about risking their licenses and not meeting the needs of the children they serve. Across the country, approaches to therapy have differed state by state, between school districts, and even among schools, said Jaumeiko Coleman of the American Speech Language Hearing Association. “Some schools decided to take time and train their service providers and educators,” Coleman says, “others worked hard to get funds to buy the technology necessary. Others decided to just stop providing services all together because of fear of not meeting the demands of the federal government.” 

How One School is Delivering Trauma-Informed Care From Afar
EdSurge: Ever since mid-March, staff members at Valley Day School — an Approved Private School with special designation to serve children in Pennsylvania whose needs cannot be met in traditional public schools — have met with students for about an hour every day during live video sessions. The majority of instruction and school work is done asynchronously. The live sessions prioritize student check-ins, starting with virtual community meetings. It’s not ideal, but staff at Valley Day have tried to make the most of the tools available to transfer elements of the school’s trauma-informed approach, such as sense of safety, connections, relationships, and hope for the future, to a virtual environment. See related article: eSchool News “Buildings are Closed, but This District is Still Teaching and Feeding Its Students.”

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