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The New Reality Roundup | Week 96

“American children are starting 2022 in crisis,” writes David Leonhardt in The New York Times. His clear-eyed recitation of the facts is required reading as we prepare for the work ahead:

  • “Children fell far behind in school during the first year of the pandemic and have not caught up.”
  • “Many children and teenagers are experiencing mental health problems.”
  • “Suicide attempts have risen.”
  • “Gun violence against children has increased.”
  • “Many schools have still not returned to normal, worsening learning loss and social isolation.”
  • “Behavior problems have increased.”
  • “The Omicron variant is now scrambling children’s lives again.”

At the core of all these problems is one common thread: “For the past two years, Americans have accepted more harm to children in exchange for less harm to adults.” In education, that has meant one disruption after another for children’s schooling, with the most disturbance and harm forced upon working class families.

While many of us had hoped that the 2021-22 school year could be one of recovery for America’s schoolchildren, it increasingly looks like this will be a year where they slip even further behind.

Last time in the New Reality Roundup, we focused on the facts about Omicron and the progress education advocates made across the country in 2021. This week, we argue that in order to move to recovery, we urgently need to reopen schools and keep them open through the rest of the school year. We also explore whether the huge influx of federal dollars that was meant to keep schools open and help students in need is actually doing so.

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