“When this school year began, Issac Moreno just couldn’t get himself to go,” writes Jonaki Mehta in a new article for NPR. “The last fully normal school year Issac remembers is third grade. Now, he’s in seventh …Issac’s mother, Jessica Moreno, says it’s been a struggle to get Issac back into the routine of going to school.”
Issac isn’t alone. The decision to close school buildings and keep them closed created ripples of dislocation and broken norms that continue to disrupt the lives of millions of students and their families.
“Before the pandemic, about 8 million U.S. students were considered chronically absent, according to the research group Attendance Works. That’s when a student misses 10% or more of the school year. By spring 2022, that number had doubled to around 16 million,” Mehta writes. “Students who are chronically absent are at higher risk of falling behind, scoring lower on standardized tests and even dropping out. And as often happens in education, students who struggle with attendance are also more likely to live in poverty, be children of color or have disabilities.”
It is an important reminder of the urgency of reaching every child with more than just an invitation to return to normal but the better services, support and opportunities needed for a real recovery.
Last time in the New Reality Roundup, we looked at a new series of essays on a future of education that truly centers families and stated the need to put a focus on kids rather than the conflicts of our political system. This week, we look at a successful summer proof point and the need to replicate it widely and share promising work in supporting English language learners in Connecticut.
FROM THE FIELD
TennesseeCAN applauded Governor Bill Lee for his support of a bill that would expand ESAs to an additional county and thousands of students, including any district that has at least five schools in the bottom 10% of the state. That bill passed the state senate and is now before the House administration full committee.
HawaiiKidsCAN launched their Hawaii Tutoring initiative, a program that pairs K-12 students with virtual tutors to recover from learning loss and secure greater opportunities. “This is so huge,” State Senator Lynn DeCoite said of the program. “My area is probably one of the most remote, most isolated areas without connection. I cannot tell you how grateful we are with the partnerships involved in making sure kids have those opportunities for the resources.” We’re grateful as well to Spectrum, who stepped up with a gift to expand the program to even more students.
NewMexicoKidsCAN’s literacy bill, which supports districts in adopting the science of reading, passed out of the House Education Committee with a 9-1 vote. Unfortunately, a bill requiring transparency and public reporting on how ESSER funding has been spent was tabled on a party line vote after passing the Senate with only one dissenting vote.
Moment of Resilience
ConnCAN Executive Director Subira Gordon, Policy Director Hamish MacPhail, State Grassroots Manager Luis Ortiz and Ramon Garcia, a parent fellow working with ConnCAN, meet with Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont following the Governor’s public comments in support of the English Language Learners Bill of Rights. The ConnCAN team was motivated to champion the bill as a result of conversations with countless parents, students and community leaders who said they felt locked out of educational opportunities because of a lack of support in Connecticut schools.