It is week 76 of our new reality and in many schools and districts sharp divisions over masking and vaccinations threaten to derail an already difficult return to in-person schooling.
As our campaigns across the 50CAN network work with parent advocates to put the needs of students front and center, we are excited to announce Michele Mason as our new Chief Operating Officer. We’re thankful to have such a strong advocate for children with deep experience in schools and communities on the team at this key moment.
Last time in the New Reality Roundup, we spoke with Meredith Olson of the VELA Education Fund on the educational opportunities that await students outside of the schoolhouse walls and examined the need to meet parent demands for a full-time, virtual option.
This week, we look at how partisan debates over masking have obscured the much more significant problem lying before the education sector: the vast learning loss students have experienced nationwide. We also highlight the work of Keri Rodrigues and the National Parents Union to make sure the views of parents are front and center in the halls of power when decisions are made.
FROM THE FIELD
HawaiiKidsCAN was recently selected as the recipient of a prestigious Change Grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation, in part due to their efforts to provide internet access to rural and low-income communities which has now garnered HawaiiKidsCAN Executive Director David Miyashiro national media attention.
This week also marks the beginning of HawaiiKidsCAN’s #BelieveInBetterHI online giving campaign, as David works to build grassroots support for the work to put Hawaiian kids’ needs first. Supporters and partners from across the Aloha State have lined up to offer appreciation and testimonials for the work HawaiiKidsCAN has done throughout the pandemic.
In Denver, the Transform Education Now team is building upon legislation passed this summer to ensure districts meet parents’ requests for transparency in how federal funds are being spent. In a new op-ed, co-Executive Director Nicholas Martinez notes, “The proposed budget presented for the board’s consideration in May indicated that most of the federal stimulus dollars will go to maintain the status quo.”
After graduation rates soared this year in Santa Fe, NewMexicoKidsCAN’s Executive Director Amanda Aragon is pushing for more transparency on how students are actually doing. “I do know, out of an abundance of trying to navigate a crazy world, there was a lot of push from the education department to make sure that students were able to graduate,” she told the New Mexican. Tracking college remediation rates will help us understand if the high school graduation rate is representative of true student learning or merely shifting the work to other institutions.
Moment of Resilience
Third grade teacher and cancer survivor Teresa Murphy, who was selected as Miami-Dade’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, prepares to teach in her classroom for the first time in 17 months. “I love what I do,” Murphy told the Miami Herald. “And I don’t think I realized that I still love what I do, as much as I did Day One, until last year.” The challenges will be immense. As Ms. Murphy’s colleague, fourth grade teacher Lidys Toro asks, “How can I meet my learners, as far as what they need academically, but also emotionally, because they have gone through so much this past year?”