Week 98
January 23, 2022

It is week 98 of our New Reality Roundup and in the ebb and flow between disruption and recovery, it looks like the retreat of Omicron may finally be bringing the efforts to help catch kids up back into focus.

As we suggested last time in the New Reality Roundup, the first step is to stop digging the hole we are in by limiting school closures this winter to ensure kids don’t fall further behind. As a new international report from UNICEF puts it: “The evidence is clear that there is no replacement for in-person learning and schools should reopen as soon as possible.”

This week, we look at what it will take to ensure all kids get high-quality tutoring and speak to Amanda Aragon, executive director of NewMexicoKidsCAN, about her efforts to help parents stay informed through an innovative new initiative focused on local education news–NMEducation.org–that launches today.



Insist on effective tutoring for all

One year ago, we released the policy memo Tutoring as an Emergency Response and Recovery Strategy, writing: “Tutoring is an intervention increasingly under discussion–and with good reason. It is one of the few educational strategies that we know works for almost all kids.”  In the January 2021 memo, we outlined five principles for using the new influx of federal funds to support effective tutoring initiatives, putting the emphasis on local leadership, parents as partners and new approaches to measurement.

Since that time, our network has secured key wins in pursuit of high-quality tutoring for every child, with victories in states like Colorado–where the TEN team secured passage of HB1234 to create a statewide tutoring program, Hawaii–where the team helped launch new learning pods, and New Jersey–where our local leaders encouraged the Murphy administration to identify federal funding to offer tutoring opportunities to a greater number of students. In addition, philanthropic leaders stepped up to fund the New Jersey Tutoring Corps through the Pandemic Relief Fund.

Despite these bright spots, it’s clear that not all tutoring efforts are on track to deliver the support America’s kids deserve. Dana Goldstein, writing this past weekend for The New York Times, raises a red flag about what is actually being funded when districts say they are investing in tutoring: “because of labor shortages, the high cost of quality tutoring and the influence of a growing ed-tech industry, much of the tutoring will itself take place through a computer screen — and not always with a human on the other end.”

“Some programs use live video to try to replicate in-person tutoring as closely as possible,” Goldstein writes. “Others skip the human tutor and use artificial intelligence. And some are essentially instant-messaging services, with students and tutors randomly paired for brief typed chats, often organized around homework assignments.”

By contrast, the 50CAN teams have put the focus on personal connections, community ties and measurable results. As HawaiiKidsCAN Executive Director David Miyashiro shared: “HawaiiKidsCAN has seen the devastating impact of the pandemic on student learning, and the team stepped up to provide direct support for students on Lanai, one of Hawaii’s most rural islands, through an in-person pods learning program that deployed microgrants made possible via support from local and national funders. As part of the program, a local church on-island set up an afterschool and summer tutoring program that served more than 50 kids from ages 5-17 years old, using their microgrant to hire educators from the local public school.” The next step, Miyashiro shared, is scaling up this model “by introducing legislation in the 2022 session to create a publicly-funded statewide grants program.”

Similarly, one of the New Jersey tutoring programs, the NJ Tutoring Corps, is off to a promising start, due to the leadership of NJ Tutoring Corps Executive Director Katherine Bassett, who built the summer program in just 34 days. Serving 13 counties across the state, NJ.com reports: “Ninety paid tutors served 2,000 students and gained teaching experience this past summer through the program, which aimed to decrease potential learning loss.” The program is now re-starting this winter, in addition to other tutoring programs that districts are providing.

to push forward towards the goal of high-quality tutoring for all and insist that programs are built from the ground up to maximize the gains for students rather than to simply check a box. 

Help parents stay informed

“I think staffing newsrooms across the country is, for many reasons, a great challenge,” NewMexicoKidsCAN Executive Director Amanda Aragon tells 50CAN President Derrell Bradford in a new video interview. “And so, unfortunately, despite the best efforts of incredible partners in the press which we have here in New Mexico, they don’t have enough capacity to cover education to the extent that we think it deserves to be covered.”

After hearing from parent after parent about the need for more information about their schools, Aragon decided to step forward to fill the gap. The result is NMEducation.org which launches today as a non-partisan news site that will connect parents with the most important education stories in the Land of Enchantment.


GeorgiaCAN obtained the first win of 2022 in the 50CAN network when they secured an allocation of $4.1 million of GEER money to help create 10 new charter schools throughout the state, a priority the team has had for the past two years. The team is also hosting the virtual Savannah Charter School Expo this week, an event that garnered attention from the local media.

DelawareCAN is also celebrating School Choice Week by hosting an event alongside the Delaware Charter Network, featuring a panel discussion with school leaders, educators and advocates.

TennesseeCAN’s >Victor Evans hit the media circuit last week to address how the 30-year old public funding formula in the state isn’t meeting the needs of under-resourced students and schools. Meanwhile TEN’s Nicholas Martinez shared his thoughts on the developing financial shortfall for Denver’s schools, as families have fled the rising prices in one of the country’s hottest markets.

Key Resources

The Urban Institute released a report on Atlanta’s East Lake Initiative, which invested $600 million on redevelopment, cradle-to-college education and community wellness services.

JeffCo Public Schools launched a career fair that connected over 1,300 high school sophomores with representatives from 60 Colorado companies to discuss career pathways.

Transcend Education provided educators with new conversation and surveying tools to engage students on how they’d like to see education change and improve in the wake of the pandemic.

A new working paper from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University concludes that the “massive effort to institute new high-stakes teacher evaluation systems” over the past decade had no measurable impact on student outcomes.

Writing in The 74 Million, Jenee Henry Wood and Joel Rose argue on the 20th anniversary of No Child Left Behind that the landmark law fell short in part because it “did little to stoke any form of R&D investment to modernize the K-12 delivery model.”

The State of Oklahoma documents how they’ll use 13 million dollars to embrace the science of reading and reform early literacy instruction throughout the state.

VELA Education showcases a network of nature-based homeschools called Barefoot University, a program that’s become so popular that each of their chapters now has a waitlist.

Moment of Resilience

Windsor, Connecticut 5th grader, Makhi Ettienne-Modeste, was recently selected as the 2022 Kid Governor of Connecticut, having run on a platform centered around preventing animal cruelty. Makhi’s efforts are a reminder of the joy of great student advocacy and the importance–especially during a crisis–of not taking a year off in the work to make our world better.

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