As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, public education has continued to face challenges. As we watch the nation continue to respond we are seeing five main challenges that we continue to monitor.
- Learning loss: The disruption caused by the pandemic has resulted in significant learning loss (note that we don’t necessarily agree with the premise of learning loss – however, it is a primary dialogue that must be noted) for many students. This is particularly true for low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities, who may have had limited access to technology, support, and resources during remote learning. Addressing this learning loss will require targeted interventions, such as tutoring, summer school, and expanded learning time.
- Mental health and wellbeing: The pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health and well-being of students and educators. Social isolation, stress, and trauma have all taken a toll, and schools will need to prioritize mental health and wellness supports, such as counseling, social-emotional learning, and trauma-informed practices.
- Technology and infrastructure: The shift to remote and hybrid learning has highlighted significant gaps in technology and infrastructure, particularly in under-resourced schools and communities. Addressing these gaps will require significant investment in broadband access, devices, and technical support.
- Teacher retention and recruitment: The pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges related to teacher retention and recruitment. Educators have faced significant stress and burnout, and many have left the profession or are considering doing so. Addressing these challenges will require strategies to support teacher well-being, provide targeted professional development and career pathways, and address compensation and working conditions.
- Funding and resource allocation: The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated existing disparities in funding and resource allocation, particularly between affluent and low-income districts. Addressing these disparities will require significant investment in public education, as well as targeted strategies to address inequities in funding, staffing, and other resources.
Recovering from the pandemic will require a comprehensive approach that addresses the range of challenges facing public education. This will require a sustained commitment to investing in public education and supporting the needs of students, educators, and communities.