Some have been pushed to take more inventive approaches to solve the staffing shortages. In Philadelphia, during a districtwide bus-driver shortage, the district paid families $300 a month to drive their kids to and from school. Atlanta Public Schools used nearly $2.2 million to provide on-site child care for 1,800 teachers to enable them to staff summer programs. Sometimes, retaining teachers has come at the cost of other planned investments: the Alamance-Burlington School System in North Carolina planned to spend $36 million on HVAC upgrades; amid severe staff shortages last fall, it put $10 million of that money toward teacher bonuses instead.
Once they’ve hired the staff, districts have tended to focus on three approaches to addressing learning loss: summer learning, intensive tutoring and extending the school day, often through after-school programs. According to Burbio, 62 percent of districts plan on summer learning or after-school programs, allocating $1.7 million on average; 23 percent are planning on tutoring, with average spending of $1.4 million. The cost and scale are often staggering. With $27 million, Baltimore created an enormous summer-school program, hiring over a thousand educators to teach 15,000 students at 75 different sites and conduct more than 3,000 home visits. Dallas will spend close to $100 million to extend learning opportunities for nearly 22,000 students, including reinventing the school calendar. Instead of an annual 10-week vacation, a fifth of the district’s campuses will add five weeklong “intersessions” across the calendar, during which students who have fallen behind can still attend school and receive more personalized attention.
But however much sense it might make to address lost learning by expanding time in the classroom, a longer school year or summer school often aren’t politically feasible. In their advocacy on behalf of exhausted, burned-out teachers, unions often protest proposals that require more work from educators, whether a shorter summer, longer school days or mandatory tutoring. Parents themselves often aren’t much interested in tutoring and summer school, particularly when they think their kids aren’t struggling. Many educators are still grading students on a pandemic-adjusted curve, which may be skewing parents’ understanding of the extent to which the crisis has hampered their own children’s educational progress. According to a recent Brookings Institution report, 90 percent of parents responded that their child was doing well academically; less than a quarter were interested in summer school and only 28 percent in tutoring.
Objections from educators and apathy from parents often dilute proposals to add school hours to the point that they become ineffective. In the spring, the Los Angeles Unified School District considered a proposal to lengthen the upcoming school year by two weeks. After opposition from the teachers’ union and lukewarm support from families, the Board of Education instead voted in favor of adding four optional days of school for students, citing the widespread exhaustion among educators. “Students in Los Angeles will have lost the equivalent of 22 weeks of typical math learning,” says Thomas Kane, the faculty director of Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research. “There is no way you can make up for 22 weeks of lost learning with four optional days.”
The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”
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My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results
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