Mental health, lessons and more – the 74s

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John Bailey is off this week; this review of news on research and policy about COVID was compiled by Joshua Parrish of the Collaborative for Student Success.

Coins and banknote in a glass jar placed on the textbook. Concept of saving money for education.

This week’s top story

The COVID School Relief Funds You May Not Know About

  • Education Week explained a third, lesser-known pool of federal dollars being used to help schools recover from the pandemic in an explanation published this week. The Governor’s Education Emergency Funds represent approximately $7 billion in available resources for education and will be administered by state governors.
  • After federal officials recently uncovered examples of these funds being misused in Oklahoma, more communities and educators are asking questions about their use. Education Week notes that there is no national effort to track the specific spending and use of these funds, which give governors great leeway in targeting a wide range of education spending.
  • In most states, the governor’s emergency fund dollars appear to have been used largely to address the immediate needs of schools—technology and Internet access, mental health services, and stipends to professionals and teachers for classroom supplies.

The Big Three – August 19, 2022

Nearly $300 million in grants are intended to support mental health services in schools

  • The Biden administration has announced approximately $300 million in federal grant funding for states and localities seeking to strengthen their mental health services and supports.
  • Two grant programs, each consisting of about $150 million, will support states in recruiting mental health professionals into school programs while expanding lists of qualified school-based service providers.
  • In the announcement, the White House also noted millions in mental health funding available to schools through the Department of Health and Human Services and the administration’s expanded funding for “community schools,” which aim to bring together critical health and wellness services in local school campuses.
AmeriCorps has increased its work in public schools since the start of the pandemic. (AmeriCorps)

Despite the urgency, the new national training effort could take 6 months to ramp up

  • Some education experts see “lost opportunities” after the Biden administration announced a national effort to hire 250,000 teachers and mentors across the country as students enter a third pandemic summer.
  • But others note that the White House platform and AmeriCorps — the federal program that has recruited volunteers for decades for a wide range of community services — could be a game-changer in helping states and localities overcome acute staffing shortages that have persisted through the whole pandemic.
  • And while some states have already begun successfully using large-scale learning initiatives as key parts of their recovery plans, some worry that the rapid deployment of an army of educators could falter without clear support systems grounded in evidence. materials and deliberate alignment of learning and assessment systems.

Staffing shortages drive up labor costs, which could cause a credit crunch for K-12

  • Experienced, well-equipped principals will be key to schools successfully navigating the coming years as historic amounts of federal funding expire and education leaders face deepening concerns about inflation and staffing shortages, experts say in a new study released in Journal of Educational Administration.
  • According to the study, principals who have led their first school for five or more years are able to attract and retain teachers more successfully—a rare feat since the average principal stays at a school for an average of four years.
  • Experts recommend that district leaders invest in high-quality professional development for principals, deploy experienced principals to all districts, and develop state licensing standards and principal PD programs to help ensure a strong pool of school leaders in the coming years.

City and State Updates

HAWAII: State finds poor air quality in 10% of classrooms

INDIANA: Indianapolis district reports improvements in math and literacy after spring tutoring program

ARIZONA: Gov. Doug Ducey’s free summer camp program benefits 100,000 Arizona kids

MICHIGAN: Feds investigate Michigan’s special education guidelines

OKLAHOMA: State to invest $5 million in online math tutoring program

PENNSYLVANIA: Governor Tom Wolf Announces Over $384 Million in Early Childhood Education Grants

NEW YORK: The state Department of Education is accepting comments on the school accountability system reboot

CALIFORNIA: LA Unified officials are knocking on doors, urging chronically absent students to return

COLORADO: Colorado report outlines pandemic’s impact on college-going students

Points of view

The smooth end of the pandemic

  • Catherine J. Wu in the Atlantic
  • “Americans have been given the all-clear to abandon much of the pandemic-oriented behavior that has defined the past two-plus years — an integral part of the narrative the Biden administration is building around a ‘triumphant return to normalcy,'” said Joshua Salomon, a researcher at health policy at Stanford.
  • “The main remaining guard against COVID is requiring people to be up-to-date on their vaccines, which most in the US are not; most children under 5 who choose Pfizer’s vaccine won’t even have enough time to complete their initial three-dose series by the start of the school year.

Should we be soft on students after the pandemic? Maybe not

  • Jay Matthews in the Washington Post
  • “Many believe that the disastrous educational effects of the pandemic mean we should leave our children at least for a while… Could this be the wrong approach?”
  • “The College Board has collected data that shows that students need to be challenged more rather than less. The results suggest that students who were required to commit early in the AP course to the difficult final exam did better than those who were allowed to decide later whether to take the big test.
  • “I’ve interviewed hundreds of students who said that their anxiety about taking the tough AP exams made them work harder in class than they would have otherwise.”


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