By Asher Lehrer-Small

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EDlection 2020: Follow our analysis as additional winners are declared at The74Million.org/Election — and get the latest results, news and investigations delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter.

While it was the outcome of the presidential election that had the nation on edge through Saturday when Joe Biden was finally declared the winner, contests up and down the ballot in 2020 will have long-term consequences for education coast to coast. …


By Kevin Mahnken

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Getty Images

Over seven months after much of society shut down in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no uniform policy guiding school districts through the return of tens of millions of students to in-person education. In most jurisdictions, officials have spent the last few months balancing risks and responsibilities, resulting in millions of American students returning to the classroom even as millions of their peers still spend their days in front of a screen.

According to a growing number of education commentators, one major factor determining school reopenings is politics. In comparing how districts chose to either continue with virtual learning or welcome students back to their buildings, several academic and independent researchers have found that policymakers are guided more by the voting preferences of their neighbors than coronavirus case numbers. …


By Beth Hawkins

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NOLA Public Schools’ decision last year to revoke Mary D. Coghill Elementary School’s charter is an issue in this year’s school board election. (Mary D Coghill Elementary School via Facebook)

In the nine years after Hurricane Katrina, average New Orleans school performance scores rose 41 percent — a feat researchers have linked to the state’s willingness to close chronically underperforming schools and replace them with better programs.

So when the state returned the schools to the control of the Orleans Parish School Board four years ago, the architects of the experiment took a collective deep breath. Elected school boards are notoriously sensitive to the pressures of local politics, and few moves are as unpopular as school closures. …


Analysis by Chad Aldeman

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The term “chronic absenteeism” is defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days in a year. By that standard, the majority of K-12 students might be considered chronically absent this school year.

There are two explanations for this. One is the students themselves. For justifiable reasons, kids without computers or Internet access at home are not able to participate fully in instruction delivered via technology.

But there’s another level to this that is out of the students’ control. In too many places, official district policies will lead to children missing so much instructional time that they would be considered chronically absent in any other year. …


Analysis by Richard Whitmire

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The newly launched KIPP National Alumni Network grew out of a huge gathering of KIPP alumni in Houston last year. (Colin Pieters, KIPP New Jersey alumni)

A first-of-its-kind alumni network for K-12 KIPP charter school graduates launches today, drawing on its unique national alumni base of 30,000 students that’s expected to grow to 80,000 by 2025.

The National KIPP Alumni Network offers both alum-to-alum support as well as outside professional guidance. The three external players in the network programs, financed by California-based Crankstart Foundation, are:

  • The Braven Career Booster Program, a two-week virtual career guidance bootcamp. The course will be free for KIPP alumni (classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020). …

By Kevin Mahnken

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National Bureau of Economic Research

This is the latest article in The 74’s ongoing ‘Big Picture’ series, bringing American education into sharper focus through new research and data. Go Deeper: See our full series.

As students seek to cope with the threat of learning losses wreaked by COVID-19 and months-long school closures, some families have already hit upon a solution of sorts: hiring professional tutors.

The idea — commonsensical for the well-off, but prohibitively expensive for most — has engendered a storm of controversy. If a small portion of comparatively advantaged students receive supplemental learning help while millions of families struggle to even access virtual learning a few days a week, already-significant learning gaps between rich and poor could expand further. …


By Beth Hawkins

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Middle-schoolers at Kilombo Academic and Cultural Institute. (Tashiya Umoja-Mkanga)

The story of how Brandice Hatcher’s life fell apart near the start of the pandemic is by now a familiar one. The single parent of two, she couldn’t supervise her 2-year-old, help her 10-year-old with distance learning and return to her in-person job as a customer service representative.

Hatcher was preparing to homeschool her daughter and trying to get approval to open an in-home child care center when it occurred to her that her lousy circumstances might be hiding an opportunity. …


By Asher Lehrer-Small

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Just over a year after a devastating report by Johns Hopkins University indicted Providence public schools for low academic standards and unsafe buildings, the district has launched a hybrid reopening model amid all the familiar worries of COVID-19 — ventilation, social distancing and testing.

The 24,000-student district’s woes may be more high profile than most thanks to the Hopkins report, but with students and teachers back in their classrooms since Sept. 14, Providence now walks the same thin line as many other small and medium-sized public school systems. …


By Linda Jacobson

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after being nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, is the product of a Catholic education who served as a trustee for a religious school participating in Indiana’s publicly funded school choice program.

The background of the conservative federal appeals judge could draw scrutiny at a time when the nation’s high court is increasingly easing longtime barriers to private and religious schools receiving public funds.

In her relatively short stint on the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Notre Dame law professor didn’t rule on many school matters. But her few opinions included a decision that sided with a Purdue University student accused of sexual assault in a Title IX case and, notably, voting with the majority against extending public school transportation services to a private school. Although the Supreme Court has no cases directly related to education in its upcoming term, its growing conservative majority is widely expected in the coming years to issue decisive rulings on such issues as raced-based admissions, gay and transgender students’ rights and the limits of school choice. …


By Asher Lehrer-Small

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Some of the 154 candidates who unseated state legislative incumbents this primary season (Photos from candidates’ websites)

Education has become a surprise hot-button issue in the 2020 presidential election thanks to the challenges of educating during a pandemic, but most laws dictating the day-to-day operations of our nation’s schools still come from state and local government. Now with primary elections officially over, and ballots (mostly) counted, at least 154 candidates — including 25 former educators — have unseated state legislative incumbents and are poised to win seats in November. An original analysis by The 74 explores who makes up this change-making cohort and how they stand on education.

Source: Data consolidated from New York Times, Ballotpedia, and author’s research of candidate websites.

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The 74

The 74 is a non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America.

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