A generational upheaval

In the work I get to do, I meet people in organizations working with youth and children a lot. Over and over the deep concern in reaching children, educating children, etc., is the severe loss we have from COVID. There is a serious lag in development in an upcoming generation and we need to take in some ideas for serious reform in all areas.

Some stats:

Shrinking enrollments. In the first full academic year of the pandemic, K-12 public school enrollment fell by 1.1 million students, and fell by about an additional 130,000 students the following fall. New Stanford-led research finds that 26 percent of that decline was caused by students switching to home-schooling and 14 percent by students leaving for private schools. Another 34 percent of the decline is hard to track, but some students were probably going truant, doing unregistered home-schooling or simply opting out of kindergarten. (A declining school-age population explains the rest.) In the years ahead, enrollments, and the funding streams that go with them, will most likely decline further as birthrates fall.

Academic regression. Since the National Assessment of Educational Progress was first administered in the 1970s, scores have usually risen or held steady. But two decades’ worth of math and reading gains were more or less erased for 9-year-olds during the pandemic. Declining academic skills will have long-term consequences. Researchers calculated that the decline in math skills alone will lead to $900 billion in lower future earnings over the course of students’ lifetimes.

Read that again: $900 billion in lower future earnings for these students because of declining math skills ALONE.

Worsening discipline problems. More than 80 percent of public schools say the pandemic has led to worse student behavior and lower social and emotional development. In the fall of 2021, for example, Denver public schools saw a 21 percent increase in fighting compared with prepandemic levels.

There is a need for a deep dive on possible solutions… and parents aren’t getting any solid answers.

In his State of the Union address, Biden offered no ambitious plans to fix America’s ailing schools. The Republican Party can’t utter a complete sentence on the subject of school reform that doesn’t contain the initials C.R.T. What we’re seeing here is a complete absence of leadership — even in the midst of a crisis that will literally bend the arc of American history.

David Brooks’s claim: This should be the moment of REINVENTION.

Our problem is we’re still jammed up in culture wars because all that matters is power, money, and winning elections. Our children are on the line and we want to argue about gender neutral bathrooms.

Brooks goes on to offer up some ideas that are being talked about… and our problem is we can look at each one and begin filling it with buckshot from our worn-out cultural shotguns. More HERE.

Our American way has become one where we don’t solve problems but we criticize and ridicule others with ideas so we can win our culture war… and elections… and stay in power and watch the money roll in.

Ideas and solutions are not wholesale. We need creative solutions for particular places. Most of all, we need to get to work for the sake of a generation in need of US BEING ADULTS!

At least twice in a week I heard from organizations giving me the same hard fact: The reading level success of kids in third grade is tied directly to the prison population as adults in the next 20 years.

Third grade.

The clock is ticking. We have work to do.

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