The 11 Best Education Articles from January: Teaching the Insurrection, How the Pandemic Is Forcing Kids to Juggle Class & Jobs, Schools Face Financial ‘Triple Squeeze’ & More
Each month, we compile a selection of our most popular and widely shared articles from the previous four weeks. (For a deeper look, check out our top highlights from December, November, and beyond here).
As America entered a new year and a new presidential administration, the streets of New York’s Times Square were eerily empty when the ball dropped on 2021. The ongoing pandemic had forced the majority of America’s classrooms to close, presenting numerous challenges for students and educators alike. In January, our coverage at focused on the early actions taken by the Biden administration to fulfill its promise of reopening schools within 100 days. We also explored the difficulties faced by many students in supporting their parents through the economic hardships of today, while also navigating remote learning. Additionally, we delved into the aftermath of the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. From discussions on civics education to the impact of COVID-related learning loss, here are the articles that garnered the most attention in January. (Don’t forget to sign up for Newsletter to receive alerts about our latest news coverage, exclusives, and analysis!)
Biden Dissolves Trump’s 1776 Commission on U.S. History on His First Day in Office
Education Policy: Within hours of assuming office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to dissolve the 1776 Commission, which had been established by former President Donald Trump. The commission, composed of individuals with no expertise in American history or K-12 education, was created to promote a particular brand of patriotic education. However, the release of its report on Martin Luther King Day sparked widespread criticism from the academic community. The report was accused of attacking identity politics and progressive reform movements, and substantial portions of the text were found to have been plagiarized from previous works. Professor Sam Wineburg from Stanford University noted that the commission’s work is divisive and lacks serious historical study. In an email to , he stated that the report "chooses one side in a historical debate and demonizes the other." (Read the full article)
—Related: Analysis — The 1776 Report Is a Political Document, Not a Curriculum. But It Has Something to Teach Us
Teens Juggle Zoom Classes and Fast-Food Jobs to Support Struggling Families
Remote Learning: To assist their families during these challenging times, teenagers have found themselves multitasking by attending Zoom classes while working in fast-food restaurants, often squeezing in homework during their breaks. For many of them, their motivation to contribute financially stems from a desire to help their families pay rent or meet other essential needs. One student in Los Angeles became the primary earner for her family when both of her parents contracted COVID-19 and had to quarantine. While some teenagers strive to fulfill their additional responsibilities without falling behind academically, others find it increasingly difficult to stay motivated in remote classes. School counselors face the delicate balance of being firm with students while also showing empathy for their families’ struggles. As one counselor aptly put it, "I respect the hustle." (Read the full article)
(@Larryferlazzo / Twitter and Getty Images)
Educators Reflect on the U.S. Capitol Insurrection and Help Students Find Meaning in the Chaos
Civic Education: Following the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, teachers across the country faced the daunting task of discussing the events with their students. Educators employed various approaches, drawing historical parallels to moments of white aggression in America’s past or examining the limitations of the First Amendment. Students in different parts of the country engaged in discussions comparing the police response to the insurrection with previous instances of law enforcement’s actions during the Black Lives Matter protests. Washington Teachers Union President Liz Davis emphasized the importance of incorporating lessons and conversations that contextualize the current events. "It didn’t happen in isolation," she asserted. interviewed 15 educators to gain insights into how they were helping their students make sense of the chaos. Here are their perspectives.
Addressing Medical Accommodations: With the ongoing debate surrounding school reopening and the anticipation of a vaccine, districts across the country have implemented varying responses when it comes to accommodating at-risk teachers. While some districts have taken comprehensive measures to protect vulnerable educators, others have shown inconsistency and disparity in their approach. This article highlights the importance of establishing a standardized framework to ensure the safety and well-being of at-risk teachers, while also providing guidance for districts to navigate these challenges effectively. (Read the full article)
The author and his family (Roberto Falck Photography)
A Student’s Perspective: Transitioning from one of New York City’s most prestigious high schools to homeschooling within a single academic term
First Person: Oftentimes, it is a parent’s dissatisfaction with the quality of education that prompts them to remove their child from traditional schooling and opt for homeschooling instead. However, what happens when it is the student themselves who initiates this change? In late October, contributor Gregory Wickham decided to homeschool himself instead of continuing his education at New York City’s renowned Stuyvesant High School. Wickham had various reasons for making this choice, including the desire for a more flexible and personalized education. In this article, he discusses his reasoning behind the decision and the advantages of the homeschooling system that enabled his success. Additionally, he provides insights into how he approaches homeschooling, with the hope that others who wish to do the same can find it easier to navigate. (Read the full essay)
Students from Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary in Manhattan (Leila Sutton/Partnership Schools)
A Ray of Hope Amidst the Pandemic for Struggling Catholic Schools, but Concerns for the Future Remain
School Choice: In the spring, after her 6-year-old son’s charter school in New York City closed its doors due to the pandemic, Sashaly Gomez found herself sitting with him throughout each school day, ensuring he stayed focused on his studies. However, when Gomez’s employer reopened, she knew their learning arrangement would have to change. Gomez stated, "Either I had to reduce my work hours or we had to find an alternative. Remote learning was not an option for us." Eventually, they discovered Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary school in Manhattan, where Landon, now a first-grader, has flourished. Many families have made similar moves, bringing back vitality to Catholic schools that have experienced declining enrollment for decades. However, with reduced church revenues and families facing financial hardships, experts express concerns about the long-term outlook for parochial schools, suggesting that the worst may still be ahead. Asher Lehrer-Small delves into this story. (Read the full article)
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