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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Back to 'normal' isn't enough: The Covid generation is at risk

It's time to bring back bipartisan education reform writes Fordham's Michael Petrilli. He's promoting A Generation at Risk, a "call to action" issued by left-center-right coalition, the Building Bridges Initiative. In addition to helping current students make up lost learning, the reformers want to do better in the future.

"Golden Gate Bridge Sunset" by Mike Robles

The statement calls for creating a more flexible, student-centered K-12 system that would give parents more information, power and agency to "support, choose, and advocate for their children’s education." The new education system would "aim for a broader definition of student success and enable a broader set of providers — inside and outside of schools — to play a role in meeting our students’ needs."

There are many proposals, but I was intrigued by the call for "trustworthy advice about career and college options" and "high-quality pathways between high school, college, and career." Some states are doing this now, says the report. "Colorado, Washington, and Delaware are . . . creating internships, apprenticeships, and more 'career-connected' school and district instructional models."

"We are failing the Covid generation," concludes The State of the American Student 2023 by the Center on Reinventing Education, which is affiliated with Arizona State. Older students, who have less time to get back on track, are at very high risk of leaving school unprepared for job training, college or anything else.

Here some not-so-fun facts:

On the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), one-third of students in fourth and in eighth grade can't read at even the "basic" level.
"It will take the average eighth grader 7.4 months to catch up to pre-pandemic levels in reading and 9.1 months in math, according to NWEA.
57% of teenage girls felt persistently sad or hopeless, and 30% seriously considered suicide, according to the CDC’s 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary & Trends Report.

Only 2 percent of students are receiving the kind of intensive tutoring that makes a difference, say USC researchers.

Many young people are floundering, the report warns. "Most students are on their own to discover their interests and talents and to select a career pathway aligned to them. Few receive guidance on how to change careers and reenter training or postsecondary education programs when their interests and priorities shift. Not surprisingly, students and families are increasingly questioning the value of a high-tuition, four-year degree."

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