Tag Archives: Educational change

Looking ahead in 2023: Scanning the predictions for education

This week, Thomas Hatch pulls together IEN’s annual collection of articles that look into the future of schools and education. Last week’s post featured articles reviewing key stories and developments from 2022 and you can also revisit posts looking back on previous years (2021, 2020, 2019 part 1, 2019 part 2) and looking to the future (2022, 2021 part 1, 2021 part 2, 2020).

2023 already seems to be shaping up to be the year of CHAT-GPT and AI in education so it is perhaps not a surprise that many forward-looking articles focus on educational technology, but some efforts are also attempting to anticipate the future for business, financing and philanthropy in education. Readers can also explore a few articles that anticipate key issues that will be on the agenda in a specific region (Ireland, California, Ohio), and you can even look to see whether the National Center for Education Statistics predictions for 2023 (made in 2016) have come true. Although the predictions in the articles overall suggest some reasons to be hopeful, the challenging economic conditions and a looming financial cliff in the US stemming from the influx of funding to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic indicate some significant problems ahead. For other perspectives on the future, on January 25th, Getting Smart will be holding its annual “What’s Next in Learning?” town hall to explore innovations “driving the most equitable and scalable changes in education.”

With ChatGPT, Education May Never Be the Same, AEI

The Future of the High School Essay: We Talk to 4 Teachers, 2 Experts and 1 AI Chatbot, The 74

Imagining What Comes Next:  Schools Must Embrace the Looming Disruption of ChatGPT, The 74

How AI will change Education, Transcend Newsletter

4 K–12 Tech Trends to Follow in 2023, EdTech

“The biggest trends have an eye on physical security, virtual reality and a clear transition away from the front of the classroom as the focus.” 

37 predictions about edtech’s impact in 2023, eSchool News

Discover the Top Hurdles, Accelerators and Tech Enablers Driving K-12 Innovation in 2023, COSN

The three most important hurdles for education in 2023 will be attracting and retaining educators and IT professionals, designing effective digital ecosystems and digital equity.”

2023 State of Edtech Fundraising, Transcend Newsletter

6 Essential Predictions for the Education Market in 2023, EdWeek Market Brief

The public finance outlook for 2023: Prepare to slog, Governing

Disinflation and economic deceleration will dominate state and local budgets and investments. Cash is king, at least for a while. Payroll costs will outrace revenues. It’s going to be a year for muddling through.

Educators, buckle up: A bumpy economic ride lies ahead, District Administrator

We’re actually calling 2024-25 ‘the bloodletting’… Public education has not seen this sort of right-sizing, fiscal cliff, whatever you want to call it, of this magnitude at any time, including the last recession”—Marguerite Roza quoted in District Administrator

Philanthropy Trend Watch: A Few Ways the Sector Is Changing for the Better — and the Worse, Inside Philanthropy

Steal These Resolutions: 7 Experts Share How Schools Can Tackle Climate Change in 2023, Education Week

What’s next? Our predictions on the issues to dominate education in 2023, The Irish Times

California education issues to watch in 2023 — and predictions of what might happen, EdSource

Five predictions for Ohio education in 2023, Fordham Institute

Projections of Education Statistics to 2023, NCES

Happy New Year from IEN!

IEN will be taking a break over New Year’s returning with our first stories of the year on January 9th. In the meantime, please revisit some of our most viewed stories of the year and have a restful, peaceful, and healthy New Year!

What’s changing in classrooms and schools right now? Micro-innovations for teaching, learning and education (Part 1)

What’s changing in classrooms and schools right now? (Part 2) Micro-innovations supported by private and public sources

Scanning the headlines for results from OECD’s Education at a Glance: October 2022 Edition

Promoting equity through language access: A virtual visit to Liceo San Nicolas (Chile) and Easton Academy (UK)

Building equal learning opportunities for differently-abled children in Malawi: An interview with Patience Mkandawire on the evolution of Fount for Nations (Part 1)

From a “wide portfolio” to systemic support for foundational learning: The evolution of the Central Square Foundation’s work on education in India (Part 1)

What’s changing in classrooms and schools right now? (Part 2) Micro-innovations supported by private and public sources

In the second post of a two-part series, Dulce Rivera Osorio explores what’s changing in schools by scanning news articles that report on educational “micro-innovations” developing by in the US and internationally by non-profit organizations, private companies, and states and education systems. In Part 1, Thomas Hatch introduced micro-innovations and then Rivera shared a number of examples of micro-innovations being made in instruction or school/district operations that have been described in media articles from the US. To learn more about  the numerous proposals to change schools and “reimagine education” post-COVID, read IEN’s previous post: Is anything changing in US schools post-pandemic? Possibilities for rethinking time, place and supports for well-being.

In addition to changes in structures, resources, and practices at the classroom and school/district level, news articles have discussed a variety of micro-innovations that have been introduced by nonprofits and private companies in the US. To give a sense of the variety of initiatives, companies like Highland Electric Fleets and Thomas Built Buses have worked with school districts to cover the upfront costs involved in shifting from conventional buses to electric buses (US schools can subscribe to an electric school bus fleet at prices that beat diesel).

Airbnb, working in partnership with the National Education Association, has developed an adaptation to their hosting approach that provides extra income to teachers based in the US who share their homes through Airbnb (NEA, Airbnb partnership aims to help teachers supplement income). Nonprofits like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs have provided before and after-school programs for some time, but during the school closures of the pandemic they helped provide child care, academic support and access to recreational and arts activities by implementing socially distanced “learning camps” in some parts of the country (New Players Fill Child-Care Gap as Schools Go Remote). The Boys and Girls Clubs have also been actively developing new programs to support career and workforce learning.  As the The Hechinger Report describes, clubs in Indiana, Washington State, and Montana have been working with Transfr, a technology start-up, to use virtual reality to develop “immersive” career and workforce training simulations for manufacturing, carpentry, public safety, hospitality and automotive industries (Future of learning with virtual reality).

State and national education systems have also been developing responses to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the school closures that rely on a variety of new structures and programs. Alaska is creating its own digital content delivery system to aid rural communities and areas with poor internet connectivity (From Alaska Schools Creating Digital Networks to Aid Remote Learning to a Homework Freeze in Texas to Limit Screen Time, 9 Ways States Are Aiding Schools Amid COVID-19). Texas is implementing a state-wide telemedicine program so that school children can access therapists in school (State telemedicine program allows Texas children to see therapists at schools).

New policies and changes in policies are also encouraging districts and schools to develop new resources and mechanisms to support teachers and schools. In California, lawmakers made innovative changes in zoning policies that allow school districts to build staff housing on any property the district owns without requiring zoning changes from city or county officials (California removes hurdles to building teacher housing). At the national level in the US, federal agencies like the EPA are providing funding for states to take advantage of new technologies and developments that can both save schools money and support the environment (EPA nearly doubles funding to districts for clean school bus rebates). The passage of a $430 trillion spending package designed to address the global climate crisis includes a host of provisions that provide creative ways schools and districts can save money and support the planet. As a new guide from the Aspen Institute and the World Resources Institute (K12 Education and Climate Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act) reports, districts can now get tax credits to support energy-reducing innovations in the form “direct pay” – cash payments to the district instead of through credits claimed by a third party that made the whole process problematic (Quick Hacks: How Schools Can Cut Costs and Help the Environment).

Outside the US, NGO’s, companies, and education systems are also looking for new ways to address issues as varied as a shortage of bus drivers, “remote learning,” and mother-tongue language instruction. In Australia and New Zealand, GoKid, a carpooling app, hopes to aid the shortage of school bus drivers by making carpooling more accessible and easier for parents (GoKid partners to address school transportation crisis). The app helps parents to find carpool partners in a school or school district by providing a rough location map of nearby families and suggesting optimized routes.

In India, as a recent Brookings report explains, the development of young mothers’ groups created new ways to support learning at home during school closures. With the support of the Pratham Education Foundation, groups of 4 – 6 mothers met weekly or fortnightly to share experiences and access “idea cards” sent via WhatsApp containing games, activities, and recipes. For children in grades three to six, youth volunteers led small groups of children in “mini learning camps” for one to two hours per day using simple instructional activities and materials made by the children. In Bangladesh, BRAC dealt with the school closures by creating “phone schools.” In these “schools,” locally-recruited and trained teachers conducted virtual classes in group calls with three to four children. BRAC reported that those calls reached over 180,000 students in more than 7,000 schools (The power of community as a catalyst to tackle disrupted learning).

With emerging evidence supporting the expansion of mother tongue instruction, South Africa has instituted policies to support mother tongue instruction in grades 1, 2, and 3, but now the Eastern Cape education department allows high school students who are taking the matric exams to answer using their home language (Policy options to crack the mother tongue versus English riddle in South African schools). That kind of development can encourage schools to offer mother-tongue instruction through grade 12.  As provincial education official Fundile Gade put it, “China, Singapore and Germany use their own languages. English is a secondary language, like other languages, so it can’t be given preference as if pupils can’t learn and develop outside of English (Matric pupils to write exams in isiXhosa and Sotho at Eastern Cape schools).

US schools can subscribe to an electric school bus fleet at prices that beat diesel, Canary Media

NEA, Airbnb partnership aims to help teachers supplement income, K-12 Dive

New Players Fill Child-Care Gap as Schools Go Remote, Education Week

Future of learning with virtual reality, Hechinger Report

From Alaska Schools Creating Digital Networks to Aid Remote Learning to a Homework Freeze in Texas to Limit Screen Time, 9 Ways States Are Aiding Schools Amid COVID-19, The 74

State telemedicine program allows Texas children to see therapists at schools, KUT 90.5

California removes hurdles to building teacher housing, EdSource

K12 Education and Climate Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, World Resources Institute

EPA nearly doubles funding to districts for clean school bus rebates, K-12 Dive

Quick Hacks: How Schools Can Cut Costs and Help the Environment, Education Week

GoKid partners to address school transportation crisis, Benzinga

The power of community as a catalyst to tackle disrupted learning, Brookings

Policy options to crack the mother tongue versus English riddle in South African schools, The Conversation

Matric pupils to write exams in isiXhosa and Sotho at Eastern Cape schools, Times Live

What’s changing in classrooms and schools right now? Micro-innovations for teaching, learning and education (Part 1)

In this two-part series, Dulce Rivera Osorio explores what’s changing in schools by scanning  news articles that report on “micro-innovations” that teachers, schools and educational organizations are making to improve their educational structures and practices. In Part 1, Thomas Hatch introduces micro-innovations and then Rivera shares a number of examples of micro-innovations being made in instruction or school/district operations that have been described in media articles from the US. Part 2 will describe the micro-innovations at the state level; those being made by companies and nonprofits; and some examples from outside the US. To read more on the numerous proposals to change schools and “reimagine education” post-COVID, read IEN’s previous post: Is anything changing in US schools post-pandemic? Possibilities for rethinking time, place and supports for well-being.

Schools are changing, but those changes are often more subtle and more context-specific than many ambitious reform efforts hope. These smaller changes can be considered micro-innovations: adaptations and inventions new to the contexts in which they are developed. Micro-innovations include those aimed to help specific groups of students learn key concepts for particular disciplines (like a card game and app from Singapore that helps high school students learn key terms for introductory chemistry); an “activity-based pedagogy” from Second Chance that helps out-of-school students in Ethiopia and Liberia catch up to their peers in elementary schools; and the development of a system of vans to provide safe transportation to support the all-female staff central to the success of the schools created by the Citizen’s Foundation in Pakistan. Rather than hoping for some “disruptive innovation” or general approach to educational reform that will magically sweep across schools and education systems, a focus on micro-innovations highlights specific, concrete improvements that can be made right now to develop an infrastructure for more equitable and more powerful learning (for more examples, see “What can change in schools after the pandemic?”.

“Rather than hoping for some “disruptive innovation” or general approach to educational reform that will magically sweep across schools and education systems, a focus on micro-innovations highlights specific, concrete improvements that can be made right now to develop an infrastructure for more equitable and more powerful learning”

What counts as a micro-innovation? Micro-innovations include concrete and visible changes in the structures, practices, and resources of schools and other educational organizations that have the potential to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and equity of educational opportunities in particular contexts. As they are designed to respond to the constraints and opportunities in specific situations and settings, they should not be expected to be replicated across all contexts. However, they may be adapted in some related contexts, and they can help educators envision what might work in their own settings to address critical problems they may be facing.

– Thomas Hatch

Educational micro-innovations in the news

Along with the cascade of news about “learning loss” and the challenges of education today, over the past year, news and research in the US have also described a variety of examples of micro-innovations that have been developed at the classroom, school and district levels in the US. At the classroom level, articles have highlighted how teachers set a positive tone for the day by developing innovative ways of greeting students at their classroom doors (Positive Greetings at the Door: Evaluation of a Low-Cost, High-Yield Proactive Classroom Management Strategy) and how teachers craft questions to help students develop their vocabulary, particularly of scientific terms and concepts (How to Support Vocabulary Building in Science Classes). Research has also pointed to specific ways teachers can design and organize their classrooms including ways that even “symbolic features” of classrooms such as wall décor can influence student learning and sense of belonging in the classroom, “with far-reaching consequences for students’ educational choices and achievement” (Designing Classrooms to Maximize Student Achievement).

Schools are also showing their inventiveness in tackling the challenges that their students and families are facing. In Massachusetts, staff members in one school created ways to support the transition from hospital to classroom for students struggling with mental health (School mental health program eases transition from hospital to classroom). In California, staff members at a school took on a critical need for housing in their community by creating a homeless shelter to support some of their students and their families (A school created a homeless shelter in the gym and it paid off in the classroom). According to Maribel Chávez, a first grade teacher at the school, quoted in the Hechinger Report, “If the child is not stable, that’s a barrier to their education, so that’s why we felt like as an educational institution, we had a mandate.”

Educators are also implementing a variety of micro-innovations at the district level to tackle challenges encompassing issues like bussing, translation between teachers and non-English speaking parents, and mental health. For example, districts in Boston, Indiana, and Maine are finding ways to use electric buses and scanning technologies to save costs, support the environment and increase safety (Boston to replace school buses with electric ones by 2030; Vans, Transit Passes & Changes to State Law: How Bus Driver Shortages & Soaring Costs Spurred Innovations in Getting Indianapolis Students to Class, Central Maine school districts turning to emerging bus scanning technology to address safety, driver shortages).

The Oakland school district invested about $40,000 to use the TalkingPoints translation app to communicate with parents who do not speak English (Translating a quarter of a million text messages for families). As a district English language coordinator described it, “Teachers love it and the families absolutely love it. They tell me it’s made a huge difference. Before, they felt hopeless at times because they couldn’t communicate with teachers or administration.”

Translating a quarter of a million text messages for families, The Hechinger Report

Four districts in Iowa are also testing a new tele health platform, Classroom Clinic, developed by a psychiatric nurse practitioner, with a focus on providing services to rural areas of the state (Iowa nurse creates virtual mental health service with focus on rural schools).

Micro-innovations at the classroom level

Positive Greetings at the Door: Evaluation of a Low-Cost, High-Yield Proactive Classroom Management Strategy, Sage Journals

How to Support Vocabulary Building in Science Classes, Edutopia

Designing Classrooms to Maximize Student Achievement, Sage Journals 

SXSW EDU Launch Winner Our Worlds Bringing Native American Culture to Life Through Mobile-Based Immersive Reality, The 74

Micro-innovations at the School Level 

A school created a homeless shelter in the gym and it paid off in the classroom, The Hechinger Report 

School mental health program eases transition from hospital to classroom, New England Public Media

Trying to give students in low-wage majors some extra skills they can cash in on, The Hechinger Report

What COVID-Era Learning Looks Like in 144 Innovative Schools Around the Country, The 74

How One School Is Using House Calls to Keep Kids Learning During the Pandemic, The 74

For these six schools, pandemic-era innovation demanded “know thyself, CRPE

Rural Schools Have Battled Bad Internet, Low Attendance and Academic Decline Through the Pandemic. Now the Push Is On to Return Students to Classrooms — Safely, The 74

Micro-innovations at the District Level 

Translating a quarter of a million text messages for families, The Hechinger Report 

Boston to replace school buses with electric ones by 2030, AP News

Central Maine school districts turning to emerging bus scanning technology to address safety, driver shortages, Portland Press Herald

Vans, Transit Passes & Changes to State Law: How Bus Driver Shortages & Soaring Costs Spurred Innovations in Getting Indianapolis Students to Class, The 74

Study of 6 ‘Grow Your Own’ Teacher Prep Programs Shows How They Can Improve the Diversity of the Workforce, The 74

Using tech and circuit riding to beat the pandemic, New Mexico in Depth

How a Diverse School District Is Using a Strategy Usually Reserved for ‘Gifted’ Students to Help Everyone Overcome COVID Learning Loss, The 74

California schools press ‘play’ on esports leagues during pandemic, EdSource

3 summer program strategies to address learning loss, support emotional health, K-12 Dive

Iowa nurse creates virtual mental health service with focus on rural schools, Iowa City Press-Citizen

‘More than a warm body’: Schools try long-term solutions to substitute teacher shortage, The Hechinger Report

– Dulce Rivera Osorio

Education Innovations Around the World: The HundrED Global Collection for 2023

This week’s post shares highlights from the HundrED Global Collection for 2023.  This year’s collection includes innovations that emphasize teacher professional development, the development of skills for the 21st century, student mental health and wellbeing, as well as student agency and educational equity. The report was announced at the HundrED Innovation Summit 2022 where guest speakers also highlighted resilience, the role of creativity in educational futures, and innovations to bridge gaps through education.

What kinds of educational innovations are taking off? Where can they be found? These are two of the questions that HundrED seeks to answer with their yearly collection of education innovations from all around the world. Since 2016, HundrED has been curating the annual collection in order to increase the recognition and visibility of educators working to spread child-centered, personalized, and passion-based educational initiatives that complement traditional forms of schooling. This year’s innovations address a variety of different goals to support teacher professional development and skills acquisition, recognizing the role of teachers in creating classroom environments, introducing new technology, and adapting methodological approaches; developing “soft skills” in social emotional learning, entrepreneurship, and global citizenship education to address the gap between traditional schooling and the demands of a rapidly changing world; fostering student agency while addressing mental health and wellbeing in a post-pandemic education landscape; and addressing equity in education, with a focus on gender, special needs, Indigenous education, and education for marginalized communities. 

HundrED Global Education Report: 2023

The innovations came from 54 countries around the world; 67.5% were from the Global South, while 34.3% were from the Global North.

HundrED’s team of 188 leaders, educators, academics, and funders evaluated 3,488 programs for their final selection. Programs that were highlighted in this year’s report were selected on the basis of scalability, impact, ability to create systems change, and measurability. The 100 innovations included Tec.la, acSELerate, Cybersmart Africa, Girl Rising, In their shoes, Masahati Children’s Club, opEPA, and Kidogo.

Tec.la, Argentina 

Tec.la trains teachers from diverse backgrounds and locations in Latin America to empower students with digital skills to meet the demands and opportunities of the 21st century. Since its founding in 2018, Tec.la has spread to 5 countries and reached over 2000 trainers through more than 100 workshops.

acSELerate, India

AcSELerate was founded in 2016 to create lasting change in social and emotional learning (SEL) processes to supplement traditional education practices. AcSELerate approaches SEL holistically by engaging parents, teachers, and students in its programs to improve school and home environments. The organization currently serves over 175,000 students, teachers, and parents within India.

CyberSmart Africa, Senegal

CyberSmart Africa creates innovative ways of engaging students who attend school without electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa. It works to ensure content and instruction are up to date by supporting learners online and developing the professional networks of teachers. Established in 2008, the platform has over 1.25 million users throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

Girl Rising, United States

Girl Rising creates videos to expose the barriers that girls face around the world due to poverty, gender violence, child marriage, and trafficking. The organization aims to illuminate what can happen when these barriers are dismantled and young people realize their capacities to create change. Founded in 2013, Girl Rising reaches 500,000 children in 144 countries across the world.

In Their Shoes, Spain

Since its founding in 2017, In Their Shoes had worked to prevent violence and instill emotional literacy in students through theater programs. These programs aim to make students aware of their own emotions and the emotions of others as well with the hope of promoting coexistence and ending bullying. In Their Shoes currently operates in Spain and Morocco, reaching 20,000 students. 

Masahati Children’s Club, Jordan

Masahati Student Club is an after-school program that aims to foster well being in humanitarian contexts and build cohesive societies through education. The programs use sports, arts, and civils to foster inclusive and protective practices that support community development and quality education. Established in 2016, Masahati Children’s Club reaches 23,300 students in Jordan.

OpEPA, Columbia

OpEPA uses a nature-based approach to activate holistic learning in students. The programs combine academic, social, emotional, and experiential learning through an approach that allows students to see the interconnected nature of their relationship to the earth. OpEPA has reached over 130,000 users since its founding in 2018. It operates in Colombia, the United States, and Chile. 

Kidogo, Kenya

Kidogo supports female entrepreneurs in Africa’s low-income communities to create innovative approaches to affordable early childhood education programs. Through Kidogo’s support, women are able to create micro-businesses to solve problems that directly impact early childhood education their communities. Established in 2015, Kidogo reaches 15,000 users in Kenya. 

The Role of Research, Advocacy, and the Law in Educational Equity: A conversation with Preston Green

In this month’s Lead the Change interview Preston Green highlights issues, challenges and opportunities for scholars to use legal theories and tools to pursue educational equity. Green is the John and Maria Neag Professor of Urban Education at the University of Connecticut, where he is also a professor of educational leadership and law. The LtC series is produced by Alex Lamb and colleagues from the Educational Change Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. A pdf of the fully formatted interview is available on the LtC website

Lead the Change: The 2023 AERA theme is “Interrogating Consequential Education Research in Pursuit of Truth” and charges researchers and practitioners with creating and using education research to disrupt institutionalized forms of discrimination. The call urges scholars to challenge traditional methods of inquiry in order to create increasingly useful, responsive, and equity-oriented research that can be used by schools to develop informed policies and practices to better support students. Where does research focused on the legal principles and ramifications of particular policies fit in with the call? With educational change more broadly?

Preston Green: Scholars, through their research and advocacy, can help bring about the passage of laws that cause schools to adopt equitable policies and practices. School desegregation is an example. Indeed, the most famous instance of the power of research is the expert social science testimony co-authored by Dr. Kenneth Clark, which the Supreme Court cited in Brown v. Board of Education (Legal Defense Fund, 2022). To this day, scholars are conducting research that identifies the benefits of school desegregation and the policies that bring about desegregation, even though the judiciary is less supportive. 

“Scholars, through their research and advocacy, can help bring about the passage of laws that cause schools to adopt equitable policies and practices.”

Additionally, educational research can encourage the passage of laws that cause schools to cease classroom practices that disproportionately harm minority groups. For example, scholars have documented the disparate suspension and expulsion rates experienced by Black students and students with disabilities. They have urged policymakers to use the legal tools at their disposal to guard against the educational practices that create these disparities. This effort helped lead to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issuing a Dear Colleague Letter in 2014 that provided guidance for implementing disciplinary policies that do not unduly impact Black students. Although the Trump administration subsequently rescinded this guidance, the Biden administration is considering its reinstatement (Belsha, 2022). The Biden administration also issued federal guidance advising school districts to protect the civil rights of students with disabilities (Belsha, 2022). Researchers can continue to provide support for the adoption of policies and laws at both the federal and state levels that cause schools to develop disciplinary practices that do not unduly impact Black students.

Similarly, scholars can conduct research and develop legal theories that will protect LGBTQ+ students from discriminatory treatment and harassment. Due in part to their research and advocacy, the OCR issued a notice of interpretation declaring that Title IX, the federal statute that forbids sex discrimination by schools, encompasses “discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity” (U.S. Department of Education, 2021). However, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Carson v. Makin (2022), which held that Maine could not prohibit parents from using tuition assistance funds for education at parochial schools, is very concerning for LGBTQ+ students, parents, and teachers. Scholars can continue to play a role in this ongoing fight against discrimination.

With respect to educational change more broadly, research based on legal principles can help policymakers adopt laws that protect students and communities. Educational privatization is illustrative. Supporters of privatization have asserted that educational reforms, such as school vouchers and charter schools, will help minority communities obtain educational outcomes that have proven elusive in the traditional public-school setting. However, in exchange for these educational benefits—which are not guaranteed—students and communities may forfeit constitutional rights and community resources (Green & Connery, 2022). This example shows that scholars must be sure to study the possible legal tradeoffs posed by any broad proposal for educational change.

LtC: Recently, there have been a rash of Supreme Court decisions that have fundamentally reshaped American society and schools including, but not limited to, women’s rights to bodily autonomy, guns, the use of public funds for religious schooling, and shifting rules regarding prayer in schools. Your work examines how law shapes education broadly and specifically. How might educational change scholars understand the impact of some of these rulings on the U.S. education system?

PG: Educational scholars should understand that the recent outbreak of Supreme Court decisions signals the Court’s willingness to reject decades of legal precedent. Legal precedent refers to the concept that court decisions serve as legal authority for deciding future cases with similar facts and issues (Legal Information Institute, 2020). Individuals and institutions come to rely on the protections and rights created by these decisions. Because of this reliance on precedent, many supporters of abortion were shocked by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision (2022), which overturned Roe v. Wade (1973). Justice Clarence’s Thomas’s concurrence, which declared that protections for birth control, same-sex intimacy, and same-sex marriage were also in danger, was even more stunning.

Similarly, the Court’s religion decisions this past term indicate that long-standing legal precedents in education are no longer safe. In Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (2022), the Court ruled that a school district violated the Free Exercise Clause by disciplining a public-school coach for praying after games in view of his players. Lupu and Tuttle (2022) explain that the Court’s decision ignored sixty years of precedent under the Establishment Clause, which gave schools the authority to police the “communication between a coach or teacher and those under their charge.” Instead, the Court implemented a rule requiring the Establishment Clause to be interpreted based on the historical understanding of the Founding Fathers. One can infer from this language that the Court might soon permit teachers to lead students in prayer (Lupu & Tuttle, 2022).

In addition to the concerns about LGBTQ+ discrimination discussed above, Carson v. Makin (2022) has major implications for charter schools. Charter schools are often defined as public schools that must operate in a secular manner. However, charter schools have many private characteristics, which could cause the Supreme Court to categorize them as a private school option. If the Court ruled this way, then states would have to provide funding for religious charter schools. Indeed, Justice Breyer raised this possibility in his dissenting opinion in the Carson case. States that disagree with this situation might respond either by capping the number of charter schools or dismantling this choice option altogether. 

LtC: How can those educational scholars and practitioners who wish to take civic action against discriminatory legal precedent engage in such efforts effectively? 

PG: Because of the solid conservative majority in the Supreme Court, it will be difficult for scholars and practitioners to challenge discriminatory practices in the federal courts. Therefore, they should also look to state law for protections. School finance litigation provides an example of this approach. After the Supreme Court ruled in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez in 1973 that the Equal Protection Clause permits school funding disparities created by local property taxation, plaintiffs then challenged school finance formulas through state courts. School finance scholars, educational historians, and legal theorists have provided the research that have helped attorneys push for increased resources for disadvantaged communities.

A school desegregation case, Sheff v. O’Neill (1996) also demonstrates how educational researchers can help litigators challenge discriminatory practices in state courts. After the Supreme Court ruled that de facto segregation – racial separation that is not caused by intentional governmental policies – did not violate the Constitution, the federal courts became a much less effective venue for combatting school segregation. Lead attorney John Brittain and his colleagues responded to this obstacle by convincing the Connecticut Supreme Court that de facto segregation violated the state constitution. Brittain supported this claim using expert testimony from educational scholars who showed the negative impact that school segregation had on Hartford’s urban schools.

LtC: What issues of law, education, policy, and change do you see as ripe for research in the coming months and years?

PG: One topic that is ripe for research is the relationship between race and school funding. Despite decades of school desegregation and school finance litigation, a report by the non-profit group EdBuild found that school districts serving predominantly nonwhite students received $23 billion less than white districts during the 2015–16 school year. According to the report, the average nonwhite district received $2,226 less than a white school district per student. Racial disparities remained even after controlling for wealth: Poor-white school districts still received around $1,500 more per student than their poor-nonwhite counterparts (cited by Green, Baker, and Oluwole 2021).

“Scholars and practitioners should also look to state laws for protections.”

Scholars have begun to explore the reasons for these disparities. Culprits include an array of local, state, and federal housing discrimination policies and practices over the course of more than a century (Baker, DiCarlo, & Green, 2022; Lukes & Cleveland, 2021). I sincerely hope that scholars help litigators develop legal strategies and policy solutions to tackle these disparities in the courts and through legislation.

References
Baker, B., DiCarlo, M., & Green, P. (2022). Segregation and school funding: How housing
discrimination reproduces unequal opportunity. Retrieved August 8, 2022 from https://www.shankerinstitute.org/segfunding

Belsha, K. (2022, July 19). Feds urge schools to reexamine discipline of students with disabilities, calling it ‘an urgent need.’ Retrieved September 1, 2022 from https://www.chalkbeat.org/2022/7/19/23270102/school-discipline-guidance-students-with-disabilities.

Carson v. Makin, 142 U.S. 1987 (2022).

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, 142 U.S. 2228 (2022).

Green, P., Baker, B., & Oluwole, J. (2021). School finance, race, and reparations. Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, 27, 484-558.

Green, P., & Connery, C. (2022). Beware of educational blackmail: How can we apply lessons from environmental justice to urban charter school growth? South Carolina Law Review, 73, 643-74.

Kennedy v. Bremerton Sch. Dist., 142 S.Ct. 2407 (2022).

Legal Defense Fund. (2022). A revealing experiment: Brown v. Board and the “Doll Test.” Retrieved September 1, 2022 from https://www.naacpldf.org/brown-vs-board/significance-doll-test/.

Lukes, D., and Cleveland, C. (l2021). The lingering legacy of redlining on school funding, diversity, and performance (Annenberg Institute EdWorkingPaper: 21-363).

Lupu, I. & Tuttle, R. (2022, July 26). Response, Kennedy v. Bremerton School District – A Sledgehammer to the bedrock of nonestablishment. George Washington Law Review On the Docket, https://gwlr.org/kennedy-v-bremerton-school-district-a-sledgehammer-to-the-bedrock-of-nonestablishment/.

Legal Information Institute. (2020). Precedent. Retrieved August 29, 2022 from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/precedent.

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).

San Antonio Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973).

Sheff v. O’Neill, 678 A.2d 1267 (Conn. 1996).

U.S. Department of Education. (2021, June 16). U.S. Department of Education confirms Title IX
protects students from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Retrieved September 1, 2022 from https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-confirms-title-ix-protects-students-discrimination-based-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity.

Going back to school in 2022 (Part 3): Scanning the headlines from around the world

In recognition of the UN-sponsored Transforming Education Summit, Part 3 of our roundup of back-to-school headlines draws together links to the stories we’re seeing in some of the major sources of education news outside the US. Part 1 revealed some of the back-school issues highlighted in US (Hope and trepidation:  Scanning the back-to-school headlines in the US) and Part 2 looked specifically at the impact on schools of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic 2 (“Over it” but enable to escape it: Going back to school with COVID in 2022). A future post will survey some of the many stories we are seeing about the discussions, questions and challenges of the “teacher shortage.”  For back-to school headlines from fall 2021 see Going Back to School Has Never Been Quite Like This (Part 1): Pandemic Effects in the US; Going Back to School Has Never Been Quite Like This (Part 2): Quarantines, Shortages, Wildfires & Hurricanes; For fall 2020 see What does it look like to go back to school? It’s different all around the world…; for 2019 see Headlines Around the World: Back to School 2019 Edition.

A return to school after the COVID closures and hopes for a “bounce back” characterize some of the back-to-school headlines; but in Ukraine and some parts of the developing world, many of the headlines focus on critical challenges including violence, war, floods and famine that are continuing to keep some students, particularly girls, out of school.

“[F]or many students here and around the world, especially girls, there is no excitement around supply shopping or reuniting with their friends again — because none of that will happen at all. Between schools staying closed over fears of a new COVID-19 wave and other barriers to getting an education, back-to-school doesn’t look quite as bright.” – Back to school? Think again, Plan International

Afghanistan

For most teenage girls in Afghanistan, it’s been a year since they set foot in a classroom, AP

Bangladesh

Frequent blackouts, school and office hours cut: Is Bangladesh going way of Sri Lanka?, Firstpost

Seven classes a day during new school year in Bangladeshi high schools, bdnews24

“The government says it has changed the routines so that the students do not fall behind in lessons due to the two-day weekends”, bdnews24

France

French schools are back today: what changes for the year ahead?, The Connexion

Kenya 

Kenya postpones schools reopening a second time over vote tallying, The East African

India 

Parents in India choosing homeschooling for the new school year, The Indian Express

Italy

Italy reopens schools without masks, Wanted in Rome

Norway

At the same time that the students are going back to school, a major strike is simmering, Norway Posts English

Pakistan

Over 2 million students could give up education due to floods in Sindh, Pakistan, Pro Pakistani

No back-to-school for thousands of children as nearly 19,000 schools damaged, destroyed by floods in Pakistan, Save the Children

Philippines

Philippine kids back in school after 2 years lost to virus, AP News

Sri Lanka

Education Ministry in Sri Lanka announces change in conducting schools, Sri Lanka Internet Newspaper

Switzerland

Swiss apprenticeships bounce back after Covid-19 pandemic, Swissinfo

“Every August a new cohort of students begin their apprenticeships across Switzerland. The appetite for vocational training remains strong despite the impact of Covid-19, with experts pointing to a return to pre-pandemic levels.”

Thailand

Thai schools, unis fully reopen after 5 months of lockdown, The Nation Thailand

Uganda

Teenagers in Uganda offer insight into their return to school after enduring the world’s longest COVID school closure, NPR

Ukraine

The race is on across Ukraine to build new bunkers. Not for soldiers on the front lines, but students in schools, CNN

“The new school year is a day of celebration in Ukraine, where children dress up and give bouquets of flowers to their teachers. But Russia’s invasion has cast a shadow on the happy day. Now educational facilities across the country are racing to build bunkers and bomb shelters for returning students,” CNN

Pencil, chalk and first-aid kits: Ukrainian children return to school in the midst of war, New York Times

Traumatized and displaced but determined, kids in Ukraine head back to school, NPR

Ukrainian Refugees Head Back To School In Poland, Forbes

‘We are in this together’: the Ukrainians starting a new German school year, The Guardian

 “Ukrainian teachers vital for providing ‘welcome classes’ to 150,000 children who fled to Germany after Russian invasion”, The Guardian

Back to school for Ukranian Refugees, Expats means Fresh Start with Old Fears, The74

Yemen

Children in war-torn Yemen skip class to survive ‘misery’, France 24

Venezuela

““Right now, I don’t even have a pencil for my children to start classes in September,” said Florena Delgado, who teaches first and fifth grades at two schools in one of the lowest-income neighborhoods of the capital, Caracas”- NBC News

 Teachers in Venezuela march, threaten to strike over low pay, few resources, NBC News

“Over it” but unable to escape it: Going back to school with COVID in 2022

Part 2 of this year’s back-to-school scan pulls together some of the headlines that highlight issues related to the continuing impact of the  COVID-19. Part 1 revealed some of the issues, fears, and (a few) hopes expressed in some of the major sources of US education news over the past few weeks and Part 3 will provide a roundup of the back-to-school headlines we are seeing from around the world. We will also follow-up with a post surveying some of the many discussions and debates about the realities and challenges of the “teacher shortage”  For back-to school headlines from fall 2021 see Going Back to School Has Never Been Quite Like This (Part 1): Pandemic Effects in the US; Going Back to School Has Never Been Quite Like This (Part 2): Quarantines, Shortages, Wildfires & Hurricanes; For fall 2020 see What does it look like to go back to school? It’s different all around the world…; for 2019 see Headlines Around the World: Back to School 2019 Edition.

“Over it” but also unable to escape it seems to capture the sentiment of many of the back-to-school stories that address the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schools. A series of articles from the74 in particular highlight that although many schools and educators are making decisions to end closures, remote options, and masking, there also appears to be a recognition that those decisions could lead to more surges requiring schools to respond again. Education Week also highlighted how, in the US, those decisions have been supported with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the White House to help schools deal with the “new abnormal.”

‘Over It’: Most Educators Say They Won’t Mask This Fall, Education Week

Many Remote Learning Options Shutting Down as School Reopens for Fall 2022, The74

“According to a new review by the Center on Reinventing Public Education, the “approaches of America’s 100 largest districts suggest that most are jettisoning remote learning entirely, or reverting back to programs that existed before the pandemic forced them to swiftly provide all families with some sort of online option.”

‘Treat This as You Would Any Illness’ — Schools Downgrading COVID Rules, The74

“As students return from summer vacation, school systems nationwide are scaling back COVID masking and quarantine requirements — in some cases, eliminating them altogether. Many are simply telling students to stay home if they have symptoms, much as they did before the pandemic.”

School Mask, Vaccine Mandates Are Mostly Gone. But What if the Virus Comes Back? , The74

Student Absences May Spike Due to Low Vaccination Rates, Weaker Immunity Education Week

Thousands without childhood vaccinations unable to return to school, EdSource

CDC’s Latest COVID Guidance for Schools Ends ‘Test-to-Stay,’ Quarantine Recommendations, Education Week

“The White House followed the CDC’s lead, de-emphasizing the importance of masking and quarantining and instead focusing on vaccinations, testing, and air quality as major prevention strategies.”Education Week

White House Outlines Key COVID-Prevention Strategies for This School Year, Education Week

FACT SHEET: BACK TO SCHOOL 2022: Giving Every School the Tools to Prevent COVID-⁠19 Spread and Stay Safely Open All Year Long, The White House

Back to School: 10 Steps Schools and Districts Can Take to Address New and Ongoing COVID-19 Challenges, Learning Policy Institute

“My biggest concern is that we’ve seen a ton of viral infections just over the summer,” says Magna Dias, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatrician. “So, when we get back to indoor settings with kids being together again, it could mean that we will see more infections happening—both with COVID-19 and with other viral infections.”Yale Medicine

Respiratory Viruses, Colds, Fever, COVID: This Year’s Back-to-School Guide for Parents, Yale Medicine

Hope and trepidation:  Scanning the back-to-school headlines in the US

This year’s scan of the back-to-school headlines begins with a focus on the issues, fears, and (a few) hopes expressed in some of the major sources of US education news over the past few weeks. A future post will look specifically at how schools will be dealing with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic; one will provide a roundup of back-to-school headlines we are seeing from around the world; and one will survey the many discussions and debates about the realities and challenges of the “teacher shortage”  For back-to school headlines from fall 2021 see Going Back to School Has Never Been Quite Like This (Part 1): Pandemic Effects in the US; Going Back to School Has Never Been Quite Like This (Part 2): Quarantines, Shortages, Wildfires & Hurricanes; For fall 2020 see What does it look like to go back to school? It’s different all around the world…; for 2019 see Headlines Around the World: Back to School 2019 Edition.

“It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s going to be better,” Lydia McNeiley, a college and career coordinator from Hammond Indiana, summed up the sentiments reflected in many US back-to-school stories this year. Quoted in an Education Week story on “Student Wellness Issues for Schools to Watch This Year”, McNeiley captured the mixed feelings expressed in many of the headlines.

“It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s going to be better,” Lydia McNeiley quoted in Education Week

Despite occasional optimism, for the most part, the talk of “re-imagining” schools has been replaced with stories about the realities of dealing with concerns about missing students, money, socio-emotional development, health, safety, and, particularly with the recent release of the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, learning.

Reports of some positive changes and offerings of hopeful advice are also pprinkled among the headlines For his part, US Education Secretary Cardona noted the importance of addressing issues like how to provide more support for teachers, but he also looks forward to a “return to normal:” “I’m really thrilled that students are feeling that back-to-school excitement the way it was before. It’s not back to school with a caveat.” (U.S. Secretary Cardona: how to fix teachers shortages, create safer schools, EdWeek).

Back-to-school headlines from around the US:

Bracing for the worst, hoping for the best: A country holds its breath as children return to school, U.S. News

As a new year starts, schools prepare for fewer masks, more learning and joy, NPR

Hope, relief and lessons learned: Teachers anticipate a smoother school year , EdSource

COVID-19 ‘shocked’ education with steepest declines in half-century, K-12 Dive

The pandemic erased two decades of progress in reading and math scores, New York Times

Some Students Are Routinely Denied Challenging Work. The Pandemic Made That Worse, Education Week

Cities face crisis as fewer kids enroll and schools shrink, AP 

School is back in session in LA. Where are the students?, NPR

Public School Enrollment Continues to Stagnate, Education Week

49.5 million students were enrolled in public schools in fall 2021…well below the 50.8 million students who were in public pre-K-12 before the pandemic began. Where are the other 1.3 million kids?” – Education Week

Fearing ‘Fiscal Cliff,’ District Leaders Reluctant to Hire Full-Time Teachers, The74 

As pandemic aid runs out, America is set to return to a broken school funding system, Chalkbeat

Inflation weighs on back-to-school buying for many families, AP

Edtech Funding Falls Sharply in 2022Crunchbase

As Free School Meals End, School Nutrition Directors Brace for Challenges, Education Week

As students go back to school, many face a school lunch bill for the first time in two years, NPR

Inflation means teachers who buy their own supplies have to spend more or ask for help, Marketplace

For the first time in 20 years, teachers can deduct more for school supplies, NPR

Teachers Take to Twitter to Crowdfund Classroom Supplies, Education Week

Youth mental health is in crisis. Are schools doing enough?, AP

Kids are back in the classroom, and laptops are still spying on them, Wired

5 Big Technology Challenges Teachers and Administrators Will Face This School Year, Education Week

Eighty-three percent of school district technology leaders report that they will expand their cybersecurity initiatives, with a majority (62 percent) also increasing their cybersecurity budgets…By contrast: in 2020, only 31 percent said they were increasing their cybersecurity budgets. Education Week

‘Heat day’ school closures on the rise because the climate crisis is already here, Daily Kos

First day of school? Nationwide heat waves say ‘not so fast’, District Administration

Another year, another reason to cancel classes: soaring school heat worsened by faulty or non-existent air-conditioning. School closures due to heat are not new but they have been increasing significantly, with numbers doubling in cities such as Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver and Philadelphia”, District Administration and Daily Kos.

Stress, Harassment, Censorship: What Educators Face as Politics Roils Schools, Education Week

“Sixty-one percent of principals and 37 percent of teachers surveyed by the RAND Corporation reported experiencing harassment about these politicized topics, which contributed to burnout, frequent job-related stress, and symptoms of depression…. And there are signs this contention has led to a chilling effect: 1 in 4 teachers have been told to stay away from conversations about political and social issues in class. Seventeen states have imposed bans and restrictions on how teachers can discuss racism and sexism, either through legislation or other avenues” Education Week

Back to school in DeSantis’ Florida, where teachers are looking over their shoulders, New York Times

How the Overturning of ‘Roe v. Wade’ Will Reverberate Through Classrooms, Education Week

For some students, back to school will mean better-ventilated classrooms, NBC news 

Let the kids sleep: California becomes first state to mandate later school starts, Today

The Best Advice for New Teachers, in 5 Words or Less: 2022 Edition, Education Week

5 Strategies for a Successful Start to the School Year, Getting Smart

– Thomas Hatch

Revisiting Innovative Educational Change in Africa, the US and India

IEN will be taking a break until the end of August, but in the meantime, please revisit some of our posts highlighting specific improvements that organizations like Fount for Nations, Van Ness Elementary School and Transcend, and the Central Square Foundation are making in schools and learning opportunities around the world. IEN returns in September with our annual scan of “back to school” headlines in the US and other parts of the world.