Since the first day of the first school shutdowns in the spring of 2020, parents and educators have worried about the impact of virtual learning. Would students fall behind by being out of the classroom? And if so, by how much?
According to a study out of Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research, the answer is yes. Students learned less from home - missing the most, presumably, when virtual learning was new and forced to begin without preparation (early on in the pandemic). On average, it is believed that students missed 7 to 10 weeks of math learning in the 2020-2021 school year.
While that in and of itself is concerning, what’s more so is that schools in communities with high rates of poverty missed even more. The researchers estimated that students in high-poverty schools missed 22 weeks of math learning, having spent more time out of the classroom with fewer resources from the schools and at home.
This gap between low poverty and high poverty communities is not new and thus isn’t entirely unexpected. However, that does not make it any less concerning. All students, educators and parents will have to work hard in an attempt to recoup some of the educational losses. However, the schools and families already under-resourced will have to work even harder. And if the gaps cannot be closed, those students will take the next steps into college and/or the workforce less prepared.
**The R.J. Leonard Foundation fully supports all public health measures that keep children and families safe, while also recognizing the need for solutions to the challenges that evolve as a result of such measures**
My oldest son starts kindergarten this fall, with a start date about two months away. Last week, I received an email from his school with his school supplies list and the opportunity to purchase those supplies now though a district-wide program. In looking at the list, I was reminded of the school supply lists I compiled last year for our Fellows’ children. It was a very different experience.
Our Fellows live in a variety of districts across Bucks and Montgomery Counties, some highly rated, others poorly so. When I called one of the districts in mid-August, attempting to find a supply list for the upcoming school year, I was told that the list wasn’t ready yet and would only be shared with parents. Many other districts, at this point, had posted their lists online in addition to sending it via email/mail. This was mere weeks before the first day of school, leaving the parents with limited time to find the items, let alone the best prices (more often than not brands are also specified on lists).
Now, does a delayed supply list indicate a lesser school or district? No, but it does demonstrate the difference between what parents from one school district to another not only expect but receive. It illustrates the privilege of time for preparation and suggests a school district that is perhaps better resourced, in that it is able to send out this information early and quickly.
This comparison may seem trivial, but it is an example of the small pieces of disparity throughout our communities that compile into uneven playing fields. It is a look at how families in neighboring districts start off the school year - one with time to spare, the other harried through no fault of their own. It is something that we need to remember.
Not every community has the same step up - whether in regard to their school district, access to groceries, access to gas or public transportation and more. That needs to change.
You may have heard in recent months, if not years, that the United States is in a mental health crisis. And whether or not the word “crisis” is apt (it is), we are certainly experiencing an uptick in mental health issues and concerns. The White House reported in March of this year that 2 in 5 adults report experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, with several subpopulations harder hit than others. The number of adolescent girls, for example, who have been to the ER following attempted suicide has increased 51% since 2009.
The causes of this ongoing increase are wide ranging and not fully flushed out, though many point to the COVID-19 pandemic and social media as two major catalysts. Regardless, one thing is certain, as a country, we are not equipped to handle the rising need for mental health treatment. Access to mental health care in terms of affordability/insurance coverage, location, virtual availability, and practicing practitioners is overwhelmingly limited. Slate published a piece this week about call centers unable to staff the Mental Health Crisis Line, for instance.
Without mental health care actions taken to address mental health will be stymied before they start. We must work to find meaningful ways to make treatment available to all who want and need it.
Pride Month is a month that celebrates the freedom for individuals who are LGBTQIA+ to be themselves. It is a month marked by parades, festivals and more. This year’s Pride Month is no different in how it is commemorated. A full calendar of events can be found throughout Bucks, Montgomery and neighboring counties. However, there is also an underlying anxiety in 2022 - an acknowledgement that throughout the country the gains toward equality and acceptance that have been made are being pulled back or, at least, threatened.
We cannot afford to take steps back when there are still so many steps forward ahead of us. This Pride Month, celebrate, yes, but also learn. Find out what you can do to continue fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights.
Love cannot win when hate legislates.
This past Monday, June 6, was a beautiful day - and not just because of the perfect weather! Thank you for coming out to golf with us, learn more about RJLF and help us raise the money we need to continue serving our Fellows.
We have said time and again (Because it is absolutely true) that RJLF would not be what it is without our amazing community. Monday was yet another example of this.
We can’t wait to see you all on the course next year for RJLF’s 2nd Annual Golf Outing!
RJLF’s 1st annual golf outing is this Monday, June 6th at the Doylestown Country Club, and it’s not too late to join us!
Golfers tee off Monday at noon after a buffet lunch and are greeted with dinner after their final hole. Competitions will be held for the longest drive and more!
Not interested in golfing? Join us for dinner only! We would love to see you and have the opportunity to tell you more about RJLF.
Tickets are available here.