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CT Praised for Summer Learning, Fed Investments in Ed Fall Short, the Work to End Legacy Preference

CT Makes Ed Headlines for Both Summer Learning and Data Transparency

It's #SummerLearningWeek! Our national affiliate, Education Reform Now, released a report yesterday that examines trends in how states are using their summer-specific funds under the American Rescue Plan (ARP). These findings are based upon a review of all states’ ARP plans, information on state department of education websites, and direct conversations with state staff across the country. The analysis results in key findings about national trends, which were highlighted by The 74 yesterday—a very good read! But particularly noteworthy here in Connecticut is that the report finds our state stands out for taking a proactive approach to the evaluation of its ESSER investments. It did so “more than any other state” through the creation of the COVID-19 Education Research Collaborative. The report also praises Connecticut for:

  • Being 1 of only 5 states to require that grantees have research-aligned low staff-to-student ratios.

  • Prioritizing funding for grantees that lower barriers to attendance (e.g., meals and transportation).

  • Giving a competitive priority to grantees with longer programming.

  • Conducting stakeholder engagement.

You can access that full report here.

In more good news for Connecticut—on Friday, Governing Magazine covered the findings in a recent report by Attendance Works, which examines how state policies have impacted student attendance and chronic absenteeism during COVID-19. Connecticut stands out again as a national leader because during the pandemic, the Connecticut State Department of Education began to release monthly data on attendance. The data show, unfortunately, that rates of chronic absenteeism have almost doubled in Connecticut from the beginning of the pandemic to April 2022. This suggests that there’s a lot of work left to be done; but—as the report repeatedly makes clear—Connecticut is well ahead of other states on the first step of producing transparent, public information that identifies which student groups will need support. Kudos, CT!

Federal Investments in Ed Fall Short

Yesterday, an Education Week story explored how the federal government's contributions toward educating the nation's children often fall short of "self-imposed targets." The story references a new report by the Economic Policy Institute, which argues that the country must increase federal investments in K-12 education, rather than expecting districts to rely on state and local revenue. That current process results in a system of education funding that is both inadequate and inequitable. Moreover, there are many groups of students who get especially shortchanged by federal funding systems. For instance, Congress set a goal of covering 40% of the expenses related to educating students with disabilities; but those investments have always fallen far short. Title I is another federal grant that aims to fund school districts with heavy concentrations of poverty; but studies have found these resources don't always reach their intended targets. This interesting article also includes short blurbs about current efforts to fix these problems. Another good read!

CT Work to End Legacy Preferences Makes National News

Today's New York Times (NYT) has an article exposing the "quiet fight" to sustain legacy admissions in elite colleges, such as Yale. The highly discriminatory admissions practice, in which a college gives preference to applicants related to alumni of that institution, has come under fire in recent years. By favoring students whose families have historical connections to colleges, the practice perpetuates systemic discrimination along racial and socio-economic lines. Literally by definition, legacy preferences also disadvantage first-generation college applicants. Here in Connecticut, the Higher Education Committee introduced legislation this year that would have put an end to legacy preferences in both public and private institutions of higher education. The NYT article covers the heated hearings that resulted in Connecticut, before the legislation ultimately died. Interestingly, the article also observes that the US Supreme Court is anticipated to hear arguments about race-conscious admissions this fall; if consideration of racial preferences was banned altogether, legacy admissions, which favor white students, might be harder to defend in the long-run. Logan Roberts—a Yale student who leads an organization of first-generation college students and who testified this year before the Connecticut legislature—is quoted in NYT as saying: “Students who already have a leg up don’t need another leg up.” More to come on this unfinished business!

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