James Jan-Feb 2021 web - Flipbook - Page 58
rooted in structural racism. Systems that were designed
to protect the most vulnerable populations failed as
more and more families fell into poverty, causing issues
such as food insecurity, lack of health care access, and
unstable housing. Between May and October 2020, it
is estimated nearly 8 million Americans, many of them
children and minorities, fell into poverty. All of these issues have deleterious impacts on families and children’s
ability to learn and succeed.
As Georgia moves into 2021, an essential question
remains: How does the state move from response to
recovery to success? There was tremendous pressure
for schools to open for in-person learning in fall 2020,
with the recognition that schools were the foundation
that needed to be in place for the economy and the rest
of society to begin to recover from the pandemic. The
recovery for Georgia schools, however, is intrinsically
linked with the recovery and support of other government-led sectors such as economic development, health
and safety, and social service providers. It also depends
on the involvement of the private and nonprofit sectors,
from business and industry leaders to community-based
and faith organizations. Finally, the recovery depends on
leaders from across each of these agencies and entities
to engage at the state, regional, and/or local level.
The issues facing education in 2021 are not new.
SEPTEMBER/ OCTOB E R 2020
They have just become more difficult and more urgent.
As is often said, crises create opportunities for broader
change. As Georgia moves from response to recovery
and ultimately to success, it is important to take a step
back and consider the longer-term imperative to create
a better system for all individuals. However, reinventing
school involves rethinking funding formulas, redesigning
teacher training and professional development models,
addressing statewide broadband access, strengthening
alignments between early learning, K-12, and post-secondary, and local, regional, and state workforce pathways, as well as whole system overhauls. These broad
policy plans need a commensurate funding strategy and
focused leadership to fully support the implementation of
the necessary changes.
The latest The Top Ten Issues to Watch takes a deep
dive into each of these issues to inform conversations
with policymakers, educators, and community and business leaders about these challenges and opportunities.
Together, with a common vision for excellence, we must
all make a New Year’s resolution to commit and recommit
to a strong public education system and evaluate strategies that ensure educational success and a brighter future
for all our students, our state, and our nation.
Dana Rickman, PhD is the vice president at the Georgia Partnership for
Excellence in Education.
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