A recession is coming, and the consequences are likely to be devastating for public schools – unless state and federal policymakers learn from the last downturn and take smart steps to cushion the blow.
That’s the message of “The Coronavirus Pandemic and K-12 Funding,” a new report from the Albert Shanker Institute. It points out that schools in many states never recovered from the 2007-09 recession. Now they are about to be hit with another one, and it may be worse.
“That is, many jurisdictions will be facing a possibly unprecedented funding crisis while they are still digging out from the last one,” co-authors Bruce Baker and Matthew Di Carlo write.
Lower-income parents are more than twice as likely as upper-income parents to be “very concerned” that their children are falling behind from missing school during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
The survey confirms that lower-income parents value their children’s education as much as anyone. And they are right to be concerned. Even if schools can reopen in the fall, most students will be away from the classroom for nearly half a year. As a New York Times editorial argues, this could have catastrophic effects.
It was no surprise when state officials announced last week that Indiana K-12 schools would stay closed for the remainder of the school year, with instruction provided remotely. But important questions won’t be answered for some time.
First, when will schools reopen? Will there be summer school this year, or will schools stay closed until fall — or even longer? How will Indiana help students recover from losing over two months of their education? And finally, how will we pay for it?
A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says that, absent an effective educational response, the pandemic “is likely to generate the greatest disruption in educational opportunity worldwide in a generation.” That’s a frightening thought.