By Dr. Javaid E. Siddiqi, President & CEO, The Hunt Institute
As we begin to digest the results of the 2020 election, a few things are clear. While there was a dramatic shift in the Presidential election, the makeup of state and local governments remains much the status quo, with only two legislative chambers flipping, both in New Hampshire. It’s too soon to tell what this means for education overall, but what we do know is that in the midst of the ambiguity related to the pandemic, there will be consistency in leadership.
This past spring and summer, state governments for the most part were able to fend off education spending cuts by smartly deploying funds provided by the federal government as part of the CARES Act. As we enter a new phase of the pandemic coupled with funding constraints, it will take bold moves on the part of state and federal government to continue to provide needed support to education.
At this point, maintaining funding is not enough, as in effect districts are dealing with spending cuts due to all of the additional costs associated with COVID-19, from PPE to cleaning supplies, technology tools, and more. It is critical that states work together for the good of our students. They were able to come together this spring in passing relief funding, and they need to do so again.
Additionally, leaders should be looking creatively at what assessments should look like. While it is necessary to know where students are to meet them there, it is not enough to simply survive. We should take this time to determine once and for all what fair and equitable funding looks like in order to innovate across the education continuum. Research shows how critical the early years are for a child’s overall development, and we must invest in quality child care for all. Creative funding models to support this were on some ballots this year, including universal pre-K in Portland Oregon’s district. The issue of child care is inextricably linked with the economy as well, since getting people back to work once the pandemic slows down is dependent on child care availability.
With the exception of the presidency, the makeup of leadership across the country has stayed much the same. These leaders were able to sensibly respond to the hemorrhaging of the education system this past spring with appropriate levels of funding. In order to prevent further bleeding, I hope to see decisive action on the part of the Biden administration as well as federal and state governments to continue to shore up our education system in order for it to be what it should be, what it can be, and what it must be.
Dr. Javaid E. Siddiqi
President & CEO, The Hunt Institute