The Intersection

Practical Steps to Education Transformation | New Report

September 29, 2021

The COVID Constituency project was developed by The Hunt Institute, in collaboration with Governor Bob Wise, former congressman and governor of West Virginia. Through the project, we seek to collect the firsthand COVID experiences, perceptions, and priorities from students, parents, and teachers, and translate them into actionable policies that will fundamentally change education for the better. This blog series will offer space to share and amplify the desires of the new COVID Constituency and provide resources that will help inform policymakers as they work to transform education, while allowing opportunity for others to contribute information and partner in this important work.

As our report highlights, Americans care deeply about education issues. Their shared experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic have heightened their sensitivity to the shortcomings of the education system and have fostered a vision for change. Families seeing their children affected by the academic and emotional impacts of the COVID shutdown further fuels public concern. From the polls, we see emerging education priorities from the COVID Constituency. Americans have expressed strong interest for providing student wellness support systems, implementing personalized learning, addressing the digital divide, and investing in job skills and workforce training.

  • Seventy-eight percent of adults agree that personalized instruction is a better way for students to learn.
  • Eight in ten parents support structured social, emotional, and mental health support for their child.
  • More than eight in ten parents believe that expanding computers and high-speed internet access for students should be a priority for schools when using federal funding, while more than eight in ten teachers believe that providing all students with free universal high-speed internet access is a critically important federal investment.
  • More than nine in ten Americans believe investing in opportunities that pair education and job-skills training with paid work would be an effective approach in helping people gain qualifications for good jobs.

By identifying the priorities of the COVID Constituency, we hope to encourage policymakers and education leadership to take major action.

Fully recognizing that across the country our schools are still in triage or transitioning to reopening phases of recovery, there are a few practical steps policymakers and education leaders can take as they work towards education transformation over the next three years.

  • Define desired learning objectives and then plan how to achieve them.
  • Determine what lessons have been learned from the COVID-19 shutdown and what practices are valuable to retain or expand.
  • Emphasize constantly that the goal is not to add more layers of work to already stressed teachers and learners.
  • Utilize the COVID Constituency to build support for moving beyond simple restoration to a vastly improved education system for their children.
  • Respect the time needed for emotional and physical recovery from this pandemic.

This is a critical period for deciding whether there will be genuine transformation of the education system or just a return to an unsatisfactory status quo.

Almost two years of shared sacrifice has created an unexpected public movement that supports significant action. We encourage all those who are committed to true education transformation to read and share our report.

Join us as we work to support and promote the voices of the COVID Constituency in making bold change in education. If you are interested in learning more about the COVID Constituency work, please contact us here. Read the full report below.

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