In this recent WaPo article, Eric Gordon, chief executive for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District said it best, “We have to have a recovery plan for education … I’m really worried that people think schools and colleges just flipped to digital and everything’s fine and we can just return to normal. That’s simply not the case.” Indeed, the recovery process for learning loss will result in a “generation of students forced to play catch-up, perhaps for years to come”. And for the most vulnerable students and communities the challenges and disparities are all the more immense. There are no easy answers for how to make up this learning loss at a scalable and accelerated pace for all students but wise district and school leaders like Eric Gordon are thinking strategically ahead about elongated school days, longer school years, after school programs, more accessible on-line learning and the like.
But one thing is for certain. Districts and states, who will inevitably face immense revenue shortfalls in the coming months, will need a major infusion of federal funds in school year 2020/21 just to begin to repair the damage. Think back to the federal stimulus package during the 2008/9 Great Recession that funneled almost $100 billion to education. It still took many states more than seven years to return to funding levels of pre-recession. This time around the needs will be far greater. Will Congress pass a “phase IV” stimulus package that recognizes the dire, long term needs created by the dual losses of learning and revenue in The New Normal?