ISSUE 81 | October 12, 2020
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
How should PA boost student learning during pandemic?
School-choice advocates in Pennsylvania are backing a bill that would give federal pandemic relief funding to families, to help them pay for educational expenses like private school tuition and tutoring.

Supporters see this legislation as a solution to the challenges of education during the pandemic, but opponents worry that it could lead to the underfunding of public schools - and that it would not equitably benefit lower-income families.  

Half a million PA children are supposed to be learning to read right now. Are they?
Approximately 570,000 Pennsylvania children are in grades K-3 – the window in which they are expected to master basic reading skills.

With in-person classes being greatly reduced, experts are concerned that these students may lag behind others in terms of reading skills, which could have long-term negative effects. 

Did COVID closures cause a public school exodus?
Polls earlier in the year indicated that challenges associated with virtual learning have prompted large numbers of parents to consider removing their children from public schools and switching to private or homeschool options.

These changes have not materialized in Philadelphia; there seems to have been only a small decline in fall public school enrollment, with the exception of a more noticeable drop in kindergarten enrollment.

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
Long-term joblessness could foster skill loss and further hinder recovery
In some economic sectors hit hardest by the pandemic (e.g. entertainment, hospitality, and higher education), large numbers of people are experiencing long-term unemployment and are uncertain about when they will be able to return to work.

It is possible that these people may lose some of their jobs skills while unemployed, and some may need further training or education in order to return to work. 

Cities poised to absorb climate migrants face a new challenge
Experts report that ‘climate havens’ – cities that will not be severely affected by climate change in the short term – should prepare for an influx of displaced residents from heavily affected areas.

These cities may struggle to meet the needs of the new residents; many face substantial budget shortfalls due to loss of revenue from sources like state aid, tourism, and taxes. 

Study explores inequities in metro area transportation systems
In many cities, safe and reliable transportation is not equitably accessible to all residents. A study by the Urban Institute examines how access to public transportation and the ability to purchase a vehicle can vary depending on an individual’s race, ethnicity, and income.

The authors suggest that policies to improve transportation can lead to greater opportunity for lower-income communities. 

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