May 22, 2020 Edition

Across the country, elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools have closed as part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Each week, IDRA issues an update on the impact of COVID-19-related policies on schools, students and families.

More resources and trainings for teachers, school administrators, families and communities are on our Learning Goes On website. See the Spanish version of this edition.
Policy Update: Without Intervention, COVID-19-Induced Budgetary Shortfalls Will Fall Hardest on Marginalized Students in the South 
* Free Webinar: Teacher, Parent and Student Perspectives on Using Google Classroom Effectively

* Free Webinar: Elevate the Voices of Students in STEM at Your School - Webinar Q&A on Hosting the Texas Chief Science Officer Program

* Survey for parents, students, educators and others
Policy Update
Without Intervention, COVID-19-Induced Budgetary Shortfalls Will Fall Hardest on Marginalized Students in the South 
The quality of students' education should not depend on their race, ethnicity or zip code. However, throughout U.S. history, race, poverty and the quality of schools have been inextricably linked to the detriment of students of color. Students of color often live in communities with lower levels of economic wealth due to discriminatory practices like housing segregation, predatory mortgage lending, redlining and exclusionary zoning (Collins, et al., 2017). These practices negatively impact these students, who are over five times more likely to attend a high-poverty school than their White student peers (NCES, 2018).
Education Budgetary Fallout from COVID-19
The national economic fallout is projected in the hundreds of billions of dollars (McNichol, et al., 2020) due to COVID-19-related decreases in sales tax revenue, increases in state unemployment benefits and higher public health costs. Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, all southern states already spent less than the national average on education (IDRA, 2020).
States will see significant budgetary shortfalls impacting education in both the short term and long term. For example, Arkansas cut $122.9 million from the public school fund for the 2020 fiscal year (Moritz & Wickline, 2020). A $4 billion and $3 billion budget shortfall is anticipated in North Carolina (Hinton, 2020) and Georgia (Salzer, 2020), respectively. This week, Texas announced a minimum of 5% across-the-board state cuts, including for its K-12 and higher education agencies (Abbott, et al, 2020). And Virginia reversed tuition freezes scheduled for higher education, halted teacher raises and eliminated planned funding increases for counselors.
School Funding Processes in the South Make Students in Poor Districts Especially Vulnerable to Economic Downturns
Due to the systemic barriers that concentrate poverty in many communities in the South, state budgetary shortfalls will undoubtedly fall harder on students in property-poor school districts. Where school district funding comes from property taxes, many property-poor districts cannot collect sufficient funds to provide a high-quality education and thus rely more heavily on state revenue. In those districts, local resources represent a relatively small portion of education funding. In fact, in every southern state except Florida and Texas, local funding driven by property taxes is a smaller percentage of total school revenue than the national average.

State revenues are the source of the majority of education funding in nearly every southern state. So as state revenues decline and state costs rise due to COVID-19, underserved students who reside in property-poor districts will be forced to rely on state legislatures to adequately and equitably distribute funding in the face of budget cuts.
Charting an Equitable Path Forward in Education
Policymakers must carefully consider how potential cuts to education may impact the most underserved students - students of color, English learners, rural students and students in economically distressed areas - and chart a way forward to ensure these students still receive the access to a high-quality education they deserve. Policymakers should:
  • Draw from state rainy-day funds to meet the needs of students during this crisis;
  • Continue to request federal education COVID-19 relief funds;
  • Update state funding formulae to ensure schools are funded equitably and able to meet the needs of marginalized students during any future budgetary crises;
  • Shield education spending from state budget cuts but, if cuts must be made, ensure they are limited in time and scope and protect the most vulnerable students;
  • Prioritize funding based on actual student need - focusing on students of color, students from families with limited incomes, English learners and students with disabilities - to ensure their access to resources and services to fill opportunity gaps;
  • Allocate funds to address resource gaps that result from the COVID-19-related shift to at-home learning, e.g., for digital resources, social-emotional supports, targeted academic and learning assessment resources, and summer learning opportunities; and
  • Consider additional stable and progressive ways to raise revenue that do not disproportionately negatively impact marginalized communities.

Citations below

Free Educator Webinars
Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at 2:00 PM (cdt)
Most people know that Google Classroom is a free online classroom management system, developed by Google for schools. But being a powerful and popular tool doesn't necessarily keep teachers from experiencing bumps along the way. 

In this webinar, get tips on how to use Google Classroom more effectively from the perspectives of a teacher, parent and student.

CSO webinar image
Friday, May 29, 2020 at 
9:30 AM (cdt)
Are you interested to learn more about IDRA's Texas Chief Science Officer Program?  CSOs are students in grades 6-12 elected by their peers to be liaisons for STEM in their schools and communities. They learn leadership skills to implement on-campus projects and advocate for student voice in STEM.

Join Dr. Stephanie Garcia, the Texas Regional Lead for the CSO Program, with your questions and coffee in hand! This is an open Q&A discussion for families, students, educators and community organizations. We would love for you to join the conversation and learn more about how to be a part of this incredible student-driven program.

These free webinar recordings are available for viewing at your convenience.

* Equitable Practices for Teaching Online
* Digital Divide: Connectivity, Infrastructure and Devices
* Tools & Tips to Alleviate the Homework Gap
* Facilitating Online Math Sessions
* PBL at Home & Across the Curriculum
* ELAR Series
    * Journal Writing About the Present for the Future - ELAR Webinar Part 1
    * From Journaling to Personal Narratives - ELAR Webinar Part 2
    * From Journaling and Personal Narratives to Letter Writing - ELAR Webinar Part 3
* Chief Science Officer Students Determined to Promote STEM Despite School Closures
Teaching Science in Virtual Learning Environments
* How a School District Tackled the Digital Divide - available soon

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Policy Update Citations

Abbott, G., Patrick, D., & Bonnen, D. (May 20, 2020). Letter to state agencies and courts.

Collins, C. Asante-Muhammad, D., Hoxie, J., & Nieves, E. (2017). The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide is Hollowing Out America's Middle Class. Institute for Policy Studies. 

IDRA. (April 3, 2020). Students in Southern States Face Short- and Long-Term COVID-19 Challenges, Learning Goes On. San Antonio, Texas: Intercultural Development Research Association.

Mattingly, J. (April 24, 2020). " It was a landmark year for education funding in Virginia - until COVID-19," Richmond Times Dispatch. 

McNichol, E., Leachman, M., & Marshall, J. (April 14, 2020). States Need Significantly More Fiscal Relief to Slow the Emerging Deep Recession. Austin, Texas: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. 

Moritz, J., & Wickline, M. (April 16, 2020). " Arkansas Legislature OKs '21 budget; Virus's economic hit forecast to leave $212M unfunded," Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

NCES. (2019). Table 216.60.Number and percentage distribution of public school students, by percentage of students in school who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, school level, locale, and student race/ethnicity: Fall 2016. Digest of Education Statistics. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

Salzer, J. (April 20, 2020). Report: GA Budget shortfall may top $4 billion over next 15 months, Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 
The Intercultural Development Research Association is an independent private non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring educational opportunity for every child. IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by providing dynamic training; useful research, evaluation, and frameworks for action; timely policy analyses; and innovative materials and programs.
IDRA works hand-in-hand with hundreds of thousands of educators and families each year in communities and classrooms around the country. All our work rests on an unwavering commitment to creating self-renewing schools that value and promote the success of students of all backgrounds.