Biden should declare education emergency – Greeley Tribune

Joe Biden must declare a state of emergency over the alarming state of education in America.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the math and reading scores of 9-year-olds in the United States in 2022 fell 5 points in reading and 7 points in math compared to 2020. This is the sharpest decline in reading since 1990 and the first ever decline. in math, the National Assessment of Educational Progress reported.

These 9-year-olds are a demographic indicator of the struggles of students in elementary, middle and high schools after two years of pandemic remote learning that has upended their education.

“Students in 2022 are performing at a level not seen two decades ago,” said NCES Acting Associate Commissioner Daniel McGrath.

If there was ever a reason for Biden to take emergency action, this is it — and such a move would benefit far more people across the board than his recent student debt relief package.

Private school students, most of whom have remained open during COVID quarantines, will be fine. Other American children must recover their path after the learning loss.

Worse, the start of the 2022 school year is not starting from a position of strength. There is a marked shortage of teachers across the country. It’s a problem that won’t go away anytime soon, as a Rand Corp. this summer found that around a third of teachers and principals said they were likely to leave their current jobs by the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

Why?

“Teachers and school staff have struggled for years with a lack of professional respect; inadequate support and resources; below-average pay; unsustainable student loan debt; endless paperwork; and a culture of blame that arms standardized testing to attack public schools and public school teachers,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said in a statement.

Biden can’t do much to increase the supply of respect, but he can do something to increase support.

By declaring a state of school emergency, Biden can free up federal funds to shore up lagging resources in schools across the country. Pandemic relief funds have been solicited, but the needs are clearly great.

And when it comes to student debt relief, teachers should be on the front line.

The federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program forgives up to $17,500 of subsidized or unsubsidized direct or FFEL loans after five full, consecutive years of teaching at a qualifying school. Why not do more to ease the debt burden and keep more teachers in the classroom? Why not forgive as you go, so teachers don’t struggle on the outside?

For those with direct loans, the Civil Service Loan Forgiveness Program cancels the remaining balance after 120 qualifying payments (estimated over 10 years). It’s a 10-year job in a field where burnout is high. Why not give interest-free loans until they hit the 10-year mark?

America’s schools and their students have a lot of work ahead of them as we put the pandemic in our rearview mirror. The Biden administration has proven to be adept at spending money like water — it could do a lot of good by redirecting some of the largesse toward this country’s future.

—Boston Herald Editorial Staff, September 1

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