Dr. Brenda Bautsch Dickhoner

Dr. Brenda Bautsch Dickhoner

The Colorado-based Common Sense Policy Roundtable are looking at the global pandemic's impact on education in a white paper called “Putting Students First: Strategies to Mitigate the COVID Slide” Thursday morning.

Education fellow Dr. Brenda Bautsch Dickhoner authored the report that aims to apply the Policy's business sense to projected learning losses from school closures examines the hope of potential strategies to combat the slide of more than 124,000 closures impacting reportedly 55 million of the nation’s 57 million learning from home.

Her solutions include identifying and addressing learning gaps, increasing instructional time, ensuring access to academic support and considering competency-based education.

Read the full report by clicking here.

Dickhoner has worked on education policy at the state and federal level for more than a decade, including at the Colorado Department of Education on research and policy related to college access and success. She formerly advised lawmakers in numerous states as an education policy expert for the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.

Her newest research cites the pandemics unequal academic impact and outcomes for students from families are also experiencing unemployment, food insecurity, homelessness or the lack access to internet and suitable technology.

"Our youngest students may face the biggest challenges as they lose critical momentum in developing foundational math and literacy skills as well as social skills," Dickhoner wrote. "Research on the effects of teacher strikes in Argentina found that elementary students who lost 80-90 days of instruction saw a long-term impact on their educational attainment and career trajectory and had lower labor market earnings as adults."

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported on the education question Monday, as well, with experts telling the paper that the academic gap facing have-nots — students at risk of falling further behind due to poverty, disability and/or inability to fluently speak English — is widening during this era of pandemic and distance-learning.

"I haven't heard any reasonable argument that gaps aren't growing by the day," said Dr. Kevin Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center and professor of education at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

To help shrink the gap, lawmakers should ensure funding for a longer school year next academic year, Welner said, and "arguably for longer school days," pandemic permitting.

He challenged policymakers and taxpayers to consider what children need right now and what can be done to help.

"If we really wanted to bail out our kids in the same way we're bailing out airlines, we'd be investing heavily — not just in our schools — but in kids' needs outside of school: the social safety net," Welner said.

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