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With Equity in Mind, Districts Address State Budget Cuts29634<p>​The financial fallout from the pandemic has left school districts facing several years of budget shortfalls and tough decisions. State and school leaders everywhere are learning how to do more with less and mitigate harm to their most vulnerable students. The Wallace Blog looked at some of the top priorities and challenges state leaders are facing, lessons learned from the Great Recession and how they are addressing budget shortfalls. </p><p>Revenue is down across the country because states are collecting less from taxes on sales and personal income. According to Daniel Thatcher, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, states are projecting an 11 to 12 percent decline in revenue, which informs their budget decisions for the upcoming fiscal year. </p><p>“Education is not escaping these cuts scot-free,” Thatcher says. </p><p>And while school districts across the board are facing cuts, some have more capacity to handle them than others. Even if all districts face the same state budget cuts, Thatcher says, property-wealthy districts could raise revenue on their own to make up for them. Districts that don’t have that capacity would be much more deeply affected by the cuts. </p><p>The consequences of these kinds of cuts are not entirely unknown. During the 2008 Great Recession, schools faced similar types of budget cuts, which significantly reduced student ELA and math achievement. These effects were <a href="https&#58;//cepa.stanford.edu/content/impact-great-recession-student-achievement-evidence-population-data">concentrated in school districts serving low income students and students of color</a>. Thatcher hopes states have learned from how cuts were handled during the Great Recession and that they will attempt to lessen negative effects on the most vulnerable students.</p><p>Robert Hull, president and CEO of the National Association of State Boards of Education, echoes these concerns, noting that while wealthier communities will see more damage in the next few years as property values shift, the poorest communities are being hit hardest now and need federal investment right away. </p><p>“The districts that really need the greatest resources, they’re going to see a greater dearth of resources right now because that money coming from the local level is drying up,” Hull says.</p><p>Besides the decrease in state revenue, districts are spending more because of the pandemic. Investment in technology, intensive school building cleaning, personal protective equipment, additional buses to allow for social distancing and professional development for teachers who are learning to teach online are driving up costs for schools, whether they start the year with a hybrid or online model. Additionally, Hull says, schools are continuing to provide meals to families in need, despite depleted nutrition funds. </p><p>There is also concern that some students are shifting from public schools to private schools or homeschooling, though it’s unclear how significant those numbers are right now. But fewer enrolled students would mean a decrease in funding for the next school year. Thatcher says it’s fair to say the parents with higher incomes are most likely to shift their children from public school to private schools or homeschooling.</p><p>“This is a concern for equity,” he says. “This is a concern for who is going to make it out of this pandemic in better shape than other students. It’s something that states need to be aware of.” </p><p>The more-equitable funding allocations that Thatcher would like to see would direct state dollars to low-wealth districts. However, he acknowledges, this is a politically difficult decision to make.</p><p>But states like Georgia have put in place systems to do just that. Georgia’s funding formula has a special carve-out of “equalization grants” for low-wealth and rural districts, which suffered the most during the Great Recession. These grants give more money to lower-wealth districts to bring them up to the same levels as the wealthier districts. In Colorado, state funding helps fill in gaps left by local funding from property taxes, to equalize funding across all districts. The recently passed Public School Finance Act created a way for the legislature to put more of the funding burden on local tax revenue, freeing up more state money for lower-income districts. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 3ca04ac0-4620-4be0-8d4b-22bf85fc9645" id="div_3ca04ac0-4620-4be0-8d4b-22bf85fc9645"></div><div id="vid_3ca04ac0-4620-4be0-8d4b-22bf85fc9645" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>“One of the other important things that we see states looking at, and that we suggest that states consider looking at, are the supports that help vulnerable students the most,” Thatcher says. Those include afterschool programs, reading supports, coaching and more. </p><p>In Utah, the state board has not only avoided school funding cuts—they actually increased education funding. The state board of education and legislative staff put together a document that illustrated education cuts at 2 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent. At 10 percent, Thatcher says, they would be making cuts to things like social emotional learning supports and professional development for teachers. But in August, Utah <a href="https&#58;//www.npr.org/2020/08/03/895386579/utah-lawmakers-use-savings-to-limit-cuts-to-education-and-social-services">lawmakers decided to dip into a rainy-day fund</a> and increased funding for K-12 education by 1.3 percent. </p><p>Many states had buoyed these sorts of reserve funds after the Great Recession, Thatcher says, lessening the more painful cuts for now because they have more cash on hand than they would have in the past.</p><p>“The other policy choice states are looking at is around the funding that comes through their categorical programs and trying to loosen the reins on these,” he says. Giving principals and district leaders more latitude in how they use this money can help them best meet the needs of their communities and schools. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read dd27bc36-1e38-4182-b987-86cc30232e55" id="div_dd27bc36-1e38-4182-b987-86cc30232e55"></div><div id="vid_dd27bc36-1e38-4182-b987-86cc30232e55" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>Hull and Thatcher noted the importance of school leaders as the key communicators and decision makers at the school level.</p><p>“Leadership matters. Communicate early and often, and be nimble as you’re making decisions,” Hull says of NASBE’s guidance for how to navigate these challenging times. He encourages leaders to be flexible and make changes as they know more, because we are learning more about the virus every day. </p><p>Thatcher agrees&#58; “At this time, school leadership is critical. They’re the key communicators to the community, to parents, and they are the ones who should make decisions based upon community input.” He urges parents to communicate with their principals and offer their support when and where they can. </p><p>Hull has also called for more research to help state boards of education and other education leaders make informed decisions. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 79458811-5b6f-46ac-8ec8-97a988a33f0f" id="div_79458811-5b6f-46ac-8ec8-97a988a33f0f"></div><div id="vid_79458811-5b6f-46ac-8ec8-97a988a33f0f" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>Thatcher’s hope is that the public health and financial crises become an opportunity to shift school funding to more reliable revenue sources, as well as to sources that are more fair to taxpayers and to students. He says&#58; “I’m just hopeful that we can take some good out of all this bad and reform our systems in this unprecedented time.”</p> Some see hope as state and school leaders shift funding options while mitigating harm to their most vulnerable students and communities. GP0|#b9334c26-a923-4388-bc0a-e17897e654f7;L0|#0b9334c26-a923-4388-bc0a-e17897e654f7|schools;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#0cb01eba-2e7f-46c5-93ac-fd5e107a7d36;L0|#00cb01eba-2e7f-46c5-93ac-fd5e107a7d36|districts;GP0|#0749b622-d2bc-4ff6-bf7d-ee28a6072887;L0|#00749b622-d2bc-4ff6-bf7d-ee28a6072887|district policyGP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Wallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-state-budget-cuts-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2020-10-20T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.10/20/2020 3:54:30 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / With Equity in Mind, Districts Address State Budget Cuts Some see hope as state and school leaders shift funding options 163https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
School Leaders Keep Eye on Equity as Unusual Year Begins29492<p>​​Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, chief executive officer of Baltimore City Schools, has heard the same concern from parents across her district’s 161 schools since in-person instruction was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. No matter where they live, she says, parents throughout her high-poverty district are worried that their children are losing ground academically during this period. </p><p>They have reason to be concerned&#58; A McKinsey &amp; Company report estimates that if in-person instruction does not fully resume until January, black, Hispanic and low-income students could lose as much as nine to 12 months of learning because they are less likely to have received high-quality remote instruction last spring and now again this fall. </p><p>As Baltimore developed its re-opening plan, some voices in the district argued that schools should focus on students’ social and emotional needs and put academics on the back burner. Santelises refused. Schools must tend to their students’ mental health, she says, but short-changing instruction would only exacerbate learning loss and widen the achievement gap for the most vulnerable groups. Simply put, schools have to do it all. &#160;</p><p>“It is easier in this time period to resonate in a broken-child narrative, to almost let ourselves off the hook for choosing to do one or the other,” she says. “I would argue that…in this crucible, we actually are being charged for the first time to do both-and for children who are not used to having people address their needs both-and.” &#160;</p><p>Approaching the re-opening of schools with a ‘both-and’ mindset was the central theme of Santelises’s keynote address at last month’s convening of Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Learning Community. The virtual event drew more than 270 participants, including 17 superintendents, from 80 districts across the U.S. that are testing a toolkit that guides how they hire, train and match principals to schools. The toolkit is based on lessons learned from the Principal Pipeline Initiative, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">which found a significant improvement in math and reading scores</a> across six districts that took a strategic approach to school leadership. The convening focused on principal pipeline activities in the midst of the pandemic and how districts like Baltimore are ensuring equity as schools re-open.&#160; </p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-plc-post-core-principles-lg-feature.jpg" alt="blog-plc-post-core-principles-lg-feature.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p>Equity is one of five core principles—along with health and safety, high-quality student learning, stakeholder engagement and continuous improvement—guiding Baltimore’s re-opening plan . The district examines every policy and practice with an eye on equity, determining which students may be disparately affected and how to mitigate those effects. Baltimore students started the school year virtually, but if and when schools transition to a hybrid-learning model, struggling students such as English learners and those far behind in reading and math will return to the classroom first. The district is also digging into attendance data during remote learning to expose disparities “so that we can have a response that is not the same for all, but that names without fear or frankly, apology, that there are certain groups of students that actually require more attention,” Santelises says.</p><p>Students aren’t the only ones needing attention as the school year gets under way. The convening also featured a panel of central-office leaders from three districts who described their efforts to support principals as they adjust to ever-shifting policies and lead their school communities during such trying circumstances. Rudy Jimenez, assistant superintendent of North East Independent School District, which serves 64,000 students in San Antonio, Texas, discussed how his district revised its communications strategy with principals after realizing that some were misinterpreting information coming from the central office. District leaders added a second weekly meeting with principals to avoid overwhelming them with too much information at once and shared their talking points after each virtual gathering for principals to review. The pandemic has also amplified the critical role of the district’s four principal supervisors. “They’ve been able to take the pulse of what’s going on in their collective schools and act accordingly,” says Jimenez.</p><p>The first day of school started at 3 a.m. for panelist Sheila McCabe, assistant superintendent for educational services for Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, with calls from principals who were being evacuated from their homes due to fast-moving wildfires in their region 45 miles north of San Francisco. The district postponed re-opening for a few days and its 21,000 students are currently fully remote. Re-opening has brought heightened attention to principals’ social and emotional wellbeing, says McCabe. After it became apparent that principals were running themselves ragged as they prepared for distance learning, district leaders realized they had to do a better job giving principals the space—and permission—to unplug and take time for themselves. Supporting principals has also meant rethinking how fast to proceed with the district’s pipeline-building efforts. “The question becomes, how much do we push and how much do we back off in helping site leaders move forward with these initiatives while simultaneously recognizing their capacity based on everything that’s taking place?” McCabe says.</p><p>The good news is that the pandemic hasn’t derailed pipeline work in many districts. Plenary attendees described holding virtual boot camps for new principals over the summer, hiring coaches to support school leaders, and implementing leader tracking systems to better manage principals’ career development. Boston Public Schools completely revamped its recruiting website in the midst of the pandemic, adding details about required leadership competencies, profiles of principal mentors and photos of its two most recent cohorts of new principals, 75 percent of whom are minorities. The goal, explains Corey Harris, Boston’s chief of accountability, is to give applicants a sense of who they will work with and what they will experience if they’re hired. Boston’s hiring process had already begun when the pandemic struck, but the district quickly pivoted to an all-virtual experience. Applicants can even do a dry run on Zoom before their interview to check connectivity.&#160; </p><p>While their districts continue adjusting to the new normal, participants in the learning community agreed that collaboration with families, staff, community partners and others is essential to ensuring an equitable response to a school year that will be like no other. Parents, noted Santelises, are counting on them. “Our families have not relinquished their belief in the power of education to give their young people the kinds of agency that oftentimes underresourced communities have not been able to fully experience.”</p>Recent convening of leaders from 80 U.S. school districts addresses issues of equity and principal support as schools re-openGP0|#3c236eec-afa6-4172-9b42-36a57befc9fe;L0|#03c236eec-afa6-4172-9b42-36a57befc9fe|principal pipeline;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#3fabc3e0-eead-49a5-9e92-99d8217d8607;L0|#03fabc3e0-eead-49a5-9e92-99d8217d8607|principals;GP0|#d8c6884c-01d7-4a90-96c3-5e633b2e0470;L0|#0d8c6884c-01d7-4a90-96c3-5e633b2e0470|principal supervisor;GP0|#0cb01eba-2e7f-46c5-93ac-fd5e107a7d36;L0|#00cb01eba-2e7f-46c5-93ac-fd5e107a7d36|districts;GP0|#b9334c26-a923-4388-bc0a-e17897e654f7;L0|#0b9334c26-a923-4388-bc0a-e17897e654f7|schools;GP0|#d12b494a-8c5d-4014-9866-51539e68ea50;L0|#0d12b494a-8c5d-4014-9866-51539e68ea50|COVID-19GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Jennifer Gill83<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-plc-post-speakers-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2020-10-13T04:00:00ZRecent convening of leaders from 80 U.S. school districts addresses issues of equity and principal support as schools re-open.10/13/2020 1:02:49 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / School Leaders Keep Eye on Equity as Unusual Year Begins Recent convening of leaders from 80 U.S. school districts 217https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
High-Quality Art and Community Relevance Key to Healthy Arts Organizations29432<p>What are common strategies employed by leaders of sustainable arts organizations? How might arts and culture institutions achieve organizational health and financial sustainability? A recent report by SMU DataArts, in partnership with The Wallace Foundation addresses these questions and more. </p><p><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/the-alchemy-of-high-performing-arts-organizations.aspx">The Alchemy of High-Performing Arts Organizations</a> studies two cohorts of organizations&#58; 10 with a long track record of high performance and 10 that engineered a “turnaround” from low to high performance. Through an analysis of similarities across the two groups, the report offers a blueprint of how they achieved organizational health, the cornerstone of which appears to lie between programmatic excellence and community relevance. Though the study was undertaken prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s being shared with the hope that the past experiences of 20 arts organizations may inform thinking about strategies for recovery.</p><p>We spoke with Zannie Voss, Ph.D., director of SMU DataArts, over email to explore pivotal insights from the report. </p><p><strong>What is the significance of examining arts organizations that engineered a “turnaround” from low to high performance, instead of focusing your research solely on arts organizations that have proven to sustain organizational health over a long period of time?&#160; </strong></p><p>The situation of the average organization is a need and desire to improve performance—how to get from their current Point A to Point B and beyond. Turnaround organizations have been in a similar position not long ago and can illuminate the path forward. Had we focused only on arts organizations that had proven to sustain organizational health over a long period, we might have missed the opportunity to better understand how to get the ball rolling towards high performance. </p><p>We learned that the high performing arts organizations in this study were once turnaround organizations.&#160; Their turnaround simply occurred prior to the timeframe captured in the data for this project. This finding reinforced the notion that turnarounds are not only possible, but their success can endure.</p><p><strong>You shared that both cohorts follow the mantra “success breeds success,” and assert that achieving “tactical wins” creates a positive feedback loop. For organizations currently struggling to obtain financial health, how might they identify their first “tactical win” to pursue? </strong></p><p>Initial tactical wins come in all shapes and forms, and typically result from some degree of risk-taking or innovation. We heard several examples such as&#58; 1) a first large gift that followed a big idea or strategy shift for the organization’s future; 2) the first time a shift in strategy or new programming successfully attracted the intended audience; 3) the first time another organization agreed to the idea of a partnership; 4) the first time board giving reached 100%; and, 5) the first time people were willing to pay for digital programming. </p><p>Each organization will have its own answer to the question&#58; “What will be our first, early win?”</p><p><strong>Recognizing that this data was gathered and synthesized prior to the onset of COVID-19, how can the findings still serve as a guide for other arts organizations?&#160;</strong></p><p>Coming out of the pandemic, many organizations will be looking for guidance on how to turnaround performance and become more stable. We contacted study participants two months into the COVID-19 crisis to ask whether their mental model for how success happens still held at this unique time. They unanimously confirmed that the underlying principles still hold, although some indicated that aspects, such as community orientation and adaptive capability have taken on even greater importance. Still, we acknowledge that the pandemic’s toll on human lives, the economy and public perceptions about the safety of gathering to share cultural experiences in closed spaces may impact aspects of this model in untold ways (e.g., introduction of new elements, the critical nature of some elements over others, timeframe required, etc.).</p><p><strong>What do you hope leaders of arts organizations will take away from the report’s findings and insights? </strong></p><p>Success is not accidental or haphazard. All interviewees possess a mental map—or playbook—for how success happens, created with involvement from staff and board. I hope arts leaders use the model as a framework for analyzing where their organization stands on the various elements. Does it heavily emphasize high standards of program excellence but underinvest in its community? Is the organization’s culture built on trust, transparency and a participatory management style? Is the organization’s energy in a place of passion, aggression or resignation? Are all decisions guided by mission alignment? Given what the organization has, what it does and where its expertise lies, where are there new opportunities to be seized? </p><p>Ultimately, success takes a slow, controlled burn. Grounded plans recognize multiple steps in the process rather than assuming a single action or miracle moment will provide transformation. </p>Author of new report finds that successful arts and culture institutions credit careful planning and dedicated workGP0|#459b8438-9b87-47d0-814e-02452652da81;L0|#0459b8438-9b87-47d0-814e-02452652da81|arts;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#13c6033c-e108-4f92-ac19-ca85041545d6;L0|#013c6033c-e108-4f92-ac19-ca85041545d6|arts research;GP0|#ae3018bd-38f8-4459-be73-7941ca86e093;L0|#0ae3018bd-38f8-4459-be73-7941ca86e093|theater;GP0|#a0d4f287-6ff9-448d-8c80-654a5fcb15c1;L0|#0a0d4f287-6ff9-448d-8c80-654a5fcb15c1|market research;GP0|#135f8a63-6fcf-4e66-b3cc-77e60f3d301a;L0|#0135f8a63-6fcf-4e66-b3cc-77e60f3d301a|arts leaders;GP0|#d0a568af-b675-4b26-8a4e-f0250c5ff139;L0|#0d0a568af-b675-4b26-8a4e-f0250c5ff139|organization health;GP0|#f8c55e37-82c5-4dfe-88d7-c11f0ce78227;L0|#0f8c55e37-82c5-4dfe-88d7-c11f0ce78227|financial stabilityGP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Wallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-Zannie-q-a-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2020-10-06T04:00:00ZAuthor of new report finds that successful arts and culture institutions credit careful planning and dedicated work10/6/2020 1:51:44 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / High-Quality Art and Community Relevance Key to Healthy Arts Organizations Author of new report finds that successful arts 153https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Keeping Kids Learning and Connected this Fall24471<p>​In response to the coronavirus pandemic last March, schools across the country closed their doors and pivoted quickly to distance learning. School and district leaders scrambled to distribute paper packets, devices and mobile hotspots, as well as to get students connected to free or inexpensive broadband internet. Inequities became apparent almost immediately as many students faced challenges accessing online classes. </p><p>With many schools now starting the new year in a hybrid or fully digital model, we took a look at how school leaders are building on lessons learned from the spring, testing out innovative approaches to digital learning and ensuring that students, particularly those who are most vulnerable, have what they need to be successful. </p><p><strong>The digital divide is not a new phenomenon</strong> </p><p>The digital divide—also known as “the homework gap”—existed long before the pandemic. A 2019 Pew Research Center study found that a third of rural Americans said they did not have a broadband internet connection at home. Ownership of desktop or laptop computers among rural Americans has only risen slightly since 2008. A Pew Research Center analysis of 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data showed that one in five school-aged children do not have high-speed internet in their home; that number increases to one in three when focused on children from low-income households. </p><p>Many district leaders, like Superintendent Robert Runcie in Broward County, Fla., had been working to eliminate this gap over the past several years and were therefore better positioned for the shift to distance learning last March. (Broward is one of six districts that participated in The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Supervisor Initiative.) The district had invested in infrastructure including a single sign-on system for teachers and staff; a learning management system called Canvas, which allowed for blended learning and sharing of ideas and curricula across the district; and a decreased ratio of students to computers, shifting from 6&#58;1 to 1&#58;1, effectively. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 993de807-2551-40a5-927c-68767f169871" id="div_993de807-2551-40a5-927c-68767f169871" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_993de807-2551-40a5-927c-68767f169871" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p><strong>Making the call this fall</strong> </p><p>The unprecedented crisis and limited federal guidance meant that district leaders faced complex decisions about whether or how to open their buildings. <br> “And that was, in some cases, at the expense of time and energy focused on making virtual learning as good as it can be,” said Allison Socol, assistant director of P-12 policy at The Education Trust (one of Wallace’s communications partners) and co-author of a report on promising digital learning practices from districts across the country.<br></p><p>Runcie started planning at the end of last spring for the very real possibility school would still be virtual in the fall. His team worked to understand best practices and recommendations for re-opening from other school systems across the country and around the world. At the time, infection rates in Florida were increasing and he knew his district was nowhere near ready to re-open in person. Schools opened in August with 100 percent virtual learning. </p><p><strong>Lessons learned so far this fall </strong></p><p>In Broward, with devices distributed and access to internet supported by partnerships with Comcast and AT&amp;T, Runcie turned his attention toward teachers. <br> “We wanted to make sure that there was a consistent level of high-quality education experiences online this year,” he said. </p><p>His district spent the summer training teachers to be more confident and effective using the online platform and tools. They found that some teachers had already risen to “master expert” level when it came to using these tools, and tapped their newfound expertise to help build capacity of others.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read cbf51070-8093-4f8c-8540-c5f5f9b8a905" id="div_cbf51070-8093-4f8c-8540-c5f5f9b8a905"></div><div id="vid_cbf51070-8093-4f8c-8540-c5f5f9b8a905" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>Despite the number of challenges school leaders face, Socol notes that school and district leaders have “really rise(n) to the occasion … and marshalled all of their resources and all of their people to meet the needs of students who are most struggling.” </p><p>A report Socol co-wrote in collaboration with Digital Promise, “<a href="https&#58;//s3-us-east-2.amazonaws.com/edtrustmain/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/06163247/10-Questions-for-Equity-Advocates-to-Ask-About-Distance-Learning-During-COVID-19-May-2020.pdf">With Schools Closed and Distance Learning the Norm, How is Your District Meeting the Needs of Its Students</a>?,” compiles innovative strategies and best practices districts are using to improve digital learning, particularly for their most vulnerable students. Some highlights include&#58;</p><ul><li>New Orleans distributed tens of thousands of Chromebooks, making students experiencing homelessness a priority</li><li>New York City Public Schools partnered with Apple and T-Mobile to provide LTE-enabled iPads to students</li><li>Rock Hill Public Schools in South Carolina provided curbside IT support outside of school buildings</li><li>Highline Public Schools in Washington state and Austin school districts sent wifi-equipped buses to apartment complexes and neighborhoods where students struggled with internet access</li><li>In Phoenix Union High School District, district leaders instituted a program in which an adult contacts every student every day to ensure they and their families have what they need </li><li>In New Orleans and San Francisco, free student support hubs involve adults besides classroom teachers in helping students with digital learning in small group settings</li></ul><p>Socol notes that sharing these ideas across state borders is an important role that state leaders can play. </p><p>“We would love to see state leaders think about how to collect information about what districts are doing, to track data on the success of these new initiatives…and then to help share those practices with other districts that are still trying to figure out how to help students learn in this moment,” she said.</p><p><strong>Prioritizing historically underserved students </strong></p><p>Despite school leaders’ best efforts to equip students with the devices they need to participate in digital learning, there is more work to be done, particularly for students of color and those from low-income households. </p><p>“There are so many other challenges besides just having a computer or an iPad or the internet,” Socol points out. “Students need a quiet space in order to participate and engage in online instruction. They need access to support if their internet’s down…. Younger students may need an adult there to help them access the instruction online.” </p><p>Runcie is still focused on helping Broward students who are struggling with basic needs, who may be left at home alone at a young age or who may be facing abuse. Part of Broward’s distance learning planning includes ensuring that social services are maintained. Since June, Runcie reports that social workers have provided 160,000 interventions in response to over 36,000 referrals. </p><p>Socol encourages school and district leaders to focus their efforts and energies on thinking of those students most underserved by the public school system. Some districts, such as Arlington Public Schools in Virginia, are planning to phase in in-person learning, starting with students with disabilities, English-language learners and those from low-income families. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 4b2e35fe-f919-4974-b122-ce83c3732288" id="div_4b2e35fe-f919-4974-b122-ce83c3732288"></div><div id="vid_4b2e35fe-f919-4974-b122-ce83c3732288" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p><strong>Advice for other school leaders </strong></p><p>Communication and transparency are at the top of Runcie’s priority list this fall, and he urges other district leaders to focus on the same.&#160;&#160;</p><p>“Communicate, communicate, communicate. Do it with integrity and be transparent, straight up with the community, what challenges you’re facing, what the approaches are and make sure you’re listening to them,” Runcie said. </p><p>His district conducted three major surveys of families. They held town halls and forums, partnering closely with the PTA, the special needs student advisory council and the school board. </p><p>Socol echoed the need to communicate regularly and honestly, adding a call for data collection. She hopes to see schools and districts conducting diagnostic assessments at the beginning of the school year to understand where students are and what they need to make up for lost instructional time. “And we need to see continued communication and transparency from school systems about how [distance learning] is going,” she added. </p><p>Finally, Runcie would like to see his fellow superintendents invest in technology, which includes both infrastructure and training for teachers and staff.&#160;</p><p>“Digital learning is something I believe is going to be here with us for the long run,” he said, noting that many children may have underlying health conditions or live in multigenerational households, factors that could keep them at home even if schools reopen their doors for in-person learning. “I think it’s something that you’ve got to commit to do, because I think it’s going to be part of our portfolio of offerings and the type of flexibility that we need to have in public education going forward.”</p>As the new school year kicks off—mostly virtually—how far have districts come since March in providing a strong online learning experience for students?GP0|#b9334c26-a923-4388-bc0a-e17897e654f7;L0|#0b9334c26-a923-4388-bc0a-e17897e654f7|schools;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#88b77bae-56d6-47d9-922f-54af703d57b5;L0|#088b77bae-56d6-47d9-922f-54af703d57b5|learning;GP0|#b8ed5074-540a-474a-8869-1738e0fecf74;L0|#0b8ed5074-540a-474a-8869-1738e0fecf74|online learning;GP0|#d12b494a-8c5d-4014-9866-51539e68ea50;L0|#0d12b494a-8c5d-4014-9866-51539e68ea50|COVID-19GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Wallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-Schools-and-COVID-19-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2020-09-29T04:00:00ZAs the new school year kicks off—mostly virtually—how far have districts come since March in providing a strong online learning experience for students?9/29/2020 6:11:56 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Keeping Kids Learning and Connected this Fall As the new school year kicks off—mostly virtually—how far have districts come 316https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Pandemic Brings challenges (and Opportunities) for Arts Education28602<p>​“My theme today is adaptation,” said Bahia Ramos, Wallace’s director of the arts, on a recent webinar hosted by Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA). “By that I mean a special kind of change. A change that makes a practice better suited to its environment.”</p><p>This environment, of course, is the one we are now six months into, where the COVID-19 pandemic, economic insecurity and uprisings for racial justice have transformed life in this country. For the students and teachers in arts learning programs, this has meant a total pivot, everything from transitioning to online learning and virtual convenings to teaching artists being laid off at extremely high rates. These changes and much more&#160;came up in the GIA webinar, where Ramos spoke along with Kimberly Olsen, executive director of NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and Alex Nock, principal of Penn Hill Group.<br> </p><p><strong>Adaptation at BGCA</strong></p><p>Back in 2014, Wallace and three Boys &amp; Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) in the Midwest embarked upon the Youth Arts Initiative to discover if <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/something-to-say-success-principles-for-afterschool-arts-programs.aspx">10 principles drawn from the nation’s best, specialty afterschool arts programs</a> could be applied within a general youth-serving organization better known for its sports programs. No one knew if it would work, but over the five years of the initiative, the clubs did <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/designing-for-engagement-the-experiences-of-tweens-in-the-boys-and-girls-clubs’-youth-arts-initiative.aspx">manage to successfully implement high-quality art skill-development programs</a> as defined by the Ten Principles for Success. Additionally, the retention rates for young people in the initiative was <em>twice </em>that of young people who were not in the program.</p><p>YAI is now in its second wave in five cities, testing whether the Ten Principles can be adapted to a lower-cost model. Clubs designed several new strategies, such as hiring assistants for teaching artists and focusing on lower-cost art forms, and initial results were promising. </p><p>Then COVID-19 changed everything. </p><p>“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on arts and culture and the education system at large,” Kimberly Olsen said in her presentation.&#160;According to Olsen, drastic budget cuts due to the pandemic have fallen disproportionately on arts education, impacting cultural organizations, their ability to serve students and also trickling down to&#160;their&#160;teaching artists. </p><p><strong>The Impact on Teaching Artists</strong></p><p>“Before the pandemic we knew that teaching artists were at risk,” Olsen said. According to a <a href="https&#58;//dataarts.smu.edu/artsresearch2014/articles/blog-white-papers/covid-19-impact-nonprofit-arts-and-culture-new-york-city">recent DataArts survey</a>, teaching artists have been laid off at high rates, with a 78% decrease in artist staffing at NYC-based organizations as of May 8; of the 5,000 teaching artists who responded to the survey, 96% have experienced a loss of income.</p><p>Amazingly, Ramos said, four of the five BGCA clubs have managed to keep all of their teaching artist staff. “We continued our funding of teaching artists and programs in our clubs regardless of whether they were opened or closed,” she explained. This enabled BGCA to launch a new program called “Creates” with a special website and tips on maximizing limited budgets, arts projects and program assessment.</p><p>Sadly, not all organizations have been as lucky. According to the same survey by SMU DataArts referenced above, over 25% of organizations stated that they have laid off or furloughed their staff and artist workforce, and 11% of organizations indicated that they do not think they will survive the COVID-19 crisis.</p><p>“Our city announced a draft budget that saw tremendous cuts to arts education funding that would not only jeopardize the city’s recovery process, but limit both school and cultural organizations’ capacity to serve and engage young people while disproportionately impacting these nonprofit cultural organizations as well as students from low income communities,” Olsen explained.</p><p>As a result, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable launched an efficacy campaign called <a href="https&#58;//nycaieroundtable.org/arts-are-essential/">Arts Are Essential</a>, with the goal of preserving arts education funding and investing in the community. “With all of this in mind, it&#160;means that organizations must be flexible,” Olsen said. “Flexibility means survival.”</p><p>Early lessons are emerging from BGCA’s new program as well. “Some downsides are clear – going online caused attention spans to be shorter, hours had to be reduced, fewer youth are joining, and as with regular school, lack of technology is a problem for some,” Ramos explained. “But there are some unexpected upsides like new opportunities to engage with parents; older youth have come in providing leadership roles, and youth are reporting that they feel more emotionally safe doing work at home.”</p><p><strong>Heading Toward Recovery</strong></p><p>According to Olsen, the arts and culture sector and teaching artists are going to play a huge part in the recovery of schools and communities. So how can philanthropy support artists who have been hit the hardest? </p><p>Given the very real threats to teaching artists and to arts learning programs overall, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable encourages philanthropy to take the following action steps&#58;<br></p><ul><li>Include teaching artists in conversations and decision-making processes as the arts sector is redefined </li><li>Invest resources in emergency funding to grant immediate direct-to-individual support for teaching artists to offset the disproportional financial impact </li><li>Ensure that funding language and programs include teaching artists</li><li>Examine longstanding siloed funding priorities</li><li>Ensure arts organizations that are being funded compensate teaching artists with fair wages<br></li></ul><p>Penn Hill Group’s Alex Nock added another way for organizations to take advantage of potential funding&#58; The <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/unpacking-the-federal-response-to-covid-19-in-education.aspx">Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act</a>. Its provisions include more than $30 billion for K-12 and higher education programs; more than $4 billion for early childhood education; and other supports such as forgivable loans to nonprofits, including many providers of afterschool or summer programs. It also expanded states’ ability to provide Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, including for gig economy workers and individuals like artists, who would not ordinarily be eligible. </p><p>Nock spoke about other important pieces of COVID relief that affect artists and the art world in general. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided flexibility and additional funding for state unemployment insurance agencies to respond to COVID-19. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act provided $319 billion to replenish the program created under the CARES Act, in&#160;which loans to small businesses and nonprofits&#160;may be forgiven if businesses maintain their payroll.&#160; </p><p>Looking ahead to next year, Nock said that&#160;the House had passed the majority of its 2021 appropriations bills in two packages, which included moderate increases, but said we can expect&#160;the&#160;appropriations to&#160;be wrapped up after the November&#160;election. He is hopeful that the next package of COVID federal funding will include more money for education.</p><p>Whatever happens with the funding going forward, Olsen emphasized that collaboration, flexibility and adaptation will help the sector survive and thrive.&#160;“While it’s been a hard time for the arts in education community, the field is resilient,” she said. “They’re creative, and they are driven to support their students in whatever way they can. We’re seeing opportunities and potential growing each day.”</p>Recent webinar discusses how teaching artists and cultural institutions are responding to COVID-19 and beyondGP0|#459b8438-9b87-47d0-814e-02452652da81;L0|#0459b8438-9b87-47d0-814e-02452652da81|arts;GTSet|#e1be52fb-ad26-4379-9818-fd44f616dcf2;GP0|#a6e8fc98-9e82-4f7e-836e-a902e32c91c6;L0|#0a6e8fc98-9e82-4f7e-836e-a902e32c91c6|arts organizations;GP0|#d12b494a-8c5d-4014-9866-51539e68ea50;L0|#0d12b494a-8c5d-4014-9866-51539e68ea50|COVID-19;GP0|#fedf430f-c658-4cbc-acad-5a5cf7177bd3;L0|#0fedf430f-c658-4cbc-acad-5a5cf7177bd3|digital;GP0|#88b77bae-56d6-47d9-922f-54af703d57b5;L0|#088b77bae-56d6-47d9-922f-54af703d57b5|learning;GP0|#91b78064-2e78-46f0-a504-d519fb4b02e9;L0|#091b78064-2e78-46f0-a504-d519fb4b02e9|Arts educationGP0|#d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8;L0|#0d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8|Arts Education;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61Wallace editorial team79<img alt="" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/blog-GIA-Webinar-lg-feature.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />2020-09-22T04:00:00ZRecent webinar discusses how teaching artists and cultural institutions are responding to COVID-19 and beyond9/22/2020 6:03:29 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Pandemic Brings challenges (and Opportunities) for Arts Education Recent webinar discusses how teaching artists and 361https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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