Public Schools' Challenges

September 23, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 32
Can they help students recover from pandemic losses?
By Alan Greenblatt


The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be an enormous challenge for schools and their students. Many schools shut down in-person classes for months, particularly in large cities and Democratic-led states. The result has been serious learning loss for many students, most notably among Black, Hispanic and low-income children. Washington has provided historic levels of financial support, but schools are struggling to hire enough teachers and other classroom personnel, while also trying to provide additional instruction to lift students up to grade level. Enrollment, attendance and graduation rates have all suffered. As a consequence, much of the public is dissatisfied with the quality of public schools. Many Republican-led states are expanding the use of taxpayer dollars to support children in private schools. They are also engaged in battles over cultural issues, including instruction about racial history, gender and sexuality. As the new academic year starts, some education experts wonder whether public schools will be able to return to prepandemic levels of enrollment, staffing and achievement.

Photo of third grader in Hooper Avenue School, Los Angeles, California, on June 23, 2021. (Getty Images/Los Angeles Times/Carolyn Cole)
Third grader Arnold Madris works on a lesson in his Los Angeles summer school in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic led to controversies over school masking requirements and shutdowns and caused significant drops in math and reading scores, especially among students of color. (Getty Images/Los Angeles Times/Carolyn Cole)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education Issues
Jan. 27, 2023  Deaths of Despair
Sep. 23, 2022  Public Schools' Challenges
Aug. 12, 2022  Parents' Rights
Apr. 01, 2022  Online Learning
Jan. 21, 2022  Teaching About Racism
Oct. 01, 2021  COVID-19 and Children
Jun. 11, 2021  Special Education
Jun. 21, 2019  Title IX and Campus Sexual Assault
May 17, 2019  School Safety
Feb. 02, 2018  Bullying and Cyberbullying
Feb. 03, 2017  Civic Education
Sep. 05, 2014  Race and Education
Jun. 13, 2014  Dropout Rate
May 09, 2014  School Discipline
Mar. 07, 2014  Home Schooling
Dec. 02, 2011  Digital Education
Nov. 15, 2011  Expanding Higher Education
Dec. 10, 2010  Preventing Bullying Updated
Apr. 16, 2010  Revising No Child Left Behind
Mar. 26, 2010  Teen Pregnancy
Sep. 04, 2009  Financial Literacy
Jun. 05, 2009  Student Rights
Feb. 22, 2008  Reading Crisis?
Jul. 13, 2007  Students Under Stress
Apr. 27, 2007  Fixing Urban Schools Updated
Nov. 10, 2006  Video Games Updated
Mar. 03, 2006  AP and IB Programs
Oct. 07, 2005  Academic Freedom
Aug. 26, 2005  Evaluating Head Start
May 27, 2005  No Child Left Behind
Jan. 17, 2003  Home Schooling Debate
Sep. 06, 2002  Teaching Math and Science
Jun. 07, 2002  Grade Inflation
Dec. 07, 2001  Distance Learning
Apr. 20, 2001  Testing in Schools
May 14, 1999  National Education Standards
Apr. 10, 1998  Liberal Arts Education
Jul. 26, 1996  Attack on Public Schools
May 17, 1996  Year-Round Schools
Oct. 20, 1995  Networking the Classroom
Sep. 22, 1995  High School Sports
Jan. 20, 1995  Parents and Schools
Sep. 09, 1994  Home Schooling
Mar. 25, 1994  Private Management of Public Schools
Mar. 11, 1994  Education Standards
Apr. 09, 1993  Head Start
Nov. 30, 1990  Conflict Over Multicultural Education
Feb. 05, 1988  Preschool: Too Much Too Soon?
Oct. 23, 1987  Education Reform
Aug. 24, 1984  Status of the Schools
Sep. 10, 1982  Schoolbook Controversies
Sep. 03, 1982  Post-Sputnik Education
Aug. 18, 1978  Competency Tests
Jan. 26, 1972  Public School Financing
Nov. 03, 1971  Education for Jobs
Apr. 15, 1970  Reform of Public Schools
Aug. 27, 1969  Discipline in Public Schools
Dec. 27, 1968  Community Control of Public Schools
Jun. 14, 1965  Summer School Innovations
Oct. 28, 1964  Education of Slum Children
Jun. 05, 1963  Year-Round School
Mar. 28, 1962  Mentally Retarded Children
Dec. 17, 1958  Educational Testing
Sep. 25, 1957  Liberal Education
Jul. 11, 1956  Educational Exchange
Feb. 02, 1955  Federal Aid for School Construction
Mar. 07, 1951  Education in an Extended Emergency
Nov. 20, 1945  Postwar Public Education
Nov. 07, 1941  Standards of Education
Congress Actions
Conservatism and Liberalism
Cost of Education and School Funding
Diversity Issues
Early Childhood Education
Education Policy
Education Standards and Testing
Elementary and Secondary Education
Federal Courts
General Employment and Labor
Infectious Diseases
Internet and Social Media
Online Education
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Private Schools and Home Schooling
Protest Movements
Research in Education
Student Movements
Students and Social Life
Supreme Court History and Decisions