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Three Lessons Learned from 2021

Dec 10, 2021

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Three Lessons Learned from 2021

We don’t know when the pandemic will end, but we know students will be dealing with its aftermath for years to come. Reflecting on the last year, it’s clear that the pandemic brought lasting and major academic challenges that our city’s kids and schools will be facing for quite some time. 

Taking what we learned from 2021, we urge concerned Houstonians to consider the following actionable steps to prioritize kids and their ability to learn after such a significant disruption to their education.

houston students learning in class during the pandemic

In-Person Learning Matters

In-person learning is crucial to the success of students. It can’t be understated that every student in the city needs to be back in the classroom in order to access high-quality learning, and although young people are coping with family losses and disruption to employment or housing, education must remain a top priority for every child in every neighborhood. Most urgently, Houstonians must focus on getting kids safely back to school and do everything in our power to ensure they attend every day.

Teachers Are Essential

Most districts started the school year with record teacher vacancies, and months into the academic year, there are still large numbers of open teaching jobs across the city. Teachers are an important part of their students’ educational experience, and studies even show the impacts of representation among educators. An often-cited study from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows Black students who have at least one teacher of their race both reduces high school dropout rates and increases their chances of college enrollment. The learnings are clear – in order to reach all students and meet their unique needs, Houstonians can encourage friends, family, and colleagues to consider teaching and/or seek the certifications for yourself.

Historic Funding Can Fuel Bold Action

As schools work toward helping students recover from almost two years of disrupted learning, districts across the city have access to millions of dollars in state and federal funds to support their efforts. We have identified best practices and recommendations to spend those dollars to accelerate learning recovery. It is critical that school districts also leverage existing state resources, such as the Teacher Incentive Allotment, to draw down additional state dollars.

As we close out 2021, Good Reason Houston remains committed to improving outcomes for every child in every neighborhood across Houston. And as we look toward 2022, we believe every concerned citizen in Houston should use their voice to hold school board members and school leaders accountable to action that will lead to meaningful solutions to meet students’ unique needs. All 514,000 public school students in our great city are counting on us to do something about struggling schools. This doesn’t have to be the reality, and we hope more Houstonians join us in the fight.