FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sat., Feb. 20, 2021
Reopening schools is a social justice issue, Lockwood says
“Polis must take action now to reopen Colorado schools”
DENVER, Colo.—Reopening schools is a social justice issue, says Jonathan Lockwood, a veteran Republican strategist who is vying to lead the Colorado Republican Party. He cites the recent study by Challenge Success, a Stanford University-affiliated school reform group. The study shows that failing to reopen schools is disproportionately hurting Black, Latino and female students, and overall is hurting students regardless of demographics.
Lockwood noted that the study’s findings came out as news broke that nearly half of Colorado’s teachers will stop teaching after this year. Teachers said they are frustrated by the failure to deliver the resources they and their students need to succeed. The survey of teachers said teachers listed unrealistic workload, potentially unsafe working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and low pay as reasons for quitting after this school year.
“Teachers and students in Colorado are suffering. We need to reopen schools, get teachers and students back into classrooms and give them the resources and support they need to get it done. Lives and livelihoods are on the line,” said Lockwood. “We cannot continue to see the blame game and excuses–failing our teachers and students is not just an academic nightmare. This is a humanitarian crisis.”
Key findings from the Challenge Success report include:
- 56% of students report that their stress about school has increased
- 63% of students who identify1 as females versus 48% of students who identify as males report an increase in school-related stress, as do 63% of students who identify as Black and Hispanic/Latinx versus 55% of students who identify as White
- Major sources of stress are: “grades, tests, and other assessments” followed by “overall workload,” “lack of sleep,” and “time management”
“I would do anything for things to go back to normal. My school is giving too much work even though times are tough for everyone. At first this was just a break from school, but now all I feel is stress, anxiety, and pain,” reported one student.
Other findings from the study include:
- 83% of students report having at least one stress- related physical health symptom, and that statistic is higher for females (92%) than for males (72%)
- Only 35% of students report they are quite or very confident in their ability to cope with stress. This percentage is even lower for females (24%) and Hispanic/Latinx students (31%)
- 59% report that their worries about college have increased
- 41% report a decrease in effort in school
- 42% report a decrease in engagement in learning
- 51% report that they spend more time on schoolwork
- 50% of students say the strength of their relationships with teachers has decreased
- 47% say the strength of their relationships with peers has decreased
- 41% say they never have a teacher or other school staff member ask how they are doing
- 28% of students believe that no teachers understand their life outside of school
- 26% of students believe that no teachers understand the challenges they are experiencing right now
“Because the school day has been shortened, teachers feel that it is okay to make the workload very large because it seems like we have more time. My more ‘essential’ classes give us 30-minute videos to learn concepts on our own, in addition to the nightly homework,” another student reported.
“To improve remote learning, our school could implement more emotional connections with teachers and other students. Especially check-ins on our mental and physical health. By understanding what is going on in our lives and what we’re going through, it would improve how much and what kind of work they give us. It would relieve a lot of stress,” added another student.
The damage that has already been done is alarming. Projections show, from a modest viewpoint, that students globally will see a future earnings gap of over $11,000 USD, per individual, or between $10 and $15 trillion as a cohort.
Well-being crises among children aged 5–11 and 12–17 years increased approximately 24% and 31%, respectively, last year. Suicide attempts have doubled. Pediatricians have cried out for leaders to take action and are sounding the alarms that data and science lag behind the reality of what’s happening.
“You aren’t following ‘data and science’ if you are not reopening schools,” Lockwood added.