2021 Condition of Education in the Commonwealth

January 2021

A year unlike any other, 2020 brought with it a global pandemic, rising political tensions, new movements for racial justice, and opportunities to reflect critically on the function and dysfunction of our societal systems. COVID-19 has exacerbated the inequities already present in our communities and highlighted the urgency of addressing these deep disparities.

While in the past we have highlighted reform strategies aimed at addressing racial inequities, we now realize that we cannot “improve” public education without addressing the underlying issues of systemic racism. Instead of promoting strategies for navigating an inherently inequitable system, we need to start thinking about dismantling and transforming that system itself. This year has brought us to a crossroads, and we know that when life goes back to “normal” after the pandemic, our schools can't go back to the status quo.

But schools can’t do this alone. Community-wide opportunities and challenges require community-wide solutions. 

The pandemic and school closures forced down the barriers between schools and communities. Integrating learning that takes place inside and outside of school has always been a powerful strategy to support student success, but it gained special relevance this year, as school closures made family and community members integral parts of students’ daily learning. Now, as we look to the future, how can we use those connections to create an education system that is more equitable and inclusive? This action guide looks at three key areas where schools and communities can continue to work together to transform education: holistic learning, shared leadership, and multiple pathways to careers.

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