Why so many kids are still missing school

“Some of the latest absenteeism data reveals the staggering impact the pandemic has had on student attendance.
Before the pandemic, during the 2015–16 school year, an estimated 7.3 million students were deemed “chronically absent,” meaning they had missed at least three weeks of school in an academic year. (According to the US Department of Education, there were 50.33 million K-12 students that year.) After the pandemic, the number of absent students has almost doubled.

Chronic absenteeism increased in every state where data was made public, and in Washington, DC, between the last pre-pandemic school year, 2018–19, and the 2021–22 school year, according to data from Future Ed, an education think tank. Locations with the highest increases saw their rates more than double.”

“Experts point to deeper issues, some that have long troubled students and schools and others that are only now apparent in the aftermath of school shutdowns.

“When you see these high levels of chronic absence, it’s a reflection that the positive conditions of learning that are essential for motivating kids to show up to school have been eroded,” said Hedy Chang, the founder and executive director of Attendance Works, an organization that tracks attendance data and helps states address chronic absenteeism. “It’s a sign that kids aren’t feeling physically and emotionally healthy and safe. Belonging, connection, and support — in addition to the academic challenge and engagement and investments in student and adult well-being — are all so crucial to positive conditions for learning.”

Despite increased attention to the topic, chronic absenteeism is not exactly new — until recently, it was considered a “hidden educational crisis.”

“This has been an ongoing issue and it didn’t just all of a sudden appear because the pandemic arose. Folks have been trying to address this issue for years,” said Joshua Childs, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies absenteeism interventions in communities and states. “It’s historically mainly impacted students from disadvantaged communities and underserved populations.”

What’s new about chronic absenteeism is that it now affects students from a variety of demographic backgrounds, from those in the suburbs and rural areas to those in cities.”

“The root causes of chronic absenteeism are vast. Poverty, illness, and a lack of child care and social services remain contributors to poor attendance, and some communities continue to struggle with transportation challenges; the pandemic has brought on a youth mental health crisis that has caused students to miss school; parents have reframed how they think about illness, ready to keep their children home at the slightest signs of sickness.”


How Congress is planning to lift 400,000 kids out of poverty

“Putting all the provisions together, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the deal will lift about 400,000 children out of poverty, and make another 3 million less poor, in its first year. By 2025, it will be keeping 500,000 children a year out of poverty. The Tax Policy Center finds that the bulk of the tax cut will go to families earning $20,000 to $40,000 a year, with most families in the bottom fifth of the income scale getting a tax cut. Because of the business tax cuts, the total package winds up concentrating its benefits at the bottom and at the very top of the income scale.

While nothing to sneeze at, this is a far cry from the roughly 3 million children that would been lifted out of poverty in 2022 if the 2021 expansion of the credit had been extended. It is a dramatically more modest step. It also takes as a given that the credit will not be available to families with zero earnings, a key disagreement between Democratic and Republican legislators on which the latter have shown no flexibility.”


The US House passes the bipartisan tax deal to expand the child tax credit. Up next: the Senate.

“Republicans are hoping to renew three business world deductions from the 2017 Trump tax cuts that have begun to phase out in recent years. Those provisions would allow companies to deduct more for things like research and development, equipment investments, and interest costs.
For the Democrats, the child tax credit would receive a new expansion that would allow poorer families greater access to the credit. One report from the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that 16 million children in lower-income households would benefit from the enhancement with a half a million of them lifted above the poverty line.

The deal includes a range of other provisions around issues like double taxation for companies that operate in Taiwan, additional assistance for disaster-struck communities; the costs of the bill would be paid for by implementing changes to a pandemic-era employee retention tax credit.

This bill — if enacted — would serve as a stopgap of sorts ahead of a tax debate in 2025, which will center around an array of provisions in the 2017 Trump tax cuts that are set to expire on Dec. 31, 2025.”


Millions of Kids Left Classrooms During the Pandemic. New Data Show 50,000 Hadn’t Returned 2 Years Later.

“According to a new analysis from the Associated Press, 50,000 children were still estimated to be “missing” from American classrooms in fall 2022—two years after the COVID-19 pandemic caused school enrollment numbers to plummet.
While the number actually indicates an improvement in school attendance—the A.P. found that an estimated 230,000 children were missing in fall 2021—it also shows that thousands of children have nonetheless experienced multiyear disruptions to their educations following COVID-era school closures.”

“According to the A.P., while exact causes are difficult to pinpoint, bureaucratic hurdles could be a major factor holding children back from returning to the classroom. Many school districts have stringent policies of unenrolling children after long absences, while others require onerous paperwork proving a child’s residency within the district or complicated medical requirements.

In Atlanta, for example, parents must provide eight separate documents to enroll their children in public schools, including a “complicated certificate evaluating a child’s dental health, vision, hearing and nutrition,” according to the A.P.

One mother of a seventh-grader with autism told the A.P. that she tried to enroll her son in their local public school as soon as the pandemic closures ended. However, she didn’t have reliable transportation and said she couldn’t find a nearby appointment to get him the required immunizations, causing her son to miss five months of school.

“He wasn’t in school, and no one cared,” she told the A.P.”


Canada is promoting child care for $10 a day

“A massive social policy experiment is unfolding in Canada to provide families throughout the country with child care for an average of $10 a day. The plan, which was introduced in 2021 amid the turmoil of the pandemic, aims to spend up to $30 billion Canadian by 2026 to bring down child care costs for parents and to create 250,000 new slots.
The federally backed effort brings Canada’s safety net closer to that of other Western democracies that have stepped up on child care, including Finland, Sweden, France, Germany, and Australia, and it could prove an inspiration to other countries whose systems still lag, like the United States.

Almost three years in, Canadian families are already seeing a significant drop in price, paying hundreds of dollars less for care each month than they were prior to 2021. Canada is making “solid progress in offering more affordable child care,” concluded a think tank report issued in October. Five of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories have already reached the $10-a-day child care goal ahead of schedule, while others have reduced their fees by over 50 percent. ($10 in Canadian currency is roughly $7.50 in US.)

In addition to reducing costs for parents, the plan has created about 52,000 new child care spots”


OxyContin’s Reformulation Linked to Rising Suicides by Children

“The root cause of such perverse effects was the substitution that occurred after the old version of OxyContin was retired. Nonmedical users turned to black-market alternatives that were more dangerous because their potency was highly variable and unpredictable—a hazard that was compounded by the emergence of illicit fentanyl as a heroin booster and substitute. The fallout from the reformulation of OxyContin is one example of a broader tendency: Interventions aimed at reducing the harm caused by substance abuse frequently have the opposite effect.
From 1988 to 2010, Powell notes in the journal Demography, the suicide rate among 10-to-17-year-olds fell by 36 percent. That drop was “followed by eight consecutive years of increases—resulting in an 83% increase in child suicide rates.” Based on interstate differences in nonmedical use of OxyContin prior to 2010, Powell estimates that “the reformulation of OxyContin can explain 49% of the rise in child suicides.”

Since “the evidence suggests that children’s illicit opioid use did not increase,” Powell says, it looks like “the illicit opioid crisis engendered higher suicide propensities by increasing suicidal risk factors for children,” such as child neglect and “alter[ed] household living arrangements.” He notes a prior study that found “states more
affected by reformulation experienced faster growth in rates of child physical abuse
and neglect starting in 2011.” And he suggests the suicide rate may also have been boosted by “parental death and incarceration” associated with the shift from legally produced pharmaceuticals to illicit drugs.”


Nearly 2 million kids have been kicked off Medicaid this year

“In the six months since states began double-checking the eligibility of people enrolled in their Medicaid programs for the first time in three years, more than 8.5 million Americans have lost their Medicaid benefits.
Based on enrollment numbers at the start of the year, that means roughly 1 in 10 people covered by Medicaid have lost their health insurance in a matter of months. After the US saw its uninsured rate hit historic lows during the pandemic, millions of the most vulnerable Americans are now falling off the rolls — with no assurance they will be able to find another form of coverage.

Worse, many of those losing coverage are losing it because of administrative hiccups and would otherwise be eligible — a problem that is disproportionately impacting children.

We won’t know until next year’s national insurance surveys how many people simply ended up uninsured and how many people successfully enrolled in another form of health coverage even as they lost their Medicaid benefits. But it is safe to expect that millions more Americans are now uninsured than were at the beginning of the year.

The health effects of this massive loss in health insurance will take years to be realized. But we know that having Medicaid means people are more likely to see a doctor and keep up with managing chronic conditions. The program helps people live longer. So losing coverage will make it even more difficult for a population that already struggles with its health to stay well.

Here’s why this is happening: During the pandemic, Congress approved an emergency provision that prevented almost anyone from losing their Medicaid coverage. Even if you had a change in income or life circumstances that in normal times would have led to you leaving the program, you were allowed to stay as long as that emergency policy was in place. But that provision expired earlier this year, part of the government standing down from its pandemic footing, and states were tasked with double-checking the eligibility of every person who was on their Medicaid rolls — a process referred to as unwinding. Starting in April, they could remove people who they found were no longer eligible.”


Hamas planned killing of young children, secret documents reveal

“Hamas terrorists targeted primary schools in order to kill babies and children or take them hostage, according to plans retrieved from the bodies of dead gunmen.
The documents, published by NBC News on Saturday, reveal that the terrorists were instructed to attack schools and a youth centre in the kibbutz of Kfar Sa’ad.”