Beyond reopening schools: How education can emerge stronger than before COVID-19

What may be possible for education on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic? It is hard to imagine there will be another moment in history when the central role of education in the economic, social, and political prosperity and stability of nations is so obvious and well understood by the general population. Now is the time to chart a vision for how education can emerge stronger from this global crisis than ever before and propose a path for capitalizing on education’s newfound support in virtually every community across the globe.

It is in this spirit that Brookings has developed a report titled Beyond Reopening Schools: How Education Can Emerge Stronger than Before COVID-19. The intent of the report is to start a dialogue about what could be achieved in the medium to long term if leaders around the world took seriously the public’s demand for safe, quality schools for their children. Ultimately, the authors argue that strong and inclusive public education systems are essential to the short- and long-term recovery of society and that there is an opportunity to leapfrog toward powered-up schools.

A powered-up school could be one that puts a strong public school at the center of a community and leverages the most effective partnerships, including those that have emerged during COVID-19, to help learners grow and develop a broad range of competencies and skills in and out of school.

Researchers propose five actions to guide the transformation of education systems after the pandemic:

  1. Leverage public schools: Put public schools at the center of education systems given their essential role in equalizing opportunity across dimensions within society.
  2. A laser focus on the instructional core: Emphasize the instructional core, the heart of the teaching and learning process.
  3. Harness education technology: Deploy education technology to power up schools long term in a way that meets the teaching and learning needs of students and educators; otherwise, technology risks becoming a costly distraction.
  4. Parent engagement: Forge stronger, more trusting relationships between parents and teachers.
  5. An iterative approach: Embrace the principles of improvement science required to evaluate, course correct, document, and scale new approaches that can help power up schools over time.

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