One of the difficult things with education is our reliance on a “one size fits all” model. We have for years been reinforcing the model of education in a didactic form, but that stopped working long ago. The students in today’s classroom are more knowledgeable and experienced at a younger age than ever before.

 One of the solutions proposed has been a flipped classroom, but that is not as exciting as it used to be now that some of the problems have become more apparent.

So what is the next wave of possible improvements? The White House is still beating the drum for High Dosage Tutoring, something that has proven positive impacts on learning, but that is also very hard to implement effectively, and hard to replicate at different schools. Also many of the companies which claim to do high dosage tutoring have been found to have limited student engagement. Paper Tutoring was possibly most guilty of overselling how much they were able to help the students, especially because only the already motivated students really engaged in the platform. Motivated students will always find a way to learn. What we need to figure out is how to engage the unmotivated students.

What is the disconnect here? Why are we failing to help our struggling students? The first thing to remember is that our standards are much higher than they used to be. Students aren’t learning less now than they were in the 80’s, they are learning more and performing better. COVID did lead to a lot of learning loss, NAEP scores proved that, but complaints about how broken our school system is ignore some real gains

So the government is correct about tutoring but wrong about methods.Technology is not going to solve this problem.  One on one tutoring is one of the few proven methods to increase engagement and learning for struggling students.  In that case, should tutoring become a more standard part of K-12 education? And how do we make it happen?

The easy answer is funding. High-dosage tutoring is basically just several hours more school each day. It doesn’t require credentialed teachers (although some tutoring services provide them), but it still requires someone who is good with children and the subjects to spend several hours a day tutoring, usually at a ratio of 3 students to 1 tutor or lower. Funding this kind of tutoring could close the learning loss gap and help our struggling students do better in the future.

And the obvious, and difficult fact is that this is most important in school districts that already struggle with funding. Areas of the country with budgets that already struggle to pay teachers are not going to have the funding to pay tutors to effectively tutor. And the states are often not able to allocate more money to schools.

The tragic and seemingly impossible solution again comes back to congress. While the Whitehouse may want more high dosage tutoring, the funding will likely have to come from the federal government. I know this is preaching to the choir, but this is one more reason why voting matters. And the vote this November, both for president and for Senators and Representatives, is so important for education. 

Across the spectrum, a lot of educational impacts will come out of the election in a few months. Find and donate to Democrats (especially ones with a record on education) who are running in contested districts.

A few that seem promising are:

But there are several more primaries in the next several months which will clarify the candidates going up against Republicans in November. Pressing to get a majority in the House will be the only way we have a chance of getting some real funding for tutoring or teachers in general. And while you can never trust that a politician will do what they promised, you can certainly trust that Republicans as a whole have no interest in increasing funding to education in general.

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