#tellEWA Member Stories (February 17-23)

Here’s what we’re reading by EWA members this week.

Public school enrollment fell by more than a million students since the pandemic’s early days. Contributing factors include declining birth rates, homeschooling, school choice programs and more, Jackie Valley reports for The Christian Science Monitor. These enrollment dips are causing districts to lose money and, perhaps, become less attractive to families: “A robustly funded public school system is going to be stronger and more appealing to families and serve kids better.”

The Boston Globe’s Christopher Huffaker investigates a local school district’s “unrealistically rosy prediction” that it will surpass 50,000 students in the next academic year. This inaccurate count is problematic because Boston Public Schools routinely bakes the high estimates into its budget and has benefited from the generous estimates. Learn what the district said after Huffaker asked about its unusual methods for predicting enrollment and allocating funding.

Working parents are navigating an after-school crisis: The hours between the end of the school day and the end of the traditional workday leave a gap millions struggle to fill. The problem is exacerbated by school staffing shortages and the fact thousands of districts don’t offer after-school programs. Reporting for Vox and an EWA Reporting Fellowship, Rachel M. Cohen details the impact of this unmet demand on students and shows what an adequately funded after-school program looks like.

Cyber criminals targeted the Los Angeles Unified School District last year: They hacked student mental health records and published them online. The records included personally identifiable information, yet the district didn’t notify students about the data breach. The 74’s Mark Keierleber reports on the school district’s lack of transparency, gaps in existing federal privacy laws and threats from cyber gangs.

Arizona residents voted to allow undocumented immigrants and DACA recipients to be eligible for in-state tuition and financial aid at state universities and community colleges. More than 3,600 undocumented students could benefit from the new law. Writing for palabra, Maritza L. Félix introduces readers to one of the organizers, José Patiño, who worked to get Proposition 308 on the ballot. This included finding allies in both political parties in the state. “You’re asking Republicans to put their careers on the line and commit, in many ways, political suicide.”

Some Michigan State University students lived through their second mass shooting after a gunman killed three and wounded five on the campus. This included some students who survived shootings at Oxford High School in the state and Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Reporting for the Detroit Free Press, Lily Altavena explains how gun violence, pandemic trauma and other threats are affecting young people.