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Ideas matter. In addition to our work with clients, Bellwether Education Partners generates and gathers ideas and policy solutions, analyzes ongoing reform efforts, and writes about and discusses education and education reform. We believe that the work we do to improve education for all students benefits from thought leadership, analysis, and thoughtful discourse around emerging ideas, in order to help challenge leaders and leading organizations to think differently and improve, to coordinate efforts where possible, to inform policymakers and improve the political and policy context, and to share successful approaches with the public education field at large.

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Calls for schools to end long-standing approaches—such as police officers on campuses, expulsions, and zero-tolerance policies—are a part of a broader call to divest from punitive systems. However, while divesting is an important part of interrupting punitive systems, so is the effort to make investments. Investing in Healthy Transitions to Adulthood: The Role of Schools, a new release from Bellwether, identifies key opportunities for schools to take on broader and more influential roles in the evolving conversation about policing, mass incarceration, and the movement for racial justice.

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The path to and through college is not easy or guaranteed, and COVID-19 has only exposed the faultlines along the journey. Reimagining the Road to Graduation, a new resource from Bellwether Education Partners, tells the stories of five students whose postsecondary plans were affected by the pandemic, and their efforts to stay on track.

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The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) includes $123 billion to K-12 education through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) and $39 billion for higher education through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). What’s in the law? How can schools use the funding? And will it be enough to address the gaps that COVID-19 exposed and exacerbated? Despite variation in local context, in many places, ARPA will represent a windfall of funding for education. This brief provides a look at the K-12 and higher education-related provisions of ARPA, as well as an overview of other ARPA provisions related to families and children, including childcare, food, housing, and income supports.

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Title image for Bellwether 2020 Annual Report

Bellwether was founded on the idea that schools must do dramatically more for Black, Hispanic, low-income, and other students historically denied access to opportunity in America — and for more than 10 years, clients have looked to us to provide thoughtful, non-ideological analysis and strategies that prioritize serving disadvantaged children. In Bellwether's 2020 annual report, we share a sampling of the projects, publications, and commentary that best highlight how we maintained our commitment to ensuring underserved students receive the education they deserve, during a challenging year for education and the world.

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In alignment with national trends, public discourse about the role of charters in Texas’s public school system can be contentious – and one primary point of contention has been around differences in public funding for Texas school districts versus charter schools. In "On a Path to Parity: Equity and Impact of Texas School Funding Policy for School Districts and Charter Schools," we look at the differences in public funding between Texas school districts and charter schools, and offer three considerations for policymakers seeking to further level the funding playing field.

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Young people who experience disruptive and traumatic events rely on our nation’s child-serving agencies for support to navigate their circumstances, heal from trauma, and return to school, work, and life as healthy and productive citizens. Unfortunately, too often our existing service agencies fall short of meeting the needs of these youth. As a result, students who experience a disruptive event in youth are more likely to experience homelessness, to have unplanned or unwanted pregnancies, and to end up in jail throughout their lifetimes.

"The Value of Harms Avoided: Calculating the Cost of a Fragmented System of Social Services" attempts to calculate both the cost of the current system across multiple disruptions that young people might face and the cost of a hypothetical system in which the first intervention works—allowing the individual to leverage support systems in the future at the rate and cost of a person who did not experience a disruptive event as a child. Based on our calculation, such a system could free up more than $1.5 trillion over the lifetimes of the cohort of youth currently served by care agencies.

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Work-based learning – including internships, youth and pre-apprenticeships, and cooperative education programs – allows students to gain work experience while in high school. "Working to Learn and Learning to Work" offers a state-by-state analysis of work-based learning policies.

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COVID-19 has presented new challenges for schools and families to grapple with when it comes to student learning — but the pandemic also has illuminated shortcomings and missed opportunities that have long been present in our education system. Now, nearly a year after schools across the country first shut down due to the pandemic —and as more communities eye the possibility of a return to full-time, in-person learning — a new series of briefs from Bellwether offers guidance on how the education sector can recenter and rebuild in the wake of COVID-19.

"From Pandemic to Progress: Eight Education Pathways for COVID-19 Recovery" puts forth a suite of ambitious but achievable pathways for education leaders and policymakers to follow to re-engage in complex policy questions and rebuild education as the country begins to emerge from the pandemic. Drawing on the breadth of Bellwether's unique expertise and diversity of viewpoints, this series offers a take on what we'll need in the years ahead to create a sector that can provide students with the high-quality education and supports they need and deserve to be successful.

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A series of interviews with school leaders who are guiding their schools through the COVID-19 pandemic. Three dynamic school leaders share lessons learned and promising practices they've discovered to help meet students' academic, social, and emotional needs.

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"Broader, Deeper, Fairer" – a new report in partnership between the National Head Start Association, The HeadStarter Network, and Bellwether –  offers five strategies for building a more equitable path towards employment in early childhood education.

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