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Don't want the hassles of Black Friday - consider a refurbished gift this year; day after Thanksgiving travel could be messy - and supporters regroup for recreational marijuana in South Dakota.


Big retailers predict an historic holiday shopping season, but small businesses are not sharing that optimism, and economists weigh in on what s behind the nation's labor shortages.


South Dakota foster kids find homes with Native families; a conservative group wants oil and gas reform; rural Pennsylvania residents object to planes flying above tree tops; and poetry debuts to celebrate the land.

Kick-Starting TX School Performance Amid COVID-19 Redux


Friday, August 20, 2021   

AUSTIN, Texas -- Starting the school year off on the right foot has probably never been more important as Texas kids return to classrooms.

New research found students are an average of four to five months behind in their learning due to the pandemic. It also showed the hardest-hit students include those living in poverty and children of color, who are, on average, five to seven months behind.

Travis Evans, Texas program specialist for Save the Children, said the pandemic has exacerbated disparities in education that have existed for years.

"Education achievement and attainment is strongly linked to a child's success," Evans reported. "And in the wake of COVID, Texas children, they need more support to begin the new school year."

Tests showed the COVID year led to pronounced shortfalls in reading and math skills for children in grades three through eight.

Shane Garver, associate vice president for rural education programs at Save the Children, encouraged consistent homework sessions and regular bedtime schedules to create a sense of normalcy the pandemic curtailed.

"Those healthy routines, healthy sleep patterns at night, and keeping that positive attitude as they're walking out the door each day," Garver outlined. "Believing in their kids and helping, encouraging them; that they have what it takes to get through that day and make the most of it."

Evans pointed out kids are just as concerned as parents about the ongoing pandemic and what it means for the future. To help kids feel more hopeful, he offered parents advice:

"To read, to read, to read," Evans emphasized. "A parent can just take about 20 minutes daily to just read a story, or read a magazine or something to the kid, just to help build their vocabulary, their imagination."

Evans added Save the Children supported at least 100,000 children across Texas in 2020 with school supplies, meals, tutoring and after-school programs.

Disclosure: Save the Children contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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