How Will the Coronavirus Shape 21st Century Education in Texas?

The coronavirus has upended Texans’ lives in too many ways to count. One is in where and how Texas children are taught.

It’s estimated that roughly 1 billion children around the world have had their education disrupted by the virus. Here in Texas, it’s no different, as school districts across the state work with their teachers, students, parents and communities to determine how to continue or resume learning.

While we like to build on lessons of the past, this virus is new. Past actions to address hurricanes, tornadoes and other calamities can hint at possible responses, but we clearly face an unpredictable future right now.

Emerging from this crisis will mean solving new challenges and identifying opportunities to innovate. We are a data driven organization, and the coronavirus pandemic raises big questions with serious implications for Texas’ future: How will we know children are learning the basics of reading and math if they aren’t in school? Are they being taught skills that future jobs will require? How can we apply limited state and local resources to create the most impact?

In the coming days and weeks, we’ll post items to this blog that raise questions and explore challenges about the impact of coronavirus on Texas’ school system, its workforce readiness, and its future prosperity. We’ll explore how the choices we make today will shape our state’s outlook now and in the future.

Texans need far-sighted thinking, as well as short-term action, to protect students’ long-term prospects and our state’s hope for a future strong economy.

In coming months, Texas 2036 will focus on different ways to identify what students are learning — and where they’re in danger of falling behind. We’ll consider new technologies and options for overcoming unequal access, so that inequities are not magnified during this crisis.

We’ll also explore how Texas can best use a variety of potential resources, from precious budget dollars to the summer break to public broadcasting stations. Texans are known for their grit, determination and willingness to solve challenges — there’s every reason to be optimistic that we will overcome this one.

Texas 2036 was created to focus on the future. We want to help the state prepare for the needs and challenges that will come with the nearly 10 million people who are expected to move here by the time the state turns 200 in 16 years.

The coronavirus is now a fundamental part of that future. We need to talk about it.