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Progress Report: America’s Schools

The Supreme Court case that shaped US schools, the long shadow of Covid learning loss, the after-school care crisis, and the latest classroom culture war. Plus: What is homework for, anyway?

Everything that’s happening in a country eventually passes through the doorway of its schools — and so schools, like the rest of America, are going through a lot right now. An entire generation of students missed a year, even two, of normal education in the pandemic. As soon as they re-entered classrooms, what they were learning became the center of a relentless education culture war. All that is layered over the issues that have long plagued education in the US.

Where do all of those upheavals leave us? What lessons have the last few years taught the American education system – and what do we still need to learn?

In this issue of the Highlight, we take you inside some of the biggest issues in education. Schools are where the future is formed. What happens in them will matter for generations to come.

Libby Nelson (Policy Editor) and Ryan McCarthy (Editorial Director)

An illustration of a student wearing a backpack, trapped and tangled by the lines of a piece of ruled lined paper, which appear to have come to life around the struggling student. Gracia Lam for Vox

The other long Covid

The pandemic took young people’s present. What will it do to their future?

By Bryan Walsh

An illustration shows a worker bending over a laptop, sweat gushing from their brow. Worker and laptop are transposed over the face of a clock. The hours of 3 to 6 are cut from the clock face, and in their place is a kid with a backpack looking up at the worker. Gracia Lam for Vox

America’s afternoon afterthought

The hours between school dismissal and the end of the workday are a mess. They don’t have to be.

By Rachel M. Cohen

Illustration depicting the Supreme Court building resting atop a large dollar bill atop a school building. Jiayue Li for Vox

The racist idea that changed American education

A Supreme Court decision 50 years ago may have been shaped by the claim that poor children of color can’t learn. The case’s impact has reverberated for generations.

By Matt Barnum

Jiayue Li for Vox

Conservatives’ war on emotions in the classroom

Social-emotional learning has been a basic — and uncontroversial — part of education for decades. So why are conservatives waging a war against it?

By Fabiola Cineas

An illustration shows an open math workbook and a pencil writing numbers in it, while the previous page disintegrates and floats away. Jiayue Li for Vox

Nobody knows what the point of homework is

The homework wars are back.

By Jacob Sweet


Editors: Marina Bolotnikova, Ryan McCarthy, Libby Nelson, Elbert Ventura
Copy editors/fact-checkers: Elizabeth Crane, Kim Eggleston, Tanya Pai, Caitlin PenzeyMoog
Art direction: Dion Lee
Audience: Gabriela Fernandez, Shira Tarlo, Agnes Mazur
Production/project editors: Susannah Locke, Lauren Katz, Nathan Hall

Future Perfect

How the US is preparing to fight — and win — a war in space

Even Better

How to make your anger work for you

Future Perfect

We have treatments for opioid addiction that work. So why is the problem getting worse?

View all stories in The Highlight

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