August 5, 2022 | Lynn Schear
As back-to-school dates loom, K-12 education leaders are using their budgets to wipe the dust from the shelves and get back to in-person learning.
For marketers in the education industry, now is the time to get their products in the hearts and inboxes of school district leaders for greater sales opportunities.
Building Back from COVID
The days of full-time virtual classrooms might be over, but that doesn’t mean that schools have recovered from COVID-19.
Students have fallen behind on months, if not years, of learning. COVID’s devastating impact has been most strongly felt in historically disadvantaged schools, where many students have struggled to gain access to the virtual classroom due to socioeconomic factors, as shown by social determinants of health. Additionally, students and teachers alike are experiencing “Zoom fatigue,” which combines a lack of critical social interaction, screen-time burnout and a yearning for more personalized education.
Ultimately, this learning gap could result in fewer future college students and a massive financial loss, which makes it critical to our future that the education industry recovers. Fortunately, recovery government spending is expanding access and opportunities for education. These funds have already reduced child poverty and extended learning time through summer and after-school learning programs.
But there’s still more work to be done. So, what changes can the remaining budget fuel?
Education Spending Priorities for 2022-2023:
Investing in the Communities That Need It Most
Distance learning has impacted every child. But communities that lacked access to their limited classroom resources were most affected.
As a result, the federal government is responding to this crisis by investing $36.5 billion in Title I to help support 25 million students in historically disenfranchised schools. The money, traditionally used to fuel these children for the future, must now also be spent to help them catch up on lost learning of the past.
Teachers must use their limited time with students to focus on the lessons that matter most, and districts need to prioritize finding dedicated teachers who keep students engaged.
Meet the New Teacher’s Assistant: EdTech
Phasing out of the full-time virtual classroom isn’t the end of educational technology.
If anything, it’s just the beginning. Distance learning made principals and other education leaders realize the importance of accessible digital textbooks. Thanks to EdTech, it’s now easier for students to have tutoring sessions outside of class and for their parents to effectively communicate with school staff. Educational technology is also empowering teachers to more easily develop curricula and access important learning materials for greater retention.
Above all, EdTech is helping students thrive in an increasingly digital world. Teachers can set up their students for success by teaching them to code and giving them digital projects to improve their skillset and expand their knowledge.
The benefits of EdTech have made it all the more important to bring it to the historically disadvantaged schools that accrued the widest learning gaps during COVID-19. Grants, such as Apple’s ConnectED, are bringing tech to these schools in need. Though the initiatives have just begun, they’re already proven to increase student engagement and personalized education.
More than a Checkup: Prioritizing Student Mental Health
The mental health of students is in crisis. A survey conducted on K-12 students has revealed that 51% of students have felt stressed and that 39% feel symptoms of loneliness.
This raises alarms in more ways than one. Mental health struggles often damage physical health and lead to things like sleep loss and self-harm. It can also lead to a decreased ability to concentrate and, ultimately, lower grades.
The federal government is addressing this crisis by investing $1 billion to hire in-school counselors, social workers and other mental health professionals – an initiative that promises to help struggling students get back on the right path.
Lessons Outside the Books: Social-Emotional Learning
The results of test-focused education have come in. And surprisingly, they show that its goal hasn’t been entirely successful. The high test score expectations set up students without access to extracurricular learning for failure. It taught teachers to ignore lower-achieving students instead of addressing the roots of their issues.
The rush to better educate students in science and math resulted in educators neglecting to teach students important communication skills. Now districts are pivoting by investing in Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) – a groundbreaking method that teaches students to have empathy for themselves and others. The result? Not only are students happier, but they’re more motivated to learn and less likely to be disruptive or disassociated.
This sharpened focus on soft skills has led school leaders and districts to develop more curricula based on SEL as the benefit has shown to help students do more than simply make friends on the playground. Research indicates that SEL initiatives also improve academic performance and mental well-being.
New Year, New School: Updating Infrastructure
A refurbished school is a gateway that beckons students to their educational futures.
Many schools are using their budgets to give buildings and students the long-awaited support they’ve needed. In particular, leaders in the education industry are looking toward updating their HVAC facilities.
Updated ventilation systems do more than keep people comfortable. They keep out pollutants and reduce the risk of long-term building damage. And overall facility improvements offer up-to-date learning opportunities to help boost student pride and faculty commitment. Spending on infrastructure also prevents overspending in other areas while proving to be a prime factor in teacher recruitment and retention.
This infrastructure goes beyond the physical. The walls of the digital classroom need to be just as secure. These building projects come in the form of training teachers for the virtual classroom, access to quality education programs, and enhanced cybersecurity. Improving digital infrastructure makes the classroom a safe place even when students are outside its walls.
Making Schools Home for Everyone: Retaining Teaching Staff
Teachers and other education employees have trickled out of the classroom for decades. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned this trickle into a flood.
The staffing shortage is most painfully felt by students, especially those attending historically underfunded schools. Less staff means more students per educator. Overwhelmed teachers can’t give students the personalized education they need, leading to lower grades and dissatisfied students and parents. This situation also overwhelms already frustrated educators, resulting in more teachers leaving the industry and a worsening staffing crisis.
Thankfully, education leaders are addressing this crisis head-on. Five-hundred fourteen million dollars of the Department of Education’s budget is earmarked for teacher retention. This includes conducting research into recruiting methods and increasing support for current staff. The investment in quality education data can also put districts and school leaders in contact with thousands of teacher applicants looking to fill their vacant positions.
Education Data: The Building Blocks for the Schools of the Future
Analyzing school spending and district budget forecasts shows one thing: Educators can’t do this alone.
Schools and the wider community rely on each other to thrive. Education marketers must reach out and collaborate with industry leaders, decision-makers and education influencers to make a difference. Outside companies have the products that schools need. If one lends a hand, both can grow.
Education marketers have the products and tools schools need. And the right data can put district decision-makers and school leaders in contact with the educators who will use these products and services to help build better educational communities.
Introduce your product or service to decision-makers in the education industry with MCH Strategic Data. Our trusted, timely data gives you the tools you need to grow and nurture valuable opportunities. With weekly updates to our databases and 24/7 access to the highest-quality education data, we can help you find the right education leaders to help meet your business goals. Start building new strategies, reaching new prospects, engaging new buyers and researching new markets with MCH – everything you need to perform your next successful marketing campaign.
Ready to talk details? Connect with a Relationship Manager at 800-776-6373, try our ListBuilder tool or learn more about the what, why and how behind district budgets and the K-12 sales cycle.
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