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This weekend we're posting four mini-episodes of the Axios Re:Cap podcast, focused on the unique challenges of back-to-school in 2020. This one digs into the strains on special education.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 17, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on America's education inequities

On Tuesday, November 17, Axios' Sara Kehaulani Goo, Erica Pandey, and Courtenay Brown hosted a conversation on unequal opportunity and systemic racism in schools, featuring Northern California Indian Development Council Indigenous Education Advocate Rain Marshall, National Education Association President Becky Pringle and EdBuild CEO Rebecca Sibilia.

Becky Pringle discussed racial inequity in the education system, highlighting a lack of funding and accessible resources for students of color, as well as the need for congressional action around students' access to virtual education.

  • On the stark challenges of digital access: "60 million students did not have access to virtual learning in the spring...It is now November and those students still do not have that access. We are working with our educators and with communities, with our families or our partners to demand that the Senate act."

Rebecca Sibilia unpacked how school district lines can reinforce existing racial and economic divides, and discussed the possibility of making school districts larger to better distribute resources to students.

  • On growing wealth inequality and its impact on education: "[The] school district line becomes incredibly important in determining which students go to which schools and how well resourced they are. Because we fund schools primarily based on property taxes, the state tries to equalize for differences in the fundamental wealth of communities, but they just can't keep up."

Rain Marshall discussed the legacies of colonization on Indigenous students and the impact of those narrative being left out of school curricula.

  • On the classroom experience of Indigenous students: "You have a curriculum that doesn't reflect the population of Indigenous students...You have these leftover legacies in the school system and implicit bias where teachers just aren't aware that [this] erasure is harmful."

Axios' VP of Events Kristin Burkhalter hosted a View from the Top segment with President of Paul Quinn College Dr. Michael Sorrell and discussed the impact of poverty on students, and how to rethink the American education system.

  • On increasing accessibility to higher education: "People need are easier on and off ramps into higher education...The idea that what you study when you're 20, 21, 22 years old is going to be with you for the rest of your life and you won't need to make adjustments is just not realistic."

This event was the second in a yearlong series called Hard Truths, where we'll be discussing the wide ranging impact of systemic racism in America. Read our deep dive on race and education here and check out the series page here.

Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this event.

CDC: Vaccinated people in COVID hotspots should resume wearing masks

CDC director Rochelle Walensky and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci at a Senate HELP committee hearing. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances.

Why it matters: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. — either by choice or who are ineligible — remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection.

Scoop: 50,000 migrants released; few report to ICE

A law enforcement officer walks to meet migrants crossed the Rio Grande River illegally last month. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have shown up so far, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The sizable numbers are a sign of just how overwhelmed some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be: A single stretch covering the Rio Grande Valley had 20,000 apprehensions in a week. The figures also show the shortcomings of recent emergency decisions to release migrants.