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On Tuesday morning, Axios Cities Correspondent Kim Hart discussed the impact of COVID-19 on education and the workforce of the future with CEO & Chairman of Revolution and Co-founder of AOL Steve Case, Teach for America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Steve Case highlighted the economic inequities in the middle of the country, focusing on access to venture capital and opportunities for entrepreneurs.

  • On the responsibility of the country to support small businesses: "We have to focus on what has always been the job-creating sector of our economy, which are our startups. And there is not enough focus on that."
  • On brain drain in America: "Some of the smartest people grow up in the middle of the country. Some of our best universities are in the middle of the country...So the question as we move forward is how can we keep some of that talent in place, lower the brain drain and actually create a bit of a boomerang of people returning?"
  • On the geographic split in venture capital allocation: "We also need to address the capital issue. Last year 75% of venture capital went to just three states: California, New York and Massachusetts...If we want to create jobs everywhere, we want to level the playing field in terms of opportunity, give everybody a shot at the American dream."

Teach for America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard discussed investment in education, as well as how the crisis offers an opportunity to think bigger about addressing educational inequalities in America.

  • On looking beyond the crisis: "We don't want to go back to normal when it comes to education because there were lots of children being left behind in that education system. This is a moment where we can imagine something different for kids."
  • On the need for more investment: "We need a significant investment of funds in order to meet the need of the moment...looking at the last economic crisis, we had a $100 billion of $800 billion in stimulus dollars invested in education. That's four or five times less than in this global pandemic...The next relief and recovery packages that [Congress] is working on are critical as we look ahead."

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush addressed the need for a national plan around education, looking specifically at how existing gaps will be exacerbated by the pandemic.

  • On the need for a long-term strategy to address challenges presented by COVID-19: "A national strategy is necessary to make sure that every child has access to learning during these times because the virus will come back during this next school year. It's likely that many schools will adopt a strategy to have not all students come every day because of social distancing. And we should be far better, far ahead of the game than we are today."
  • How the crisis will intensify existing educational divides: "The skills gap will only get larger. The 'haves' will do better in the post-pandemic world for sure. The 'have-nots'? Not necessarily. And so this should be a time of reflection about how we can change not just our K-12 education, but lifelong learning to deal with these gaps."

Thank you to our partner Heartland Forward and our sponsor the Walton Family Foundation.

Go deeper

New Jersey governor allows schools to reopen for in-person learning

Gov. Phil Murphy in December 2019. Phoot: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced Wednesday he will sign an executive order allowing private and public K-12 schools and universities to reopen for in-person learning in September.

The big picture: New York and New Jersey have now authorized school districts to begin reopening. Both states and Connecticut ordered travelers from 31 states to quarantine before crossing their state borders after they were able to manage the pandemic.

Heat wave grips U.S. this week from coast to coast

Computer model projection from the GFS model showing an unusually hot airmass across the western and Central U.S. on Thursday, June 29, 2021. (Weatherbell.com)

A widespread heat wave has begun across the contiguous U.S., with at least 30 million people likely to see temperatures reach or exceed 100°F by the end of the week.

Why it matters: The hot weather, which comes courtesy of another heat dome building across the Southwest, Rockies and then sliding into the western Plains, will only aggravate drought conditions and worsen many of the western wildfires.

VA first federal agency to require COVID vaccines for employees

A medical doctor gives the thumbs-up sign to a COVID-19 patient who is no longer using a respirator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York City. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday it would require its frontline health care workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus within the next two months, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The VA is the first federal agency to mandate that employees receive the vaccine. The decision comes as cases of the Delta variant in the U.S. have increased dramatically.