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School Days or School Daze??

School Days or School Daze??

March 08, 2023

Chuck Berry released the song “School Days” also known as “Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell” in March 1957 on his album After School Session. It is one of his more popular and better-known songs. The last verse of this song includes the lyrics, “Hail, hail, rock ‘n’ roll/Deliver me from the days of old”.  A YouTube link to the song is included below.


Chuck Berry was nicknamed the father of rock ‘n’ roll. He incorporated major elements of rhythm and blues into rock ‘n’ roll and wrote such classics as Maybelline, Roll Over Beethoven, Rock And Roll Music, and Johnny B. Goode (which I have been known to sing from time to time via karaoke or with bar bands in Italy. That’s a story for another day). John Lennon once said, “If you had to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you would call it Chuck Berry”.

School days have taken on a whole different look and feel since the onset of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic which, in the state of Ohio, shut down schools on Friday, March 13, 2020…. “two weeks to bend the curve”. This resulted in students and teachers having to adapt to remote and distance learning. Because school policies are handled at the local level, this was felt very differently from state to state, county to county, and even district to district.

A recent study showed how our pandemic response, no matter how well-intentioned, has impacted students. Recent test results, compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics show that fourth graders regressed to their lowest reading and math proficiency scores in many years, as you can see in the chart below.

Sources: NCES, Stanford University, and AP

On the local level, I serve on the board of trustees for United Way Summit Medina. Most United Way chapters across the country act as clearing houses by collecting money and then distributing it to designated charities. However, our local chapter did a community needs assessment and created four Bold Goals. We are raising money here at home and distributing it to local nonprofits to help impact our communities for the better. There are only a few United Way chapters across the country that use this model.


Bold Goal Number One is to increase the percentage of third graders in Akron Public Schools (APS) reading on grade level. Third grade reading proficiency is extraordinarily important. It has been said that third grade is the last year that students learn to read. After that, they are reading to learn. This means that if they have not mastered reading by the time they enter fourth grade, they risk falling behind due to not being able to understand their science, social studies, history, and other assignments. This has far-reaching implications for student dropout rates and success, or lack thereof, in future endeavors and career paths.

Unfortunately, the impact of the COVID lockdowns has hit local students in a similar manner to what we see in the national charts and studies above. In 2017, approximately 35% of all third graders in APS were reading on grade level. By the end of the 2019 school year, this had risen to more than 50%. Unfortunately, after nearly two years of lockdowns and online classes, this measurement fell below our initial starting point. We are now working hard to help the students find their way back. 

Additionally, according to a study of data from 21 states performed by Stanford University and the Associated Press, there are many students who have not returned to the classroom post-pandemic. In these 21 states alone, it is estimated that 240,000 children are educationally missing. Extrapolating this sample nationally leads to estimates that more than 500,000 young people’s education has been put on hold

Sources: NCES, Stanford University, and AP

This is also a global problem. A recent study by the World Economic Forum shows that contrary to the United States, a number of schools and countries across the globe have still not reopened to their regular, in-person classes since the onset of the pandemic.

All of this could have enormous economic and financial implications, both now, and in the future. We know that there will be demands for additional funding to help students regain the learning that was lost. We also know that a drop in educational achievement due to the pandemic could potentially impact college and career readiness. This will likely add to educational and economic inequality that already exists.

Chuck Berry sang about the stress of “School Days” in the late 50s. The early 2020s pandemic response led many more students to be “School Dazed”. This was much more difficult and could have many longer-lasting impacts on our society. We wanted to remind you of what this could mean to our country and our economy in the future as we continue “Moving Life Forward”.

© 2023 Jesse Hurst

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