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The U.S. education system is in crisis. Now’s the time to reinvent it

On August 17, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system in North Carolina was supposed to have its first day of all-remote learning for the 2020-2021 school year. Except the virtual platform that was designed to facilitate all lessons for the district’s nearly 150,000 students crashed.

On August 20, New York University issued an apology after out-of-state students, whom the school pledged to feed for 14 days as they quarantined, shared on TikTok that they were receiving rotten food—and sometimes no food at all.

On August 25, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that parents at the Florida county’s Pine View School have raised more than $70,000 to outfit their children’s classrooms with air purifiers, even as less wealthy schools remain stuck in outdated, unventilated buildings.

These are just a handful of the overwhelming number of stories coming out of our nation’s schools as the new school year kicks off. They paint a portrait of local districts and universities in disarray as they try to navigate reopening schools amid a global pandemic that has already claimed the lives of over 182,000 Americans. Some schools that have opened already have faced rising cases and been forced to move to remote learning; others are trying to implement a hybrid learning schedule where students come in only a few days a week. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis mandated that all schools reopen their brick-and-mortar buildings. The state then saw 9,000 new coronavirus cases for kids younger than 18 from August 9 to August 25. A judge issued a temporary injunction on the governor’s order last week. The New York City public school system, the largest in the country, is targeted to open on September 10, though some doubt it will. Perhaps the best word to describe this moment is chaos.

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