Sunday Solutions – Nov. 13, 2022

We weathered a blood moon, midterm election and a late-season tropical storm last week. Let’s look beyond the election at a few issues begging for discussion, but we’ll start with a runoff-related item because voting is still everyone’s responsibility.

Credit: Jeffery Glover/The Current GA

Another overtime election

New state law moved elections runoffs closer to the original vote, and that means the runoff between US Sen. Raphael Warnock and challenger Herschel Walker will get turkey-sandwiched between Thanksgiving and holiday/year-end work. It’s fair to say the turnout numbers won’t likely match those for the Nov. 8 election just based on the new voting law’s required logistics and the four-week turnaround.

Pressing issue: Act swiftly if you need to request your absentee ballot, receive it, and then return it by mail in time to be counted. Nearly all of Coastal Georgia’s mail is routed from its drop point to Jacksonville, Fla., and back again for delivery, so the transport days pile up fast. You can start the process and request an absentee ballot online now. If you are in the area, consider picking up the request at your elections office, filling it out and dropping it off there instead of mailing it back.

Set your plan: Early voting won’t start until Monday, Nov. 28 — there is no mandatory Saturday voting, but counties may choose to do that. As of Saturday, no Coastal Georgia had posted plans for early voting precincts or any weekend hours. Stay tuned. We’ll post those for you as soon as we have them.

And, keep the process in mind: The county elections staffers are finishing up the state’s newly mandated risk-limiting vote audit, so they’ll be putting in more extra time that any of us. Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting has a thorough look at why the runoff is set up this way and how it will work.

thomas-park-online remote learning-unsplash
Credit: Thomas Park/Unsplash

Remote learning: Maybe not (whole) problem

New data continues to inform us about student learning during the pandemic. In a 29-state survey that accounts for nearly half of the nation’s students, researchers have found that losses in achievement weren’t primarily driven by remote learning. In fact, the inconsistency of the losses are causing experts to drill into many factors that include district poverty rates, COVID death rates, internet access, and parent job losses and how courses are structured overall.

“The pandemic was like a band of tornadoes, leaving devastating learning losses in some districts, while leaving many other districts untouched,” said Thomas Kane, a Harvard professor of education and economics who co-led the research. “But until now, that damage has been hard to see.” He said the research surprised him.

The researchers’ takeaways so far: State legislatures and local leaders must look to quickly fund and implement programs targeted to help students catch up and rethink the structure for remote learning for the future. Chalkbeat breaks down the study and what it says — and what it doesn’t.

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Help for uninsured kids to expire

Elections allow us to choose who will represent us in making policy for our present and future, and the fate of a Covid-era insurance program will be one for them to consider. Georgia continues to hold abysmal rankings for health care and access to it. Last week, in a story from GPB, we learned the state has the 4th highest number of children who have had no access to health insurance. A Covid-era temporary federal emergency order made it available to 176,000 children.

Research has long underscored that when children have access to health insurance coverage, their educational, economic and health outcomes improve. With the temporary coverage, more Georgia children were eligible for primary and preventive care, taking pressure off emergency rooms. When the order expires in January, that insurance evaporates.

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Credit: Santi Vedri/Unsplash

Your second cup: Early screening for disabilities

Approximately 60% of adults who struggle to read and write have either undetected or untreated learning disabilities. Experts estimate 30% to 60% of detained or incarcerated youth have a disability that wasn’t flagged early. Two researchers now want to make screening for these challenges part of regular pediatric care for all children. Youthcast Media Group, made up of high school journalists, produced this story talking to one man about how that diagnosis would’ve made a difference in his life. Meet Frank Pinckney.

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What happens next in Georgia’s election runoff? Certification, an audit and sprint to Dec. 6 vote

The month of November will be busy for Georgia voters and elections officials as the state transitions from the Nov. 8 general election to prepare for the Dec. 6 runoff for U.S. Senate. This story also appeared in Georgia Public Broadcasting Even though election results are known, there are still ballots left to be counted, […]

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Remote learning not ‘primary’ driver of academic losses, new analysis suggests

The team relied on testing data for 29 states, spanning around 4,000 school districts that serve some 12 million students in third to eighth grades — or around half of the U.S. student population for those age groups.

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Georgia has one of the highest rates of uninsured children. It’s about to get worse, study says

Georgia’s one of six states nationwide at the greatest risk of having children lose their health insurance once federal protections end — and it performs poorly when compared to other states in the Deep South.

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Early screening for learning disabilities ‘would make a huge difference’

Children from low-income families often left out of screening for trauma, learning disabilities. 60% of adults who struggle to read and write have undetected or untreated learning disabilities.

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Elections results for Nov. 8, 2022, midterm elections for Georgia.

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This information compiled by and reported by The Current's staff. We use this credit line when information requires aggregation, compilation or organization from various staff and/or official sources.