Mr. Hughes-Giard said the university is trying to instill a sense of belonging, by staging events and creating places to relax. But for the students who are the most behind, she worries that the pandemic’s effects are not going away soon. Even today, they often have other burdens, like working extra jobs to feed themselves and support their families.

“We’re always trying to slim that gap,” she said. “But it feels like we hit the wide open mouth of the river again.”

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Who Is the Man Accused of Attacking Nancy Pelosi’s Husband?

“Who attacks people in their 80s?” she said. “That’s just the epitome of cruelty.”

Inti Gonzalez, who said she considered Mr. DePape a father figure because her mother had a relationship with him when she was growing up, said in a blog post on her website and on her Facebook page that Mr. DePape was someone who wanted to have his voice heard, “but the monster in him was always too strong for him to be safe to be around.”

On her blog, Ms. Gonzalez said that her mother, Oxane “Gypsy” Taub, met Mr. DePape when she was pregnant with Ms. Gonzalez. Their romantic relationship lasted only a few years, but Mr. DePape stayed around longer to take care of Ms. Gonzalez and her two younger brothers, until leaving eight years ago, when she was 13, Ms. Gonzalez said.

“There is some part of him that is a good person even though he has been very consumed by darkness,” she wrote.

Ms. Taub garnered public attention in 2012 when she spoke out against a ban on nudity proposed by Scott Wiener, the San Francisco supervisor, culminating in a 2013 nude wedding at San Francisco City Hall. Mr. DePape, a fatherly influence on Ms. Taub’s three children, planned to serve as a best man at the wedding, SFGate reported at the time.

A 2015 SF Weekly profile of Ms. Taub described her as “a seasoned 9/11 truther, aficionado of psychedelics, and sexual free spirit.” In 2021, Ms. Taub, 53, was found guilty by a jury of charges including stalking and attempted child abduction. She is incarcerated at the California Institution for Women.

On Friday, Ms. Taub’s home in Berkeley, a large Victorian-style duplex, appeared run-down, with abandoned cars in the driveway and stuffed animals hanging in the trees in the front yard. Two teenage boys appeared to live there, one of whom spoke with F.B.I. officials as a crowd of reporters looked on.

A neighbor, Ryan La Coste, 35, said that Mr. DePape had been a semi-frequent visitor to the house and continued to stop by after Ms. Taub was incarcerated.

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An ‘Army’ of Volunteer Sleuths Are Out Hunting for Your Stolen Car

The hunt for missing vehicles has become a second job for Mr. Crawford, who sells trucks for a living and has a deep familiarity with vehicle brands and styles from years in auto sales.

On a recent day off, Mr. Crawford was at his computer by 7 a.m., downing coffee as he reviewed emails and Facebook messages, using an online database of vehicle history reports to check vehicle identification numbers that users had shared of vehicles that seemed out of place — some with torn-out interiors, damaged ignitions or that were otherwise seemingly abandoned.

Later in the morning, Mr. Crawford got in his red pickup, which was leaking coolant from some deferred maintenance and sporting scratch marks down the side from a vehicle recovery mission that had taken him deep into the woods. He rolled down his windows, tuning in to the happenings around him and scouring side streets.

At one point, he pulled behind a Toyota SUV that was emitting an unusual buzzing noise.

“The anthem of Portland: no catalytic converter,” he said, sipping a can of Red Bull.

Minutes later, Mr. Crawford pulled up at the scene of a vehicle in northeast Portland that had been reported by neighbors, a car with no plates and a partially gutted interior. He checked the VIN, found it had recently been reported as stolen and notified the police.

He spent the rest of the day roaming through neighborhoods, capturing videos of cars that seemed out of place so he could check the license plates later. Many stolen cars that can still be recovered end up resurfacing in industrial neighborhoods, at auto supply stores, in parks or shopping centers, he said.

Homeless encampments are also a common spot, Mr. Crawford said as he cruised past one of them, taking care not to bother residents. He said some homeless neighbors have joined the group to help find cars. At the encampments, he overlooks any other minor misdeeds he may encounter.

“My only interest is stolen vehicles,” he said. “They can do whatever they want. Just don’t bother me. And don’t drive stolen cars.”

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Months After the Floods, Eastern Kentucky Families Take Measure of What Was Lost

With hundreds of houses damaged or even washed away, a question looms in parts of the region: How many families who persevered there for generations will now leave for good?

LOST CREEK, Ky. — On the night of the flash floods, Vanessa Baker was last seen on her front porch, the place where cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents would gather in the evenings after supper, talking as twilight settled into the hollow.

But on that terrifying night in late July, the porch was suddenly looking out on a ravenous sea. Ms. Baker, a 60-year-old school secretary, was clutching the hands of her husband and brother-in-law when they were pulled under the dark floodwaters. Three months later, the official list of the missing, once running to the hundreds, has been whittled to only her name.

“We’ve held out hope and held out hope,” said one of Ms. Baker’s nephews, Anthony Mullins, 40, the pastor of a nearby church. But he knew how long it had been.

The accounting of all that has been lost in the hollows and valleys of eastern Kentucky since that last week of July, when torrential rains turned quiet creeks into raging rivers in a matter of minutes, runs on and on.

people should keep flocking to new beachfront homes or subdivisions in seaside boom towns. But the floods in Kentucky poured into valleys where families had lived for generations, places that fueled the country’s growth when the coal mines were going strong but have since been largely left behind. And the looming question is how many of those who had persevered here will now decide to leave for good, with no one coming to replace them.

the local museum has been giving out hundreds of quilts as part of a regionwide effort.

But the plan for most of those who remain in Lost Creek is what it has always been, which is to rely on kin. Pastor Mullins said that his uncle, Ms. Baker’s husband, was living with one of his sons in Hazard, Ky., about 15 miles away. He was hoping to find a home somewhere nearby, Pastor Mullins said, but nobody who was on the porch with Ms. Baker on the night of the floods was planning to return to that clearing in the hollow where family members had lived side by side for generations.

“That part of the community is gone,” Pastor Mullins said.

A few miles away, in the shadow of an old drive-in movie screen, Dot Prater is living in a pop-up camper right next to her flood-damaged home.

She believes that a lot of people who left the area after the floods might never return, “afraid that the water will come back.” And even many of those who do stay in the mountains will now be scattered, evicted by the floods from places where they had long lived and thought they always would. Ms. Prater, 70, insisted she would not be satisfied anywhere other than Lost Creek. “That’s home to me,” she said.

But still, it is not quite the same.

“I picked up my granddaughter the other day,” Ms. Prater said, “and I said to her, ‘Ah, things look so strange now, don’t it, honey?’”

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Uvalde Families Call for Resignation of Top Texas Police Official

HOUSTON — At a somber and occasionally emotional oversight hearing, the director of the Texas state police faced pressure on Thursday to resign over his agency’s role in the delayed police response to the Uvalde school shooting and its handling of the subsequent investigation.

Relatives of two of the children killed during the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School directly addressed the state police director, Steven McCraw, from a lectern that included a box of tissues, accusing him of creating more pain and hurt in Uvalde and urging him to step down.

“You, sir, have told lies,” said Brett Cross, who raised his nephew, Uziyah Garcia, 10, like a son until the boy was killed in a classroom at the school. “You’re not in control of your officers, nor are you the leader this great state deserves at the helm of what was once known as one of the best law enforcement agencies.”

Mr. McCraw, in his remarks, said that he would resign if it were shown that his agency, the Department of Public Safety, had “as an institution” failed in its handling of the shooting, something he said had not yet happened. (He had previously promised to step down if there was “any culpability” in his agency.)

served with termination papers last week. Another, Ranger Chris Kindell, has been suspended, a department spokesman said.

Calls for Mr. McCraw’s resignation on Thursday came from both inside the hearing room where the Public Safety Commission met in Austin, and from politicians outside.

“McCraw should do the right thing — resign,” Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, said on Twitter. Representative Tony Gonzales, a Republican whose district includes Uvalde, said Mr. McCraw should do so “immediately.”

fired by the school district over the summer. The district later suspended the rest of the school Police Department amid protests by Mr. Cross and others, and after it was revealed that a new campus security officer hired by the district was a former state police officer who was under investigation for her actions during the shooting. The police lieutenant who was the city of Uvalde’s acting chief during the shooting was put on administrative leave. The school superintendent also announced his intention to resign.

The Department of Public Safety has said that 91 of its officers responded to the elementary school on May 24, part of a response that included hundreds of local, state and federal officers. Sergeant Maldonado arrived with the first contingent of officers from the city and school Police Departments. Body camera footage released so far has shown him hanging back at a doorway, not entering the building.

Other footage from later in the response showed Ranger Kindell inside the school conferring with Border Patrol agents who would later lead the team that confronted the gunman. Even after hearing additional gunfire inside the classrooms, the team did not go in for nearly 30 more minutes.

Mr. McCraw said on Thursday that the Texas Rangers, a division of his agency that has been leading the state’s investigation into the shooting, would be finishing its work before the end of the year and sending the results to the local district attorney. He suggested that officers could face charges for their roles in the case, depending on what the investigation showed.

“The district attorney is going to review every officer in that hallway for criminal culpability,” he said.

He said the ultimate decision on charges could stretch longer than two months in part because the autopsies of the victims had not been completed. “That’s critical to this thing,” Mr. McCraw said. “The question is how many kids did die in that room, or teachers died, because they missed that magic hour,” when medical intervention could have saved them, he said.

After speaking for about 13 minutes, Mr. McCraw invited the victims’ relatives and others who had already spoken to respond to him.

Mr. Cross jumped up. “You said that you would resign if there was any culpability,” he said.

“If D.P.S. as an institution failed the city of Uvalde, I would be glad to,” Mr. McCraw said.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like you’re going to do that because you keep talking in circles,” Mr. Cross said. “I lost my damn son. Your anger is not going to match mine, man.”

He then pressed him further.

“Are you a man of your word?”


“Then resign.”

“Thank you,” Mr. McCraw replied.

Mr. Gutierrez then returned to the microphone to directly address Mr. McCraw. Referring to videos from the shooting that he was able to review as a legislator, Mr. Gutierrez said that a critical moment came when a tactical officer from Border Patrol arrived and said he had a Border Patrol Tactical Unit that was headed toward Uvalde, 45 minutes away.

“That turned into this: We’re waiting on BORTAC. We’re waiting for a federal agency that doesn’t have jurisdiction to come in and do our jobs,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “That’s what happened on that day and you know it.”

“I don’t disagree with that characterization,” Mr. McCraw said. “And I’ll tell you this: It was an abject failure.”

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Texas Goes Permitless on Guns, and Police Face an Armed Public

HOUSTON — Tony Earls hung his head before a row of television cameras, staring down, his life upended. Days before, Mr. Earls had pulled out his handgun and opened fire, hoping to strike a man who had just robbed him and his wife at an A.T.M. in Houston.

Instead, he struck Arlene Alvarez, a 9-year-old girl seated in a passing pickup, killing her.

“Is Mr. Earls licensed to carry?” a reporter asked during the February news conference, in which his lawyer spoke for him.

He didn’t need one, the lawyer replied. “Everything about that situation, we believe and contend, was justified under Texas law.” A grand jury later agreed, declining to indict Mr. Earls for any crime.

The shooting was part of what many sheriffs, police leaders and district attorneys in urban areas of Texas say has been an increase in people carrying weapons and in spur-of-the-moment gunfire in the year since the state began allowing most adults 21 or over to carry a handgun without a license.

from Maine to Arizona, will not require a license to carry a handgun.

The state-by-state legislative push has coincided with a federal judiciary that has increasingly ruled in favor of carrying guns and against state efforts to regulate them.

But Texas is the most populous state to do away with handgun permit requirements. Five of the nation’s 15 biggest cities are in Texas, making the permitless approach to handguns a new fact of life in urban areas to an extent not seen in other states.

national debate over crime. Researchers have long argued over the effect of allowing more people to legally own and carry guns. But a series of recent studies has found a link between laws that make it easier to carry a handgun and increases in crime, and some have raised the possibility that more guns in circulation lead to more thefts of weapons and to more shootings by the police.

“The weight of the evidence has shifted in the direction that more guns equals more crime,” said John J. Donohue III, a Stanford Law School professor and the author of several recent studies looking at gun regulations and crime.

Much of the research has been around the effects of making handgun licenses easier to obtain, part of what are known as right-to-carry laws, and Mr. Donohue cautioned that only limited data is available on laws that in most cases require no licenses at all.

“I think most people are reasoning by analogy: If you thought that right-to-carry was harmful, this will be worse,” he said.

But John R. Lott Jr., a longtime researcher whose 1998 book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” has been influential among proponents of gun rights, said the newer studies did not take into account differences between state handgun regulations that might account for increases in crime. He also pointed to some recent crime declines in Texas cities after the permitless carry law went into effect, and to what he saw as the importance of increasing lawful gun ownership in high-crime areas.

because of the benefits it affords, including the ability to carry a concealed handgun into a government meeting. But it is no longer necessary.

“Somebody could go into Academy Sporting Goods here in El Paso and purchase a handgun and walk out with it after their background check,” said Ryan Urrutia, a commander at the El Paso Sheriff’s office. “It really puts law enforcement at a disadvantage because it puts more guns on the street that can be used against us.”

The law still bars carrying a handgun for those convicted of a felony, who are intoxicated or committing another crime. In Harris County, criminal cases involving illegal weapons possession have sharply increased since the new law went into effect: 3,500 so far this year, as of the middle of October, versus 2,300 in all of 2021 and an average of about 1,000 cases in prior years going back to 2012.

“It’s shocking,” said Kim Ogg, the Harris County district attorney. “We’ve seen more carrying weapons, which by itself would be legal. But people are carrying the weapons while committing other crimes, and I’m not talking just about violent crimes. I’m talking about intoxication crimes or driving crimes or property crimes, carrying weapons on school property or in another prohibited place,” including bars and school grounds.

Her office provided a sampling of arrests in the last few weeks: a 21-year-old man carrying a pistol and a second magazine while walking through the grounds of an elementary school during school hours; a man jumping from his car and opening fire at the driver of Tesla in a fit of road rage; a woman, while helping her little brother into a car, turning to shoot at another woman after an argument over a social media video.

In the case of Mr. Earls, the man accused of fatally shooting 9-year-old Arlene Alvarez while shooting at a fleeing robber, Ms. Ogg’s office presented evidence to a grand jury of charges ranging from negligent homicide to murder. The grand jury rejected those charges.

A lawyer for Mr. Earls declined to make him available to comment. The man who robbed Mr. Earls and his wife remains unidentified, Ms. Ogg said.

In May, a committee of the Texas House heard testimony from gun rights advocates who praised the passage of permitless carry and argued that it may be time to go further.

Rachel Malone, of Gun Owners of America, outlined some of her group’s priorities for the next legislative session.

“I think it would be appropriate to move the age for permitless carry to 18,” she told the committee. “There’s really no reason why a legal adult should not be able to defend themselves.”

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Hurricane Ian Started a Clock Ticking for Dialysis Patients

Some of the kidney center’s patients might have chosen to ride out the storm regardless of official warnings. Mr. Condore said he had just had his roof redone, and thought he would be fine.

In downtown Cape Coral, a city crisscrossed by canals, the kidney center “went through hell” trying to account for patients’ whereabouts after the storm hit, said Dr. Ankush Gulati, a nephrologist at the center. Some had fled or been rescued from rising waters. Phone lines were severed across the region.

Robert Hensley, a registered nurse, hunkered down in the center with another employee, using it as a “home base” during the harrowing hours when Ian came ashore. The building used to be a bank, so it felt safe enough, he said. Mr. Hensley and his co-worker advised patients to download walkie-talkie apps on their phones or to use radios to keep in contact.

After the storm moved on, Mr. Hensley found himself picking up patients off fishing boats at makeshift docks and driving them to dialysis. Even with those efforts, though some went too long without treatment, and had to be hospitalized, Dr. Gulati said. None of the patients from Cape Coral died, he said, but some remained in hospitals for up to two weeks after the storm.

At the same time, the center struggled with restricted water supplies, because the electric power needed to keep the water flowing was out across much of Lee County, and key water lines had been severed. Because of the large volume needed for dialysis equipment and the treatment process, it takes “swimming pools’ worth” of water for a center to function, Dr. Gulati said. So the Cape Coral clinic had to rely on water tanks brought in by the Federal Emergency Management Agency from as far away as Texas.

Other dialysis centers also felt the loss of water, power and accessible roads. DaVita Dialysis, a national provider, shut down 35 of its centers for various periods of time during and after the storm, a spokeswoman said; the company advised the affected patients to begin a three-day emergency diet that reduces the need for dialysis. Within five days of landfall, all of DaVita’s patients had received their treatments, the company said.

Fresenius, another national dialysis provider, had emergency generators, water, fuel and food available at its centers in the storm’s path, a spokesman said.

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On Car-Free Streets, Many New York Restaurants Thrived

New York City’s Open Streets program grew out of a clamor for more outdoor space early in the coronavirus pandemic.

But the traffic-free zones also became a vital lifeline for struggling restaurants and bars that embraced curbside dining.

Now, the economic impact of the initiative is being measured for the first time in a new city report that finds that restaurants and bars on the most successful Open Streets reported stronger sales than those on similar commercial streets with car traffic — and in some cases, did better than they did before the pandemic.

Some Open Streets even attracted new restaurants and bars during the first 18 months of Covid-19, when many businesses remained closed or limited their operations.

releasing the report on Tuesday as city officials seek to make outdoor dining permanent through an initiative known as Open Restaurants, which has enrolled more than 12,000 restaurants and bars. That initiative grew out of the Open Streets program, which was made permanent in 2021, though its efforts have been scaled back in some neighborhoods.

Critics of outdoor dining have complained that it has increased noise, trash and rats, as well as blocked sidewalks, taken away parking spots and worsened congestion, and they say it is no longer necessary as the city continues to recover from the pandemic.

State Assemblyman David I. Weprin, a Queens Democrat, said that there are both benefits and drawbacks to outdoor dining, and that each site should be assessed individually to determine whether an outdoor option is still necessary. “It shouldn’t just be an automatic OK like we did during the pandemic,” Mr. Weprin said. “I think there is less of a need now.”

six-block Open Street on Vanderbilt Avenue in 2020 to aid struggling restaurants and bars. Now, 24 establishments offer outdoor dining there and help pay for its operation, including seven that opened during the pandemic. Three more restaurants are coming soon.

“It’s really become a gathering place,” said Megan Robinson, the co-chairwoman of a volunteer committee that runs Vanderbilt. “I think people want to support their local businesses and this makes it easy for them.”

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The very last thing the UK needs is more ‘grownup’ politics. That’s what got us into this mess | Nesrine Malik

It won’t be Boris Johnson, but whoever the new prime minister turns out to be, they will have been dragged into office by “economic orthodoxy” and its henchmen. Their mandate is pre-written in the data you have been deluged with about the impact of unfunded tax cuts, from the depreciation of the pound to rises in interest rates, and the untenable upward effect this has had on mortgages and rents. The charts have spoken – an ideological experiment has gone terribly wrong and must be reversed.

But it is a tale of two crises, and only one is being told. Attracting far less fanfare is another set of statistics about cold and hunger. More than a million people are expected to be pushed into poverty this winter. Their slide into deprivation will test an informal support network already stretched to its limit. Last week, the food bank charity the Trussell Trust launched an emergency appeal for donations because need for food banks has now outstripped donations. Charities like this, private citizens and schools are mobilising to bridge the gap.

The hole is too large to plug. Half of all primary schools in England are trying to feed children in poverty who are ineligible for free school meals because their parents’ income does not meet the threshold. But there are 800,000 of them. It can be hard sometimes to grasp the scale of the problem through bare statistics, but vivid and haunting details can flesh them out. Children are eating school rubbers to line their stomachs and dull the ache and nausea of hunger. Others are bringing in empty lunchboxes then pretending to dine on their phantom food away from classmates, too ashamed to reveal that they have nothing to eat.

If these children’s families can’t afford to eat, they definitely can’t afford to keep warm as winter approaches and energy prices rocket. How can children expect to learn with their minds impaired by hunger and cold? Over the past year, reading ability among seven-year-olds from poor families fell at double the rate of those from affluent families, their future prospects receding before they have even begun.

People burn their utility bills at cost of living protests – video

But my goodness, the scenes in Westminster! Kwasi Kwarteng sacked on a plane, Suella Braverman gone for a data breach, reported manhandling, jostling and shouting outside the voting lobby. And if that wasn’t already enough to drown out the rumble of tummies and chattering of teeth, Liz Truss threw in the towel, kicking off another attention-sucking vortex of new leadership speculation and horse-trading.

“I worry,” Naomi Duncan, chief executive of Chefs in Schools, told me, two hours after Truss resigned, “that the ongoing political turmoil will divert attention.” The solution for her is simple: to give one meal a day to all children based on need, not an income calculation that has long since ceased to be relevant.

It does sound simple, doesn’t it? But the sort of government that tackles poverty, hunger and cold is not the government anyone who matters is clamouring for. As the emergency intensifies, politicians and opinion makers are calling not for a firefighter to treat this as the crisis it truly is, but for a “grownup” to make those economic charts read better.

“The grownups are back,” declared Liam Fox, after Jeremy Hunt and Penny Mordaunt’s performance at the dispatch box last week. “If Truss cannot quickly sort herself out,” the Sun (of all papers) told us, ‘“the grownups need to get in a room” and “agree a peaceful transition to a sensible figure”. This trope exemplifies the detachment of both Westminster and Westminster watchers. As the country enters into the winter crisis proper, those at the top are looking for a leader with unspecified technocratic skills who, like a contracted management consultant, will be able to “stabilise” UK plc. It’s not the mouths of children that need feeding, but the markets.

If this new leader must have an ideology, it should be one that aligns with the aim of “fiscal responsibility”, itself a byword for reduced state spending. They must “look like a leader”, and enact whatever callous cuts they have to, preferably while exhibiting suitable regret at having to make “difficult decisions”. The result of this settlement is a chilling absence of politicians able to articulate the exceptional pain the public is going through. Also absent are any policies that would tackle the cost of living and energy emergency through higher taxes on the wealthy, or an economic stabilisation agenda that addresses the goals not only of those who want to prosper, but those who need to survive.

Liz Truss, lettuce and a lectern: 25 hours of chaos in three minutes – video

Even among a fuming opposition there is a sort of bloodless anger. “The damage to mortgages and bills has been done,” tweeted Keir Starmer as if the economic impact is being felt by pieces of paper rather than people. It seems everyone has understood that injecting feeling and channelling the fear and deprivation that stalks people every day disqualifies you from being taken seriously as a politician. The “adult” approach seems to be keeping the markets happy and achieving abstract “growth”, rather than also prioritising the security of those so on the margins they cannot benefit from that growth; those who will suffer most when the next round of soberly dictated cuts arrive.

To include in your economic vision the importance of benefits, subsidies or improvements to public services to the wellbeing of those not able to fully participate in the housing or job market is somehow outside the parameters of acceptable politics.

But it is staying in that lane of acceptable politics that has resulted in our political and social crises. The delusion is that if we try just one more time with someone like Rishi Sunak, a man who flat out complained of funding being “shoved into deprived areas”, the right or right of centre will crack it. Despite the fact that this is the tribe which over the past two decades pursued the deregulation agenda of big businesses, allowed working conditions and wages to be run into the ground, slashed benefits, and failed to invest any money saved from painful cuts into, to take just one example, any future-proofing green energy that would have mitigated this winter crisis.

I wonder, even with attention constantly yanked back to the Westminster spectacle, just how many more chances the grownups can get away with when every day another adult or child starts to go without food, or another family bundle themselves up at night instead of putting the heating on. Just how much longer can people put up with a consensus that placates the financial system with an “acceptable” number of losers? Grownup politics is literally that: disregarding those who do not “matter”, considering the economically marginalised simply as collateral damage, excluding their passions from the cool halls of power and cultivating resignation to ever more suffering. But with their numbers rising and their pain intensifying, that may be about to become an impossible task.

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Math Scores Fell in Nearly Every State, and Reading Dipped on National Exam

U.S. students in most states and across almost all demographic groups have experienced troubling setbacks in both math and reading, according to an authoritative national exam released on Monday, offering the most definitive indictment yet of the pandemic’s impact on millions of schoolchildren.

In math, the results were especially devastating, representing the steepest declines ever recorded on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card, which tests a broad sampling of fourth and eighth graders and dates to the early 1990s.

In the test’s first results since the pandemic began, math scores for eighth graders fell in nearly every state. A meager 26 percent of eighth graders were proficient, down from 34 percent in 2019.

Fourth graders fared only slightly better, with declines in 41 states. Just 36 percent of fourth graders were proficient in math, down from 41 percent.

a downward trend that had begun even before the pandemic. No state showed sizable improvement in reading. And only about one in three students met proficiency standards, a designation that means students have demonstrated competency and are on track for future success.

billions more dollars and several years for students to properly recover.

The test results could be seized as political fodder — just before the midterms — to re-litigate the debate over how long schools should have stayed closed, an issue that galvanized many parents and teachers.

The bleak results underscored how closing schools hurt students, but researchers cautioned against drawing fast conclusions about whether states where schools stayed remote for longer had significantly worse results.

Decisions about how long to keep schools closed often varied even within states, depending on the local school district and virus transmission rates. And other factors, such as poverty levels and a state’s specific education policies, may also influence results.

The picture was mixed, and performance varied by grade level and subject matter in ways that were not always clear cut.

reading scores had also declined in many states.

stayed remote for longer than wealthier schools did during the pandemic, deepening divides.

The impact was especially stark for struggling students. In a survey included in the test, only half of fourth graders who were low performing in math said they had access to a computer at all times during the 2020-21 school year, compared with 80 percent of high-performing students.

Similarly, 70 percent said they had a quiet place to work at least some of the time, compared with 90 percent for high performers.

In one bright spot, most big city school districts, including New York City, Dallas and Miami-Dade, held steady in reading.

are more likely to drop out of high school, or not graduate on time. And ninth grade — where eighth graders who took the test in the spring are now — is considered a critical year for setting students up to graduate high school and attend college.

“We need to be doing something to target our resources better at those students who have been just historically underserved,” said Denise Forte, the interim chief executive at the Education Trust, which focuses on closing gaps for disadvantaged students.

Frequent small-group tutoring and doubling up on math classes are among the strategies that have shown promise.

Kevin Huffman, a former education commissioner in Tennessee who is now the chief executive of Accelerate, a nonprofit focused on tutoring, urged leaders to set aside finger pointing about what went wrong during the pandemic, and instead make a “moral commitment” to helping students recover.

“We cannot, as a country, declare that 2019 was the pinnacle of American education,” he said.

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