set up stakeouts to prevent illegal stuffing of ballot boxes. Officials overseeing elections are ramping up security at polling places.

Voting rights groups said they were increasingly concerned by Ms. Engelbrecht.

She has “taken the power of rhetoric to a new place,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, the acting director of voting rights at the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan think tank. “It’s having a real impact on the way lawmakers and states are governing elections and on the concerns we have on what may happen in the upcoming elections.”

Some of Ms. Engelbrecht’s former allies have cut ties with her. Rick Wilson, a Republican operative and Trump critic, ran public relations for Ms. Engelbrecht in 2014 but quit after a few months. He said she had declined to turn over data to back her voting fraud claims.

“She never had the juice in terms of evidence,” Mr. Wilson said. “But now that doesn’t matter. She’s having her uplift moment.”

a video of the donor meeting obtained by The New York Times. They did not elaborate on why.

announce a partnership to scrutinize voting during the midterms.

“The most important right the American people have is to choose our own public officials,” said Mr. Mack, a former sheriff of Graham County, Ariz. “Anybody trying to steal that right needs to be prosecuted and arrested.”

Steve Bannon, then chief executive of the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, and Andrew Breitbart, the publication’s founder, spoke at her conferences.

True the Vote’s volunteers scrutinized registration rolls, watched polling stations and wrote highly speculative reports. In 2010, a volunteer in San Diego reported seeing a bus offloading people at a polling station “who did not appear to be from this country.”

Civil rights groups described the activities as voter suppression. In 2010, Ms. Engelbrecht told supporters that Houston Votes, a nonprofit that registered voters in diverse communities of Harris County, Texas, was connected to the “New Black Panthers.” She showed a video of an unrelated New Black Panther member in Philadelphia who called for the extermination of white people. Houston Votes was subsequently investigated by state officials, and law enforcement raided its office.

“It was a lie and racist to the core,” said Fred Lewis, head of Houston Votes, who sued True the Vote for defamation. He said he had dropped the suit after reaching “an understanding” that True the Vote would stop making accusations. Ms. Engelbrecht said she didn’t recall such an agreement.

in April 2021, did not respond to requests for comment. Ms. Engelbrecht has denied his claims.

In mid-2021, “2,000 Mules” was hatched after Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips met with Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative provocateur and filmmaker. They told him that they could detect cases of ballot box stuffing based on two terabytes of cellphone geolocation data that they had bought and matched with video surveillance footage of ballot drop boxes.

Salem Media Group, the conservative media conglomerate, and Mr. D’Souza agreed to create and fund a film. The “2,000 Mules” title was meant to evoke the image of cartels that pay people to carry illegal drugs into the United States.

said after seeing the film that it raised “significant questions” about the 2020 election results; 17 state legislators in Michigan also called for an investigation into election results there based on the film’s accusations.

In Arizona, the attorney general’s office asked True the Vote between April and June for data about some of the claims in “2,000 Mules.” The contentions related to Maricopa and Yuma Counties, where Ms. Engelbrecht said people had illegally submitted ballots and had used “stash houses” to store fraudulent ballots.

According to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, a True the Vote official said Mr. Phillips had turned over a hard drive with the data. The attorney general’s office said early this month that it hadn’t received it.

Last month, Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips hosted an invitation-only gathering of about 150 supporters in Queen Creek, Ariz., which was streamed online. For weeks beforehand, they promised to reveal the addresses of ballot “stash houses” and footage of voter fraud.

Ms. Engelbrecht did not divulge the data at the event. Instead, she implored the audience to look to the midterm elections, which she warned were the next great threat to voter integrity.

“The past is prologue,” she said.

Alexandra Berzon contributed reporting.

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‘Succession,’ ‘Ted Lasso’ Top Emmys; 1st-Time Winners Shine

Television’s biggest stars gathered to celebrate their achievements at the 2022 Emmy Awards, hosted by Kenan Thompson.

“Succession” and “Ted Lasso” topped the Emmy Awards on Monday, in a ceremony that touted the influence of TV and extended honors to global sensation “Squid Game” and winners who delivered messages of empowerment.

The evening’s uplifting tone, as voiced especially by Zendaya, Lizzo and Sheryl Lee Ralph, was in contrast to the darkness that pervaded the storytelling of best drama series winner “Succession” and even comedy series victor “Ted Lasso.”

“Thanks for making such a safe space to make this very difficult show,” said Zendaya, claiming her second best drama actress award for “Euphoria,” about a group of teens’ tough coming-of-age.

“My greatest wish for ‘Euphoria’ was that it could help heal people. Thank you for everyone who has shared your story with me. I carry them with me, and I carry them with” Rue, her character, Zendaya said.

“Succession,” about a media empire run by a grasping and cutthroat family, split drama series honors with “Squid Game,” the bold South Korean-set drama about the idle rich turning the poor into entertainment fodder.

Lee Jung-jae of “Squid Game,” who played the show’s moral center, became the first Asian to win the Emmy for best drama series actor.

“Thank you for making realistic problems we all face come to life so creatively on the screen,” Lee said to “Squid Game” creator Hwang Dong-hyuk, who earned the Emmy for best drama series directing. In Korean, Lee thanked the audience in his native country for watching.

Backstage, Hwang said this was “a major moment for us,” and Lee said he expected the awards to open doors for other Asian actors.

Jason Sudeikis and Jean Smart collected back-to-back acting trophies, but several new Emmy winners were minted, with Lizzo and Quinta Brunson and Sheryl Lee Ralph of “Abbott Elementary” collecting trophies.

Brunson, who created and stars in the freshman series, won the Emmy for comedy series writing. ABC’s “Abbott Elementary,” also nominated for best comedy, is a rare bright spot for network broadcasting in the age of streaming and cable dominance.

Sudeikis won his second consecutive trophy for playing the unlikely U.S. coach of a British soccer team in the comedy “Ted Lasso,” with Smart matching that haul for her role as a veteran comedian in “Hacks.”

Sudeikis gave a rare awards show shoutout to TV consumers: “Thanks to the people who watch this show and dig it as much as we dig making it.”

There was a ripple of reaction in the theater when “Succession” creator Jesse Armstrong mentioned Britain’s new king, Charles III, in accepting the show’s trophy, the cast standing alongside him.

“Big week for successions, new king in the U.K., this for us. Evidently a little bit more voting involved in our winning than Prince Charles,” Armstrong said. “I’m not saying we’re more legitimate in our position than he is. We’ll leave that up to other people.”

Ralph stopped the Emmy Awards show by accepting the best supporting actress comedy award for “Abbott Elementary” with a brief but rousing song of affirmation.

“I am an endangered species, but I sing no victim song. I am a woman, I am an artist and I know where my voice belongs,” she belted out. She then encouraged anyone doubting their dream “I am here to tell you this is what believing looks like.”

The audience, including Lizzo and many of television’s biggest stars, leapt to their feet to cheer on Ralph.

When Lizzo herself accepted the award for best-competition series trophy for “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls,” she offered another emotional pep talk.

“When I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media. Someone fat like me, Black like me, beautiful like me,” the music artist said.

There were also cheers for presenter Selma Blair, who has discussed her multiple sclerosis diagnosis publicly and who used a cane on stage.

“Ted Lasso” co-star Brett Goldstein, won comedy supporting actors, while Matthew Macfadyen of “Succession” and Julia Garner of “Ozark” earned drama series supporting actor honors.

“It’s such a pleasure and privilege for me to play this bonkers gift of a role in this wonderful show,” Macfadyen said in accepting the trophy for his role as a scheming member of a media empire family.

Garner was among the winners who took advantage of covering all bases by thanking her husband and others in an on-screen message.

“The White Lotus” collected several honors, including best limited or anthology series.

The achievements of “Squid Game,” “Abbott Elementary” and a few other shows didn’t change the relative lack of diversity in this year’s nominations, which included significantly fewer people of color than in 2021.

Host Kenan Thompson kicked off the Emmys with a tribute to TV, dismissing TikTok as “tiny vertical television,” and a musical number saluting series’ theme songs from “Friends” to “The Brady Bunch” to “Game of Thrones.”

Once the music stopped, Thompson provided a mic-drop moment — announcing Oprah Winfrey as the first presenter. Winfrey strutted onto the stage holding an Emmy statuette, declaring the night “a party!” The night’s first award went to Michael Keaton for his role in “Dopesick.” Winfrey and Keaton hugged before she handed him his trophy.

“It means something,” Keaton said of the award for playing a caring doctor ensnared with his patients by addiction. He went on to recall the “magic” of being introduced to TV when his dad won a set at a raffle and thanked his parents for not mocking his youthful attempts at acting.

Amanda Seyfried earned the limited-series lead actress trophy for “The Dropout,” in which she played ill-fated Silicon Valley whiz kid Elizabeth Holmes. She thanked a list of family and colleagues and even her dog, Finn.

Murray Bartlett won the best supporting actor award for “The White Lotus,” a tragicomedy set in a Hawaii resort. Jennifer Coolidge, who won best supporting actress honors for the show, delighted the audience by shimmying to the music intended to cut off her acceptance speech.

The award for best variety talk show went to “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” with stand-up special “Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel” winning for best writing for a comedy special.

“Good night, everybody. I’ma go home. I’m not like a sore winner, but I’m going to go home because I can’t top this right now,” an overcome Carmichael told the audience.

Glamour was back with some metallic sparkle and lots of bright color as an otherworldly Britt Lower, Old Hollywood Elle Fanning and their fellow stars posed for photographers.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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How Christians Are Coupling Biblical Concepts With Mental Wellness

Leaders in faith and science are trying to bridge the two in the mental health space by providing resources and support to congregations.

According to a study from Lifeway research, 54% of protestant pastors say they have had a member of their congregation diagnosed with a severe mental illness, and the pandemic is only exacerbating the challenges faith leaders are facing. 

But mental health experts say the bridge between the mental health community and faith leaders has narrowed, allowing for a partnership among believers and doctors.

Dr. Nii Addy — a podcaster, Yale professor, and neuroscientist — has made it his mission to show fellow Christians how science, mental health and faith go hand in hand.  

“A lot of what we do in our research is trying to understand what happens in the brain during states of anxiety, states of depression, if people are navigating through addiction,” Dr. Addy said. “As I talk about that science, I’ve heard people say, ‘Okay, that really gave me more of a sense for why my loved one is acting like this.'”

Christians across the country are finding ways to marry Biblical concepts with with treatment and therapy.

Peace Amadi, a pastor’s daughter, says she grew up knowing all the right verses until college.

“I had my own experiences with anxiety,” Amadi said. “I had my own experiences with mild depression… and, just to put it plainly, a lot of bullying.”

She turned that experience into a career as a psychology professor at a Christian university.

Psychologist Archandria Owens says she was once told her faith was a liability in psychology; now she uses Biblical concepts as a tool.  

“How do we just manifest and do our best to look at spiritual wellness as a dimension that is crucial in wellness?” Dr. Owens asked. “Our brains are so in cue in to looking at what’s wrong in the world because we need to be able to predict how to protect ourselves, so this spiritual practice of gratitude, really looking for what’s good, changes the brain.”

Dr. Addy, Amadi and Dr. Owens all say they are encouraged to see a greater acceptance of mental health treatment in the religious realm, pointing to the pandemic as well as deaths by suicide among faith leaders as major turning points.

According to a Lifeway Research study, 26% percent of protestant pastors say they are dealing with their own mental health struggles.

“Even when you have faith, even when you lean into prayer, even when you’re a leader, even when you’re doing all the right things, there’s something that we’re still not exempt from,” Amadi said.

Dr. Addy says more pastors are opening up about their own challenges.

“This is someone I look up to as a leader who is saying that they’re working through that, that they are working through it with prayer, but they’re also working through it with counseling,” Dr. Addy said. 

The first line of defense in the mental health battle for many religious communities are the pastors.  

A Rice University survey of Black and Latino Christians found that most would pray or seek counsel from a pastor if they’re in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The Department of Health and Human Service has partnered with churches to make sure leaders have the tools they need, including serving as a branch to mental health professionals.   

“You don’t stop believing in God when you need your healing,” Amadi said. “You don’t stop believing in God because you’re seeking a specialist. It all can work together.”

Newsy’s mental health initiative “America’s Breakdown: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis” brings you deeply personal and thoughtfully told stories on the state of mental health care in the U.S. Click here to learn more.

Source: newsy.com

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Police Arrest Memphis Man In Livestreamed Shootings; 4 Dead

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 8, 2022

Records show the suspect is a felon who was released early from a prison term for aggravated assault.

A gunman who livestreamed himself driving around Memphis shooting at people, killing four and wounding three others in seemingly random attacks, was finally arrested after crashing a stolen car, police said early Thursday.

The hourslong rampage had police warning people across the city to shelter in place, locking down a baseball stadium and university campuses and suspending public bus services as frightened residents wondered where the man might strike next.

The suspect, Ezekiel Kelly, 19, a violent felon who was released early from prison this year, was taken into custody at around 9 p.m. in the Memphis neighborhood of Whitehaven, police spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said.

Memphis Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said during a news conference early Thursday that four people were killed and three others were wounded in seven shootings and at least two carjackings.

The first killing was at 12:56 a.m. Wednesday, and officers responded to three more crime scenes before receiving a tip at 6:12 p.m. that the suspect was livestreaming himself threatening to cause harm to citizens, Davis said.

Police then sent out an alert warning people to be on the lookout for an armed and dangerous man responsible for multiple shootings and reportedly recording his actions on Facebook.

Three more shootings and two carjackings followed. Police said he killed a woman in Memphis as he took her gray Toyota SUV, which he left behind when he stole a man’s Dodge Challenger across the state line in Southaven, Mississippi.

Kelly was arrested without incident two hours after the initial police alert when he crashed the Challenger during a high-speed chase, and two guns were found in the vehicle, Davis said.

As the shooter terrorized the city, buses stopped running and the Memphis Redbirds cleared the field during their minor-league baseball game. Friends and relatives frantically called and texted each other and TV stations cut into regular coverage with updates.

Police received “numerous tips” from the public during the ordeal, Davis said.

The University of Memphis sent a message to students saying a shooting had been reported near the campus. Rhodes College, which is about 4 miles away from the university, advised students on and off campus to shelter in place.

The area where Kelly was arrested was about 11 miles from the University of Memphis and about 12 miles from Rhodes College.

“If you do not have to be out, stay indoors until this is resolved,” Memphis police said on Twitter, before the arrest.

Police did not discuss a motive or release the identities of those who were killed or wounded. It was too early in the investigation to discuss how the suspect got the gun or guns used in the shootings, said Ali Roberts, acting assistant special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Memphis.

Memphis has been shaken by several high-profile killings in recent weeks, including the shooting of a pastor during a daylight carjacking in her driveway, the shooting of an activist during an argument over money, and the slaying of a jogger abducted during her pre-dawn run.

“I understand it feels like so much violence and evil to experience in such a short time,” Memphis City Council member Chase Carlisle said on Twitter. “We are SO much more than this.”

In February 2020, Kelly, then 17, was charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, using a firearm to commit a dangerous felony and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, court records show.

Records show he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced in April 2021 to three years. Kelly was released from prison in March, 11 months after he was sentenced, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.

“This is no way for us to live and it is not acceptable,” the mayor said. “If Mr. Kelly served his full three-year sentence, he would still be in prison today and four of our fellow citizens would still be alive.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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The Struggle And Rising Need For Veterans To Get Mental Health Care

Research shows nearly half of American veterans who need mental health care don’t get it.

The guilt felt by Connor McDaniel’s father, David, is overwhelming.  

“He had more personality than a whole bunch of people put together. I miss him terribly. I miss him every day,” David said. “I’m his father. I’m supposed to protect him, even from himself, and I failed. It’s very, very hard to deal with.”

Last year, the 26-year-old veteran sent his last email to his loved ones. 

“He felt like his entire life would’ve been a series of bad experiences.”

His family tried to stop him. His father called law enforcement for help.  

El Paso County sheriff’s deputies found McDaniel first, where he provoked them to shoot and kill him. 

The district attorney’s office ruled the shooting was justified.  

David is now fulfilling a promise to his son — that he would never be just another number.

“My son made it very clear in his note to us that he didn’t want to be a gun violence statistic, a veteran suicide statistic,” he said. 

David wants to ensure every veteran receives access to mental health care after they return home. And data shows the need is rising. 

 The Department of Veterans Affairs projects a 32% spike in outpatient mental health care over the next 10 years. And one-third of veterans who received care from the VA were diagnosed with at least one mental health condition.

But there are barriers to treatment. Stigma and shame are two of them, according to Bob McLaughlin with the Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center. 

“It’s about resiliency, right, and when that breaks — when people feel that they’re weak — that’s against the culture,” he said.

In a 2018 study from the peer-reviewed BMC Health Service Journal, researchers found a majority of veterans were worried about what others would think if they sought treatment.  

University of Memphis President Michael Rudd also says troops on active duty can face consequences for reaching out for help.  

“Ultimately, the concern is about the impact on career progression, the impact on your deployability, the impact on all sorts of things in terms of advancement,” he said. “That’s how stigma is maintained.”

Some veterans told the BMC that fear lingers long into retirement. 

In an effort to erase stigma, the VA created a national campaign called “The Veterans Know,” where former service members encourage each other to take charge of their mental health. 

“It really is quite empowering to hear veterans talk about their struggle, how they became aware of the struggle and then all the different kinds of ways that they got help,” Department of Defense Mental Health National Director for VA Christopher Loftis said.

Even when veterans look for treatment, the BMC study found that many had little confidence in the VA health care system. 

Veterans who were interviewed pointed to “appointment problems, staffing issues” and “limited follow-up” from providers and staff.  

“It’s just starting to build back up into another waitlist scandal,” Concerned Veterans of America Coalitions Director Joshua Stanwitz said. 

Before the problem hits a crisis point, like the waitlist scandal in 2014, Navy veteran Paula Pedene accused VA officials in Phoenix of lying to the federal government about shorter appointment wait times.

An audit from the VA Inspector General found systemic problems throughout the VA, discovering the average wait was really 115 days and at least 40 veterans died without the chance to see a doctor. 

“There was 111 VA facilities that were using the same methodology and manipulating the wait time data to make them look good,” Pedene said.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki stepped down in the wake of the scandal and then-president Barack Obama signed 19 executive orders to improve VA hospitals.  

On its website, the VA says it implemented new methods of calculating average wait times to be more accurate so patients can check how long it will take to see a provider. 

The wait times change daily, but when we last checked within 50 miles of Chicago, the wait was anywhere from 9 to 13 days. 

Under the VA Mission Act of 2018, which aims to provide broader access to health care, veterans should only wait a standard of 20 days after requesting a mental health appointment. 

Rural areas also face unique geographical hurdles, like in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

When we last checked, there is one treatment facility in the area with a 15-day wait.  

The center with the second-earliest availability is 95 miles away. 

If veterans can’t get the help they need, the VA Mission Act says the VA is supposed to pay other health care systems to take over, like community care.  

But an investigation from USA Today last year found in some cases, administrators overrule doctor recommendations to send vets outside the VA in order to retain patients. And once people are sent to community care, the average wait time is about 42 days.  

The VA told USA Today it’s following Mission Act requirements. And some doctors say expanded telehealth is easing struggles. 

“The way that psychiatrists and psychologists can work with someone in a rural area is very effective as well,” Zablocki VA Hospital Mental Health Division Manager Dr. Bert Berger said.

VA data shows the pandemic drove telehealth appointments to unprecedented heights, jumping nearly 2,000% between January 2020 and 2021. 

Officials told Congress last year about spending government funds to expand care and improve reach.  

Veterans Health Administration Acting Deputy Under Secretary Dr. Steven Lieberman said the VA distributed over 84,000 iPads and 20,000 cell phones. “It helped us accelerate the modernization of bandwith to reach over 2,100 locations with increased bandwith on modernized platforms.”

Today, the system is supporting over 100,000 remote users. 

Still, some veterans expressed distrust over using online services, telling BMC researchers they think the system will share private information.  

One Vietnam veteran confessed he was afraid that sharing about his time overseas would land him in jail.  

Other vets said they simply didn’t know anything about VA benefits before leaving the military. They struggled to understand how to find or use mental health services as veterans, instead of as active-duty members. 

The VA built Make the Connection, a website to link up veterans with resources and solutions for their mental health needs. 

There are also free, online tools for veterans to deal with sleep issues or anger management, plus a crisis line with 24/7 support for vets and their families. 

But Berger says it’s important for veterans to take the difficult first step and seek the support they need.  

“Veterans are proud,” he said. “They served their country. They don’t want to admit they have a problem or admit defeat in any way, so admitting that they have a mental health problem is really difficult.”

As for David McDaniel, he just wants to make sure troops know they aren’t alone when they come back from deployment, while keeping his son’s memory alive along the way.  

“I really do strongly feel like if we can make the ‘D’ disappear from PTSD, and it’s not such a stigma, and everybody who’s been in combat goes for some mental health, I think it will change things a lot.”

Source: newsy.com

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The Flaw in Biden’s Pro-Labor Record: Uber Drivers Are Still Waiting for Help

As a part-time Lyft driver in 2020, Nicole Moore was listening carefully when Joseph R. Biden Jr., a candidate for president, said the refusal by ride-hailing companies to treat their drivers as employees “deprives these workers of legally mandated benefits and protections.”

Labor activists like Ms. Moore, who runs an advocacy group in California called Rideshare Drivers United, hoped that Mr. Biden, as president, would spearhead a flurry of activity aimed at forcing companies in the gig economy like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to classify drivers as employees rather than independent contractors. Such a change would mean paying the drivers a minimum wage, giving them benefits and making them eligible to unionize.

Instead, a year and a half into Mr. Biden’s presidency, little has been done at the federal level to address independent contractors. Enforcement of existing labor laws has not been notably beefed up. And the president’s nominee to lead the Labor Department’s enforcement division was voted down by the Senate, including by several Democrats.

labor issues and unions, and that they have been hamstrung by a recent court decision that extended a Trump-era rule making it easier for companies like Uber to argue their workers should be classified as independent contractors under federal law.

In statements, the White House and Labor Department emphasized the importance of addressing worker misclassification but did not single out gig companies like Uber.

“The president ran on an aggressive and comprehensive approach to addressing worker misclassification,” said Alexandra LaManna, a White House spokeswoman who used to be senior communications executive at Lyft. She added, “The policy of this administration is to strengthen worker power and a solution to worker misclassification is a key part of that agenda.”

passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which included language making it harder for companies to classify drivers as independent. The next month, Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh suggested to Reuters that “in a lot of cases gig workers should be classified as employees,” sending shares of gig companies’ stock tumbling.

Mr. Weil would have investigated whether gig companies were violating labor law and sought retroactive minimum pay for drivers.

a judge threw it out. The companies were also stymied in Massachusetts. But without the threat of federal enforcement, their state-by-state approach got legislation passed this year in Washington, Georgia and Alabama.

Ms. Moore said she was pessimistic about Mr. Biden’s following through on his promises.

“That was certainly the hope,” she said. “I’m old enough to learn that you can’t pin all your hopes on any one politician.”

Kate Conger contributed reporting.

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Data Shows Reading, Math Scores Fell Sharply During Pandemic

By Associated Press
September 1, 2022

The declines hit all regions of the country and affected students of most races. But students of color saw some of the steepest decreases.

Math and reading scores for America’s 9-year-olds fell dramatically during the first two years of the pandemic, according to a new federal study — offering an early glimpse of the sheer magnitude of the learning setbacks dealt to the nation’s children.

Reading scores saw their largest decrease in 30 years, while math scores had their first decrease in the history of the testing regimen behind the study, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Education Department.

The declines hit all regions of the country and affected students of most races. But students of color saw some of the steepest decreases, widening the racial achievement gap.

Much of the nation’s standardized testing didn’t happen during the early days of the pandemic, so the findings released Thursday gave an early look at the impact of pandemic learning disruptions. Broader data is expected to be released later this year as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

“These are some of the largest declines we have observed in a single assessment cycle in 50 years of the NAEP program,” said Daniel McGrath, the acting associate commissioner of NCES. “Students in 2022 are performing at a level last seen two decades ago.”

The study reflects two years of upheaval in American education as schools shut down for months at a time amid COVID-19 outbreaks. Many students spent a year or more learning from home, and virus outbreaks among staff and students continued the disruption even after kids returned to the classroom.

In math, the average score for 9-year-old students fell 7 percentage points between 2020 and 2022, according to the study. The average reading score fell 5 points.

The pandemic’s upheaval especially hurt students of color. Math scores dropped by 5 percentage points for white students, compared with 13 points for Black students and 8 points for Hispanic students. The divide between Black and white students widened by 8 percentage points during the pandemic.

Decreases were more uniform in reading: Scores dropped 6 points for white, Black and Hispanic students.

For Asian American students, Native American students and students of two or more races, there was little change in reading or math between 2020 and 2022, the study found.

Geographically, all regions saw decreases in math, but declines were slightly worse in the Northeast and Midwest compared with the West and South. Outcomes were similar for reading, except that the West had no measurable difference compared with 2020.

Although it marks a sharp drop since 2020, the average reading score was 7 points higher than it was in 1971, and the average math score was 15 points higher than in 1978, the study found.

Overall, the results paint a “sobering picture” of schooling during the pandemic, said Peggy Carr, commissioner of the NCES.

Federal officials say this is the first nationally representative study to compare student achievement before the pandemic and in 2022, when most students had returned to in-person learning. Testing was completed in early 2020, soon before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, and in early 2022.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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