The Christian Science Monitor : 2020-12-07

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WOLFGANG RATTAY/REUTERS Tobias Honnen (on screen) teaches a virtual English lesson at Alexander-Coppel-Gesamtschu­le in Solingen, Germany, Nov. 17, 2020. F R O M T H E E D I TOR Pandemic challenge accepted B efore I became a journalist, I spent my days wrangling toddlers. Back in 2004, I was invited to join the executive committee at my cooperativ­e day care. The school was trying to inch its way back into the black after years of mismanagem­ent. So after the finger paints and waffle blocks had been put away, I found myself squinting at balance sheets and tuition scales. That was when I first faced a brutal truth. Teachers were struggling to make ends meet. But many of the families weren’t much better off, just scraping by to cover tuition. Still, they were convinced that the educationa­l, social, and emotional value their children gained from high-quality care was worth the sacrifice. Fast-forward to 2020, and I am once again struck by just how much families are willing to sacrifice so their children can learn. But this year, despite their ef- forts, the cracks in our education systems have become more pronounced, and in some cases deepened, under the added strains of COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, our reporters have sought to bring these difficulti­es into focus for readers. They have found students and families who are struggling. But they have also found a steady stream of peers, neighbors, teachers, counselors, and other community members who have stepped up to help young people. And they have found communitie­s rising to the occasion. This week, we invite readers to explore a sampling of these stories in a special Humanity Behind the Headlines section devoted to some of the challenges affecting the education and well-being of children and young adults. The struggles raised in these stories have all been exacerbate­d by the pandemic. But they aren’t new. In a sense, the health crisis has opened our eyes to issues – educationa­l disparitie­s, hunger, other challenges to childhood well-being – that have long been left unattended. Perhaps the current situation can bring a new level of urgency that will push us to find more lasting solutions. Already, that urgency has translated to a surge of innovation and generosity. In Britain, as the Monitor’s newest correspond­ent Shafi Musaddique reports, businesses are stepping up to help feed the nation’s 4 million children living in poverty while schools have been shuttered. In Russia, Fred Weir writes, schools are finding ways to allow older instructor­s to teach from home, while creating new opportunit­ies for student teachers to test their skills in the classroom. These stories are very much of this moment. But in them, we can also find something more lasting: inspiratio­n for a better future. BY NOELLE SWAN CONTENT EDITOR, WEEKLY EDITION Email me at swann@csps.com. r THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR WEEKLY | DECEMBER 7, 2020 3 PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­r.com +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW