Ah, change; am not very good at it, but here we go anyway, as summer loosens its grip, the sun moves into Libra, and fall officially arrives tomorrow, September 23. Officially called the autumnal equinox, it’s one of the only two times a year that the earth’s axis tilts to such a degree that everyone everywhere gets the same amount of daylight and darkness that day. After that, shorter and shorter days until the winter solstice on December 21, the shortest day of the year.

But here’s something kind of cool to keep in mind as you bundle up and shiver away from popsugar.com: “The sun’s journey through the sign of the Scales will bolster self-reflection and communication around Venusian subjects like partnership, values, and potentially spur even eye-opening realizations and game-changing heart-to hearts.”

So there you go…

Meanwhile, on the education front, changing times, too…

Of note: An EdWeek Research Center survey asked more than 1,000 teachers, school, and district leaders “What’s on the Minds of Educators.” Among the findings:

  • 77% said they are not prepared or poorly prepared to teach students the skills needed to succeed in an AI-powered world vs. 24% who said they are.
  • 58% said that parents have expressed concerns about LGBTQ+ issues/sexual orientation, with 38% saying gender issues, and 34% saying diversity, equity, and/or inclusion.
  • 88% agreed that public schools are essential to a functioning democracy vs. 12% who disagreed.

Of note: A recent university of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked parents to rate each of the following topics as a big problem, somewhat of a problem, or not a problem. The results found that the top 5 “big problem” concerns are:

  • Overuse of devices or screen time: 67%
  • Social media: 66%
  • Internet safety: 62%
  • Depression & suicide: 57%
  • Bullying: 53%

About 50% of those same parents also these issues are a “big problem:”

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Unhealthy diets
  • Healthcare costs

Of note: An August Harris Poll of parents/guardians of school-age children found that:

  • 33% said their children’s emotional and behavioral health suffered due to the pandemic.
  • 43% said it hurt their children’s social development.
  • 10% said their children are worse off today—socially, emotionally, and behaviorally—than when schools opened in the fall of 2022.

That same poll found that:

  • 86% of respondents at least somewhat agree that schools should be a resource for parents, families, and students.
  • 75% at least somewhat agree that they trust their child’s school to share information about their child’s behavior.
  • 60% are at least somewhat satisfied with the level of support they receive vs. 17% who are dissatisfied.
  • 50% said their children’s schools don’t offer any academic, career, or mental health counseling.

Of note: Suspensions and expulsions are a tool with a long history but are now considered “ineffective” and disproportionately affecting students of color and students with disabilities.

Of note: 61% of K-2 teachers said they use leveled texts in small group work, with levels determined by an assessment to measure overall reading comprehension. This is usually accomplished by having a student read, as the number and type of errors are recorded.

Of note: At least 7 states now have laws on the books requiring schools to identify and support those kids struggling in math, while mandating that teachers receive additional training.

Of note: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to enforce new rules, such as requiring schools to reduce sodium and added sugars in the foods they serve. However, Jennifer Bove, food and nutrition director of Connecticut’s East Hampton Public Schools, worries that kids won’t eat these foods and much of it will be wasted.

At the same time, California became the first state to offer free meals to all students, regardless of family income. Eight states, including Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Michigan, have followed suit.

Of note: Since the pandemic, school lunch debts are described as “crippling.” According to the School Nutrition Association, as of November 2022, nationally schools carry $19.2 million in unpaid meal debt, with a median of $5,164 per school.

Of note: Teachers continue to spend a lot of their own money on classroom supplies, this year averaging $673 per year, according to a recent Association of American Educators survey.

Ironically, teachers earning the least—between $35,000 and $50,000—buy, on average, $715 worth of such supplies. Those in high poverty schools spend, on average, $761.

Of note: By the time all is said and done, the National Retail Federation predicts this back-to-school shopping season will end up being the most expensive one ever, with overall spending coming in at more than $135 billion, an increase of $24 billion last year.

So, here’s to both autumn and changing times, Carol