As schools grappled with the decision to reopen, many women were stressed with their own pandemic issues at home—balancing
motherhood and rising expectations for educators, said GSE’s educational equity expert Julie Gorlewski.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers who also are mothers have been under pressure to educate students and their own kids, said Gorlewski, chair of the Department of Learning and Instruction.
Teacher-mothers also reported performing more “second-shift” activities, such as cooking, cleaning and childcare, in a study Gorlewski
U.S. mothers now spend more time with their children than moms did in the 1960s, a period when most did not work outside the home, she said.
When modern partners contribute more toward household work, mothers still do significantly more planning and managing, she said.
Gorlewski and co-author Mary Hermann, associate professor of counseling and special education at Virginia Commonwealth University,
discussed the pandemic-era opportunity to rethink the norms in education and family systems in a Teachers College Record commentary
“One positive outcome of this crisis is that respect for teachers has grown exponentially as parents and partners develop a greater
understanding of teachers’ daily work,” said Gorlewski.
An increasing national focus on test scores put teaching about personal growth and job skills on the sidelines, according to new UB-led research.
The study discovered the shift in priorities after analyzing the goals of principals at thousands of public, private and charter schools for
more than two decades.
The change can be traced to the test-based school accountability policies of the 1990s, which culminated with the statewide testing
mandates in the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.
“The balanced development of both academic and soft skills is crucial, not only for well-rounded child development in schools, but
also for career and life success,” said lead researcher Jaekyung Lee, GSE professor of counseling, school and educational psychology.
The study, in the March issue of Educational Administration Quarterly, is one of the few to examine the influence of education
policies on school principals, rather than on student achievement or teacher practices. Leaders’ goals are critical, said Lee, because they
guide performance by directing and motivating staff and students.
COVID-19 stay-at-home orders hurt the diet, sleep and physical activity routines of children with obesity around the world, according to new UB research.
The study, published in April in Obesity, examined 41 overweight children through March and April in Verona, Italy.
Compared to behaviors recorded the previous year, each day they ate an extra meal, slept an extra half hour and added about five hours of screen time. They also ate more red meat and junk food, drank more sugary drinks and moved around less. Physical activity decreased by more than two hours a week.
Children and adolescents have an easier time controlling weight when schools are open, said Myles Faith, UB childhood obesity expert and study co-author.
“School environments provide structure and routine around mealtimes, physical activity and sleep—three predominant lifestyle factors implicated in obesity risk,” said Faith, GSE professor and chair of the Counseling, School and Educational Psychology Department.
He and colleagues are now in the midst of a National Institutes of Health-funded study testing a home-based treatment for childhood obesity using telemedicine technology.
Naming infectious diseases after specific people or places perpetuates xenophobia around the globe, according to Tiffany Karalis Noel, a UB GSE expert on sociocultural inequity.
References to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan virus” or “China virus” have contributed to thousands of incidences of harassment and assault against people of Asian descent. The problem is exacerbated by sensationalist media stories, she said.
“This fear of unknown diseases is a part of human nature, especially when they are deadly and highly infectious,” said Karalis Noel, clinical assistant professor of learning and instruction.
“Stigmatization of COVID-19, led by some politicians, such as Donald Trump, might have reinforced such discrimination and social exclusion,” she said. “It is paramount to recognize the discriminatory behaviors that accompany fear, as they damage not only the sociocultural fabric in the long run, but they also compromise present efforts to contain the disease.”
In a commentary published this year in Social Sciences & Humanities Open, Karalis Noel explored the connection between xenophobia and disease throughout history. She called on social scientists and education professionals to communicate accurate information with students and people in the community. She also stressed the importance of media monitoring to help mitigate the spread of misinformation and establish trust with people who may be affected by related discrimination.