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In a black suit and red bowtie,

Jason Finuliar stood by a fountain at Santa Clara University as his mother snapped a photo. It was December 2018, and the young speech competitor had just placed fourth in a California tournament, qualifying him for nationals. But less than two years later, the promising, gifted student's smile had faded — and so had his dreams. Just weeks into remote learning in spring 2020, Jason stopped attending his high school's virtual classes. By the middle of the following year, he had descended into academic failure and depression. After months in which he had trouble getting out of bed, plagued by thoughts of suicide, he spent 10 days in a residential facility.

I felt so worthless,” he said. “I had no clue when things were going to go back to normal.”

Linda Jacobson has the heart-wrenching story of a young man whose mental health was shattered after COVID sent schools into lockdown — and his long road back from trauma.

Student Mental Health

Virtual Nightmare: One Student’s Journey Through the Pandemic

For Jason Finuliar, a California teen whose Bay Area school district was among those shuttered the longest, recovery from the pandemic has been painful and slow. Once a happy, high-achieving student, he descended into academic failure and a depression so severe that he spent 10 days in a residential mental health facility. “I felt so worthless,” he said. It’s taking compassionate counselors, professional help and parents determined to save their son for Jason to regain hope for the future. Linda Jacobson reports. 


Go Deeper:

Check out the latest episode of the Route K-12 Podcast: Exploring Education Recovery to hear from Linda Jacobson, Senior Writer for The 74.
Linda shares her unique perspective on education recovery and how The 74 approaches stories about student assessments and how federal recovery funds are spent on schools. Look for new episodes on, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or YouTube.

Partner Post

Rethinking High School in Indiana

The typical high school follows a traditional structure: students attend about seven classes a day for a whole semester, in separate subjects like English, science, math or social studies. But at Purdue Polytechnic High School in Indianapolis, students choose projects every eight weeks that often combine subjects or involve collaboration with local industry leaders. Purdue Polytechnic opened in 2017, after being selected as an XQ Super School. Its goal was to boost the number of students from underrepresented backgrounds attending Purdue University and going on to high-paying STEM careers. It’s done that by reimagining the way high school is structured. Read more from XQ Institute’s Beth Fertig about how Purdue Polytechnic is making it happen.




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That means your gift can have double the impact, AND you will be able to feel doubly good about helping the cause of nonprofit, fact-based journalism. Please give by pressing the red button.


Big Picture

Teachers Reported More COVID Strain than Health Care Workers, Study Finds

A newly published study finds that during the worst months of the pandemic, teachers were much more likely to experience anxiety than other workers — even those fighting COVID on the front lines. The research, encompassing millions of responses to a daily survey created by Facebook and Carnegie Mellon University, also showed that teachers working remotely reported more feelings of depression and isolation than those delivering in-person instruction. One researcher told Kevin Mahnken that the pandemic's uncertainty may have had a unique effect on school employees.

Read More:

  • Stressing the System: Analysis — Educators’ Poor Morale Matters, Even If They Don’t Quit. Here’s Why
  • Big Picture: Survey — More than Half of Teachers Felt Less Successful After COVID-19

School Funding

NC High Court Puts Down a ‘Flag Post’ in Long-Running School Funding Case


After almost 30 years of litigation, North Carolina’s top court has compelled the state to turn over almost $800 million to the state’s education system, taking the matter out of the legislature’s hands. Republican lawmakers have called the ruling “unprecedented and unconstitutional.” But law professor Derek Black described the decision as a “flag post” that other states grappling with school finance cases will discuss, “whether they agree with it or not.” Linda Jacobson reports.



  • 'A System that Strands Children': After Months of Testimony, Historic Pennsylvania School Funding Trial Comes to a Close — With Huge Consequences for Low-Income Kids
  • From the 2020 Archive: An NFL-Star-Turned-Judge and a Federal Reserve President Want to Amend Minnesota’s Constitution to Require Quality Schools


New Study Details Challenges Facing Native Students, and How to Address Them


The uncertain fate of President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans is a serious cause for concern in Indian Country, where college affordability remains one of the greatest hurdles to economic mobility. A new study spells out the challenges facing Native students and details some ways, from funding for tuition to housing, food aid and financial literacy training, that schools can help make education truly affordable. Contributor Angelique Albert of Native Forward explains.


Read More:

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