Education Collection

The Year in Review: Big Education Stories of 2021

EdWeek’s 10 (or so) most popular stories of 2021

Looking back on the stories that resonated most with educators in 2021, it’s clear just how challenging this year was for America’s teachers and school leaders.

COVID-19 and pandemic-related interruptions to schooling were not new in 2021. Neither was having to navigate divisive political topics in schools and classrooms.

Still, disruption and tension seemed to be constant companions this year.

The Education Week staff wants to wish a Happy New Year to all the dedicated and resilient educators out there. (The list below should remind you just how much you’ve overcome.)

Here are 10 — or so — of Education Week’s most popular stories in 2021.

What Is Critical Race Theory, and Why Is It Under Attack?
Debates about critical race theory made their way into school board meetings, classrooms, and nightly news broadcasts. This story, Education Week's most read of 2021, explained the academic concept. Read more.

Also Popular: Map: Where Critical Race Theory Is Under Attack
School Shootings in 2021: How Many and Where
Education Week began tracking school shootings in 2018. This year, we saw the highest number of incidents yet. Read more.

See Also: School Shootings in 2021: 4 Takeaways, in Charts
No Bus Drivers, Custodians, or Subs. What's Really Behind Schools' Staffing Shortages?
Dismal pay, certification requirements, and longstanding disrespect caused many classified workers to quit this year. Read more.

Also Popular: How Staff Shortages Are Crushing Schools
Teachers Are Not OK, Even Though We Need Them to Be
The pandemic put teachers through the wringer, forcing administrators to think about staff well-being differently. Read more.

Also Popular: Teachers Want Their Administrators to Teach. Here’s Why
Where Teachers Are Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine
Access to vaccines was one of 2021's big stories. At the time, Education Week tracked plans for vaccinating K-12 educators. Read more.

See Also: Teachers Who Refuse to Comply With Vaccine Mandates Won’t Face Consequences in Many Places
New Curriculum Review Gives Failing Marks to Two Popular Reading Programs
Two of the nation's most-used literacy programs faced new criticism in 2021. Read more.

From the Archives: The Most Popular Reading Programs Aren’t Backed by Science
Educators We Lost to COVID, 2020-2022
In this memorial first started in 2020, we remember some of the dedicated educators lost to their communities and to the field. Read more.

See Also: We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who’ve Died of COVID-19
Students Respond to Adults' Fixation on 'Learning Loss'
There was a lot of talk about students suffering “learning loss” because of the pandemic. What did students have to say about it? Read more.

See Also: Student Learning Declined This Year, Especially for the Most Vulnerable Kids, Data Shows
The Dr. Seuss Controversy: What Educators Need to Know
The business that manages Dr. Seuss' work and legacy announced this year they will cease publishing six books due to racist stereotypes and offensive content. Read more.

From the Archives: Is ‘The Cat in the Hat’ Racist?
Caring for Students in the Wake of a Traumatic News Event
Helping students unpack emotions in the wake of troubling news events was top of mind for educators after pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Read more.

See Also: Insurgency at the U.S. Capitol: A Dreaded, Real-Life Lesson Facing Teachers