Giving Compass' Take:

• The Brown Center on Education Policy is releasing a new report that will highlight where and how American's opioid epidemic is impacting student learning. 

• The amount of exposure that children have to the opioid epidemic can affect their learning trajectory and critical educational outcomes. What can schools, communities, and local funders do to provide a buffer for students who may be vulnerable? 

• Read more about how to take action in the private sector against America's opioid crisis. 

Today, the Brown Center on Education Policy is releasing a new report on one of the unexplored effects of the opioid crisis: the link between the opioid epidemic and the educational outcomes of children in hard-hit areas. Written by Rajeev Darolia and John Tyler, the report suggests a need to be aware of the potentially negative effects of the opioid crisis on student learning, particularly in certain “hot spots” and rural areas.

The collateral consequences associated with the opioid epidemic—family members who suffer from substance-use disorder, parents lost to opioid overdose, diverted community resources, and the fraying of neighborhood social connections—have the potential to negatively impact the educational outcomes of children. This may especially be the case for children who grow up in communities hardest hit by the epidemic such as the Appalachian belt, impoverished rural communities, and the industrial Midwest, potentially exacerbating already existing educational achievement gaps and thus future economic opportunity. Research on the societal effects of the opioid epidemic, as opposed to the direct effects on individuals with opioid-use disorder, is just emerging. Darolia and Tyler’s report contributes to this less-established line of research by examining the effects of the opioid epidemic on a critical societal question—how indirect exposure to the epidemic may harm the education outcomes of children who live in communities most affected by the opioid crisis.

To approach this societal question, the authors examine the indirect linkage that could affect the education outcomes of younger children who live in families and/or communities that are struggling with the epidemic. In other words, the neighborhood context under consideration is the opioid epidemic in the community. Schooling can be impacted through both the children’s level of exposure to the consequences of the opioid epidemic and their vulnerability to those exposures—both of which likely differ across communities.

Read the full article about impact of the opioid epidemic on student's academics by Alejandro Vazquez-Martinez at Brookings.