How COVID taught America about inequity in training – Harvard Gazette
The rate of restricted digital access for households was 42 percent during the shutdown last spring before dropping to about 31 percent in the fall, suggesting school districts have improved their adaptation to distance learning, according to an analysis by the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge of US Census Data. (In fact, Education Week and other sources reported that school districts across the country distributed millions of laptops, tablets, and Chromebooks in the months following the move.)
The report also highlights the level of racial and economic digital inequality. Black and Hispanic households with school-age children were 1.3 to 1.4 times more likely than whites to have limited access to computers and the Internet, and more than two in five low-income households had limited access. This is a problem that could have far-reaching consequences, given that young colored people are more likely to live in remote areas.
“We’re starting to understand that technology is a fundamental right,” Reimers said. “Without access to it, you can’t be part of society in the 21st century.” Too many students, he said, “have no connectivity. They have no devices or they have no domestic circumstances to support them. “
The topics go beyond technology. “It’s a wonderful thing to be in contact with other people, to have someone who says to you, ‘It’s great to see you. How’s it going at home? ‘”Said Reimers. “I’ve done 35 case studies of innovative practices around the world. They all prioritize social, emotional wellbeing. Check in with the kids. Make sure that there is a point of contact between a teacher and a student every day. “
The difference, according to Reville, becomes clear when you compare students from different economic backgrounds. Students whose parents “could afford to hire a tutor … can make up for that,” he said. “These kids are going to be pretty good at keeping up. On the other hand, if you’re in a single family and mom has two or three jobs bringing food to the table, she can’t be home. It is impossible for her to keep up and keep her children connected.
“If you lose the connection, you lose the child.”
“COVID has just shown how serious these inequalities are,” said GSE Dean Bridget Long, the Saris Professor of Education and Business. “It has disproportionately harmed low-income students, students with special needs and underserved school systems.”
This disorder runs through the entire educational process, from elementary school students (some of whom have simply stopped logging into their online courses) to a decline in attendance at higher education. Community colleges, for example, have “traditionally been a gateway for low-income students” into professional classes, said Long, whose research focuses on issues of affordability and access. “COVID just made all of these problems ten times worse,” she said. “Enrollments have fallen the most there.”
These losses not only illustrate such differences, but also underscore a structural problem in public education. Many schools are underserved and the main reason is sources of school funding. A 2019 study found that predominantly white counties received $ 223 billion more than their non-white counterparts, who serve about the same number of students. The discrepancy is because property taxes are the main source of funding for schools, and white districts tend to be more affluent than colored ones.
The problem of resources extends beyond teachers, assistants, equipment and materials as schools become increasingly responsible, from the basics of education to feeding and maintaining the mental health of students and their families.
“You think of schools and academics, but what really made COVID clear is that schools are doing so much more,” Long said. A child’s school, she emphasized, “is social, emotional support. It’s security. It’s the food system. It’s health care. “