Yes, another coronavirus post. However, this one is so crucial and as a student, is significant to me. This post is going to discuss (somewhat intensely) how the coronavirus is opening our eyes to the educational disparities in the country and within specific communities. I did a lot of research for this post because even though I was aware of this issue before, I realize now that I only knew the surface. It’s a major issue that correlates to so many other problems in the country and I’m glad that I’m finally dedicating a post to it. You can click here to see all of the COVID-19 related posts. There are A LOT of resources at the end of the post, more than usual, because of how deep this topic goes, that I highly recommend looking into if you want to further your understanding.
overview. To put it directly, as students move to online distance learning, low-income communities and students are facing challenges regarding their ability to continue learning with a lack of technological resources. While some schools, specifically private schools or schools in richer communities, are well equipped to handle distancing learning, other schools and students are left in difficult positions. This presents the issue of students being held back in their capabilities and education while others can continue on the path they are on.
how has the coronavirus opened our eyes? The coronavirus didn’t just invent or start this problem, it has been affecting students for a while. It’s just heightened the difficulties that students face because it’s a matter of health and mandatory restrictions.
my perspective. I want to be very transparent about my situation and perspective about this because I think it’s important to further prove the point of this post. I’m fortunate enough to go to a private school and have the resources to adequately learn through distance learning. However, I still think it’s important to be aware of this topic, regardless of socio-economic status and I want to make sure I use these resources I have to make a change positively.
what is the homework gap? The NEA defines the homework gap as “the inability to do schoolwork at home due to lack of internet access”. Even before the coronavirus impacted schools and provoked distance learning, this was a common obstacle seen in communities. The E-Rate Program has a large relationship with this specific consequence of educational disparities.
what is the achievement gap? The achievement gap refers to differences in academic performance in specific groups of students. The NEA identifies the students that are affected by this, including racial and ethnic minorities, students with disabilities, low-income families, etc. The difference between the achievement gap and the homework gap is that the achievement gap more broadly focuses on the backgrounds of students versus the technological preparedness of students.
what is E-Rate? The E-Rate program is meant to “bridge the gap between the digital divide” in education by providing funding and resources related to technology. More specifically, they focus on expanding wifi access in schools and libraries. The NEA says “the E-Rate is the best solution” as it “is established and has guardrails to ensure equitable distribution of emergency funds”.
what is being done to fix this? While I was reading and doing research for this post, I spent a considerable amount of time looking for solutions or actions that people have taken to try to fix this issue. I realized that although the news and websites do cover and write a lot about this topic, they often leave out what’s being done about it. And I learned that that absence was for a reason. As I mentioned before, this has been a prevalent and active issue for a while but continues to plague students. Educators and some lawmakers have tried to gain specific funding and have worked with HUD. However, there’s still a lack of aid being allocated to this issue and specific communities that are hit hardest. Another major opportunity for funding was presented to congress, with the recent stimulus bill, however, funding for schools and educators was excluded as certain lawmakers debated it out of the final bill. I highly recommend reading this article as it goes much more in detail about what needs to be done and also what congress has failed to do.
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image via Bellevue Reporter
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