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Educational Disparities the Pandemic has Highlighted

Remote learning, on all educational levels, has proven to be quite interesting. I have younger brothers in elementary school at the moment, and I have to say, I’m a little disappointed in the public education system’s approach to the situation. While I know that schools are doing the best they can to provide an education to their students given the circumstances, I have noticed some educational inequities that have only been highlighted during this pandemic.

 

Unfortunately, it’s really no secret that families with lower income don’t always have access to all the resources that other households may have, but now that students are learning from home, this is just one of the many issues brought to greater light. In most districts, schools are giving families laptops in order to ensure every student has one to complete their work. However, how are schools ensuring that students even have a connection to the internet? While my parents have Wi-Fi at home and they don’t have to worry about this for my brothers, I wonder whether schools are providing students with some sort of hotspot in order to still be able to learn from home. Families with a lower-income must be struggling right now, as technology isn’t cheap and many may not have access to it.

 

Another thing many school districts aren’t taking into account is that not every parent has the ability to work from home. Both of my parents were lucky to keep their jobs amidst the pandemic, but their jobs aren’t ones that can be done remotely. Just like hundreds of other parents, they can’t stay home during the day to help the kids log onto meetings, stay focused on their class, or even let them be without supervision.  Are parents supposed to choose between an income to provide for their child, and staying home to ensure their students can still receive a good education? Even worse, many teachers are just leaving the responsibility of teaching to parents, and I feel like they do not take into account different home situations. Eventually, this could lead to an educational gap between students in the same grade.

 

My parents are immigrants and growing up, they never really helped my sister and me with our homework because of the language barrier. There are thousands of other immigrant families across the country that deal with the same issue. With the remote learning approach many districts have taken, teaching has now become something parents are supposed to be even more involved in. What many districts are failing to consider, is that many of their students can’t rely on an adult at home to educate them due to different barriers. So, are students with immigrant parents supposed to just try their best on their own and hope it works out?

 

Children from the age of 5 who are learning how to read are being expected to understand the building blocks of language without proper guidance. They’re a child. They require more attention and hands-on learning. Some children don’t have the luxury of having someone at home who can explain the lessons in-depth, let alone from a parent who may not understand the material themselves. 

 


laptop open on white desk with pink and golden accents
Photo by Arnel Hasanovic from Unsplash

 

A lot of low-income families relied on their schools’ free lunch program in order to make sure their child ate. Schools are aware of this,  and as such have provided a week’s worth of lunches for students if they need them. But, a lot of schools are offering them only for pick up. What about the families that may not be able to afford a vehicle? Or the families that have adults who work during the school day, and can’t leave work to pick up food so their child can still be fed?

 

My purpose in bringing these issues up is not to criticize any school district’s plan for remote learning. These are inequities that were present even when schools weren’t remote, but are now are only being highlighted due to the pandemic. It leads me to wonder what or if schools will do anything to address these issues. This is something I have thought about a lot during quarantine, one that hits close to home since my two younger brothers are currently facing these issues. While I know school districts are doing the best they can to try and continue to provide children with an education, I can’t help but wonder what the future generation is going to look like with an educational gap I’m sure will be present. I truly believe that as a result of the country’s way of dealing with the pandemic, there will be consequences. Given many district models on remote learning and all the discrepancies they bring, it’s hard to believe that every child is going to be at the same education level at the end of the year. How can they be, when there are so many different home situations that are affecting their learning.

 

My reflection on the public school system’s approach to remote learning leads me to wonder if school districts are really taking into account every students’ needs, ensuring that each child is considered a priority. I wonder if schools will adapt to a different method of remote learning over time, or if they just stick to models they have in place already. Nonetheless, I hope that the inequities in education that have only been highlighted amidst the COVID-19 pandemic will become a topic of conversation now, to enable that all students will receive the best public education they can.  

marina martinez

Washington '22

Marina is a senior at the UW and is majoring in Sociology with a minor in Writing. Marina is a Washington native and is passionate about all things social justice, defeating the patriarchy, and writing. In her free time, she loves binge-watching tv shows, scrolling through tik tok, thrift shopping and napping.
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