This Time, We Really Should Think of the Children
The ongoing debate over whether to reopen K-12 schools amid the pandemic has pitted teachers unions against frustrated parents, white people against people of color (who are disproportionately at risk of COVID-19), and, of course, cautious Democratic politicians against the Trump administration, which pressured the Centers for Disease Control to support a reopening agenda, according to a new report in The New York Times.
But the one group whose opinions on the matter have received very little attention is the group most directly harmed by virtual learning: the students themselves.
There aren’t many youngsters writing op-eds for major newspapers, or appearing on cable news to air their views on reopening. Kindergarteners don’t usually attend town halls or participate in drive-by protests (except, occasionally, as props). “There are no polls of six-year-olds,” laments Meira Levinson, a professor of education at Harvard University.
Levinson’s comment appeared in a terrific, though horrendously depressing New Yorker article about “the children left behind by virtual learning.” Reporter Alex MacGillis notes that many private schools are currently open while public schools in large, inner-city districts are mostly closed. The result is a two-tiered education system: Wealthier families can provide their kids with something approaching a normal school experience, while the less privileged must “attend” school from home via Zoom. But for many kids, including and especially marginalized kids, virtual learning has been an absolute failure.
MacGillis details the frustrations of one specific Baltimore child who is frequently shuffled between the households of a mother with drug addiction and a grandmother with many other youngsters to wrangle. In-person education was a source of stability for this child—without it, he’s socially neglected, intellectually under-stimulated, and rapidly falling behind his peers. He may be protected from COVID-19, but he will likely be at greater risk of all sorts of socially undesirable consequences simply because he can’t go to school. It’s a heartbreaking story that probably describes the terrible situation in which countless economically disadvantaged children now find themselves.
Article from Latest – Reason.com