The Impending Educational Gap
The longterm effects of COVID-19, keep mounting. Now, we are facing the fact it may create a larger gap between upper and middle social classes in the United States. Parents across the nation are concerned about how their children will progress educationally. Parents in the middle to lower class who cannot work from home or have multiple jobs share those insecurities on a different level.
"Parents that will be affected the most will be parents of medium to lower income. These parents won't be able to get the level of education that the children of parents with more financial means will get, creating a larger social gap." Leslie Grossman, a concerned citizen said during an in-person interview.
Fairfax County Public School Board of Education (FCPS) came up with a plan for the upcoming school year, for the education of students K-12 during a meeting held on June 23, 2020. The plan offered families two choices:
“Full-time online instruction. Students will take part in virtual, face to face instruction four days a week.” Or, “Students will receive at least two full days of instruction in school each week. Students will be engaged in independent study and work on the days they are not in the school building,” according to The “Return to School” page on the FCPS official webpage.
Many parents were upset about their the lack of input regarding FCPS’s plan and felt that FCPS showed no consideration toward the student and their familes situational circumstances.
Gabriella Cashish, a single working mother said, "My 10-year-old boy is autistic, and we completely failed at the distance learning last year. My 8-year-old son is dyslexic, and I tried my hardest with him. Luckily, his mentor at school helped me out with the assignments and tasks. Finally, my upcoming kindergartener has to have excessive speech therapy for hearing loss, so I am panicked for the next year."
Parents requested information from FCPS to audit the inconsistent educational results from the school distance learning of the 2019 school year. A law firm was hired to conduct an independent study of the impact the transition to online learning had on students. Parents were promised the results of the audit within a few weeks. However, Superintendent Scott Brabrand has made no mention of the independent audit since his initial announcement of it, via email on April 20, 2020. Superintendent Brabrand formed the “Superintendent’s Technology Advisory Council” to address the upcoming school year educational platforms, issues, and challenges.
Parents fear how the lack of a continuous education will impact their children's future, not having standardized, regulated education and schedules for K-12 students. Many feel their children will be at a disadvantage when it comes to those with the financial means that can afford private learning, individualized programs, and teaching.
The social implications of knowledge becoming more class-driven in terms of affordability while the nation is torn on how to run and progress with the education of hundreds and thousands, may create a social, monetary and educational disbalance in the near future.
By Alex Fernandez