- Though 77% of parents in New Jersey feel their child’s school is handling the coronavirus situation well, only 42% consider remote learning a success, according to a survey conducted by JerseyCAN and the New Jersey Children’s Foundation. Of those responding, 66% said remote learning is better this fall than in the spring, but the study indicates low-income Black and Latinx students are struggling more than their White peers.
- Parents of color are more likely to say their students are learning in a fully remote environment, which equates to 70% of Black, 61% of Latinx and 72% of low-income students who are fully remote compared to 52% of students statewide. Low-income parents and parents of color are also more concerned about their child contracting the virus (88%, compared to 52% of higher-income parents who report being very concerned).
- When it comes to additional support, 54% of low-income Black parents and 56% of Latinx low-income parents say their child will need it to have a successful school year, compared to 45% of higher-income parents. Of parents who made more than $50,000 a year, 24% relied on online learning tools to help teach their child, compared to 14% of those making less than $50,000 a year. Internet access is also a significant concern for 64% of low-income families and 75% of low-income Black parents.
The results of the New Jersey survey fit into a larger trend. A ParentsTogether Action survey similarly found lower-income parents are 10 times more likely to say their child is doing little or no remote learning compared to higher-income parents. Data from that survey indicates 13% of lower-income households lack a device or internet access, compared to 1% of students from families making more than $50,000 a year.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, marginalized students were modestly closing the equity gap. The disruption of school closures has since thrown a wrench into that progress. When schools closed, lower-income students lacked the same level of access to technology as their higher-income peers. While higher-income families formed pods and hired tutors, some lower-income students couldn’t or wouldn’t log in to classes. According Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia), only 60-70% of students in these communities are logging in to class. Some stakeholders say this issue has more to do with structural racism than individual student outcomes.
To reverse the trend of learning loss among the more at-risk students, districts are implementing interventions such as placing hotspots near high-density apartment complexes and creating learning hubs for those who don’t have connectivity at home.
Yet for some disenfranchised Black and Latinx students, remote learning is more of a blessing than a curse. For students who don’t feel safe at school, online learning allows them to focus on their education instead of social issues like staying out of trouble or dealing with peers.