Today our nation is confronting longstanding educational opportunity and achievement gaps as a global pandemic lays bare these inequities in new ways. Of the more than 50 million school-age children who will begin school this fall, many in minority and low-income communities will be unable to return to school in substantial part because of the decades of neglect of the facilities in which they are forced to learn. Too often these facilities have poor ventilation, unworking bathroom sinks, and substandard infrastructure. As a result, trying to create the conditions that would make it safe to return to these buildings during a pandemic has proved impossible and has been one of the reasons that many districts are forced to rely on virtual learning. Although virtual learning can reduce exposure to the coronavirus, it is increasing educational opportunity and achievement gaps. Why? Many minority and working-class families have less access to technology, the support at home to help children navigate online learning, and the time and resources to supplement educational opportunities when schools fall short. In addition, online teaching varies in quality, and studies confirm it does not consistently deliver the results of in-person instruction.
Kimberly J. Robinson, Understanding Our Common Interests in Educational Excellence and Equity, Harvard Law Review Blog (2020).