Pandemic Further Worsens Vicious Cycle For Low-Income Students

Already underprivileged at the start, many distant students in low-income households had to worry about stable internet connections, available devices to connect to school sessions, and personalized attention and help with homework or subjects. difficult.

The negative effects of the pandemic reinforce an already vicious circle: Students from low-income households tend to have access to fewer opportunities for educational enrichment and are more likely to attend historically underfunded schools.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the well-documented opportunity gaps that disadvantage low-income students compared to their better-off peers,” Emma Garcia and Elaine Weiss of the Economic Policy Institute wrote in September. They defined opportunity gaps as limits in access to conditions and resources that enhance learning and development.
Socio-economic factors are among the biggest drivers of children’s academic success, Garcia and Weiss found in a 2017 study. Children who fell behind in their early education rarely make up for lost ground, they said.
It can damage people’s wealth for life: Higher educational attainment correlates with lower poverty rates, according to the Census Bureau. A 2018 article from Congress Research Service showed that 78.9% of working-age adults living in poverty in the United States had at most a high school diploma – a much higher percentage than in the general population, where only 56% of people had at most plus a high school diploma.

The opportunity gap that Garcia and Weiss warned about has always existed – but it has worsened with the pandemic.

“This is nothing new,” Garcia, who focuses on education policy in his work as an economist, told CNN Business. But the consequences of the pandemic will worsen and last beyond the short term, she said.

For example, the Center for American Progress said the pandemic has exacerbated the The school divide between blacks and whites: Black households were more likely to experience job losses as a result of the pandemic, leading to erosion of wealth and affecting children’s ability to learn.

“Children are resilient and they are learning something, so the question is going to be what each child has learned. It is going to be very different,” said Betsey Stevenson, professor of public policy and economics at the University of Canada. Michigan who served President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

While some children may have progressed in a particular subject during distance learning, others are now further behind than before the pandemic.

Double whammy for low-income households

In many ways, the pandemic was a perfect storm for low-income households: these parents were more likely to lose their jobs or be on the front lines as essential workers, while also having less household wealth. In comparison, parents from higher-income households were more likely to have established careers and be able to work remotely.

“We have this forked society where some parents of kids are in their twenties and some parents of kids are in their 40s,” Stevenson said. And that makes a difference when it comes to household wealth and educational opportunities for children.

This too was a problem before the pandemic. But it got worse because of it.

“Slightly older people have more established working lives. It just means higher incomes,” Stevenson said. “Everyone earns less in their twenties than in their thirties. And for people with a higher education, that curve is steeper.”

On top of that, people with higher education levels tend to delay children’s education for longer, further compounding wealth inequality between younger and older parents.

Unequal return to school

Re-engaging students after more than a year in non-traditional learning scenarios will be a daunting challenge for educators and the government.

Personalized learning for students and increased resources for schools and teachers are obvious ways to start tackling this problem, Garcia said. But the gaps in pandemic opportunity cannot be addressed with a one-size-fits-all approach.

“This is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is about learning and understanding how children learned and developed during the pandemic,” Garcia said.

Worse yet, the students most likely to benefit from re-engagement initiatives are also more likely to be in areas where schools are historically underfunded, she added.

It is too early to say how the effects of the pandemic will play out on the generation of schoolchildren who have gone through Covid-19. Those who can’t catch up on the hardware could still be at a disadvantage as they enter adulthood.

Plus, some evidence is starting to show an increase in high school dropouts, Garcia said, citing enrollment data compiled by Education week which revealed that U.S. public schools have lost 1.3 million students in the past year. For some students, part-time jobs may have turned into full-time jobs, for example. Some help support their families.

“This will be the case that some children just won’t find their way back to school,” Garcia said.

Action before data

The pandemic was so sudden and devastating that policymakers had to make plans before much of the data detailing the damage became available. The situation is similar here.

“We need to distribute a lot of resources over the next three years to make sure our children are healed and healed from the pandemic,” Stevenson said.

“You may or may not measure a student’s lead or lag. But those disparities are increasing. So if you really want to intervene, you have to think about the strategies that are necessary,” Garcia added.

This might require more leadership from local school districts or incentives provided by the state or even the federal government to fill in the gaps.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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