Educational Equity During Crisis

Educational Equity During Crisis

As everyone scrambles to figure out how to continue our students’ education we need to be very careful.  If all state and federal deadlines haven’t either been waved they will be, including IEPs as well as SBAC and ELPAC testing.  Even if somehow something has slipped by the Governor’s or President’s proclamations none of us will be held personally liable as a result of not being able to do our job during this unprecedented time. That being said we are teachers and passionate about our craft and our students.  We want to do our part to help our students continue their educational journey. To that end we must ensure that we are not complicit and further exacerbate an already inequitable and racist system. Most our students come from families that struggled in our economy even before this crisis and many will be losing their jobs and scrambling to put food on the table.  When this situation normalizes, we will not be judged by which child’s life we made better but by whose we made worse. 

Online education may help to fill some of the void of missing our classes only if every student has access to an acceptable device and internet access. Ours currently do not. While you may have seen lots of kids with phones that doesn’t mean that they have a data plan or internet access at home. Lots have a very old phone that they use to access free wifi only. Of course some don’t even have that. If any of us create an online educational platform for students we are discriminating against the least among us.  Until safe sustainable access is provided for all of our students we can not be complicit in not just violating California’s equity law (William’s Act) but the basic human right of the children we have been entrusted to educate. 

Management must do their job. Our jobs are to educate students. Management’s job is to support that education by ensuring that both teachers and students have what they need. Once management is able to provide our students with universal access to the necessary technology we can then work together to help our students. Thankfully we have a union to not only protect us from poorly thought out, knee jerk management reactions but to protect our students as well. This is the time where we must stand together for all of our members and our students. Good luck everyone, may you and your family’s come through this crisis.