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The Pandemic Could Widen The Achievement Gap. A Generation Of Students Is At Risk.

In New York City, the nation’s largest school district, teachers and students of color say they don’t feel safe returning to school. Many of their schools lack windows that open, an ample supply of soap, masks or working ventilation systems — making it nearly impossible to navigate live classes in the middle of a pandemic.

An hour’s drive from the U.S. Capitol, about 27,000 Baltimore city school children — 1 in 3 students — do not have computers vital for virtual school. Thousands lack reliable wireless internet access.

Yet in wealthy neighborhoods across the country, some students are safely continuing their education via small “learning pods,” where some affluent parents shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars for private instruction. It’s driving concerns that wealthier kids, many of whom live in predominantly white neighborhoods, are getting an unfair advantage.

The split is emblematic of a core truth of the American public education system: Gaps in access to school resources fall along racial and socioeconomic lines, and that gap has been magnified during virtual schooling. Majority nonwhite school districts receive an average of $23 billion less than predominantly white school districts, despite serving roughly the same number of students, according to a 2019 study from EdBuild, a school funding research group that closed in June.

 

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