"We Are the World" is a 1985 classic written by the late Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. This song speaks of uniting the world when we need it most. Fast-forward 35 years later and those words seem more fitting for our current season.
The covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the world and resulted in Arkansas schools being closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic school year. The closing has shaken not only the parents as they try to navigate resources for unexpected homeschooling, but also teachers and school administrators.
This pandemic has left parents and educators wondering what the possible effects of long school closures on children's short-term learning and long-term success might be, especially for children who lack sufficient resources.
There is no surprise that one size does not fit all when it comes to education. Unfortunately, in this case, the achievement gap has been stretched even more due to a number of disparities, one being socioeconomic status. Children with two college-educated parents may get a lot more help and enrichment than those who don't, especially if their parents are financially stable and have access to technology on top of flexible work schedules.
It is understood that school leaders and teachers are working tirelessly to provide all children with the absolute best accommodations possible during these unforeseen circumstances, such as distributing Chromebooks to families and other Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMIs). This has been the most convenient approach to keep children engaged in learning during this unexpected long-term closure.
After posing a survey to parents recently, I've discovered some interesting concerns. While some parents are still employed, either working from home or doing essential work outside the home, all are trying to find balance through this new normal of homeschooling. Most parents stated that they are struggling with effective ways to engage and assist their children with their assigned work, whether it is through online sites or AMI packets. Though teachers are available for assistance, teachers are also trying to balance work and home life during this pandemic, especially if they have children of their own.
I believe this is a time for families, friends, and community members to come together and be change agents in children's lives. It is crucial that teachers and parents communicate, openly and honestly, in order to make the best decisions for students.
We must work to prevent hopelessness and offer real solutions, providing both parents and children with good educational opportunities and resources. The solution is simple: We have to be willing to invest in our children for a long-term benefit. I want to help parents equip their children because they are the most important people in the child's life. Like the song said, "We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving."
Brenttia O. Clayton is a fourth-grade ELA Teacher, 2020 Teacher of the Year, and founder of Teachable Moments.
Editorial on 05/21/2020