As Coronavirus continues its march through America, some economic and social consequences become apparent. One of these is the impact of quarantine measures on the educational system. It's big, it's bad, and it's scary. Not all schools are opening for the fall semester. Each state has its own policies regarding the school lockdowns and the modes to deliver education, and some states decide to keep their children home. For example, in California, the governor ordered schools to stay closed for the fall season until COVID spread lessens. In Alabama, around one-third of all public schools in Alabama will not open doors for children this fall season. They offer an online-only option of schooling. Other districts allow both in-person and remote schooling, with parents deciding which option to choose. As of September, about 40% of parents in such districts chose to keep their children home, being apprehensive of COVID-19.
However, little do these parents know that remote education is not nearly as effective as in-school one. By now, we have a tiny amount of studies looking into the effectiveness of online education. The results of these studies are inconclusive, to say the least. That is, many studies show that online education is not nearly as effective as traditional face-to-face schooling. Then some research points out that online schooling can be as effective as in-person schooling. However, most of these studies were done on students, employees, and other adults who are highly motivated to study on their own. The current situation with COVID is different. The epidemic forced the shutdown of schools, including primary and middle schools. Many of these children now have no other options than to study online. But young children are very different from adult students. They lack attention control and motivation to be able to learn effectively without adult supervision. And now, they are supposed to learn writing, math, and other complex skills entirely via some web chats. There are many problems with this situation.
First, some children are left at home without proper supervision, as their parents cannot afford to skip work to look after them. Second, some children do not have a dedicated study place and get constantly distracted by siblings and other family members. And the most obvious problem is that not everybody has computers, tablets, or high-speed Internet to access online conferences, videos, and other study materials. You might be surprised, but about one-fourth of Americans in rural areas do not have access to quality Internet. What's even more interesting, if we look at the example of Alabama, those districts that announced online-only schooling are among the poorest districts, populated by a high percentage of minorities and low-income families.
One-fourth of children in rural areas do not have access to Internet for online schooling
So while more wealthy districts enjoy in-person schooling and have the options between online and in-class, some of the poorest children of America will not attend school. They will be "schooled online," the officials say. It's a very original idea, taking into account that many of these poor children lack access to the Internet, computers, adequate supervision, or even any homework help from their parents. That is why the European Commission and the UN issued reports stating that educational disruption caused by COVID will lead to loss of learning and an increase in socio-economic learning inequality. And those reports were based only on spring 2019 disruption of several months. Since the US educational system is still in a state of suspended animation this fall semester, and probably the next one, it's hard to imagine the depth of the economic divide between our poor and rich children.
Educational disruption caused by COVID will lead to loss of learning and an increase in socio-economic learning inequality
So what can we do? What can you do, especially if you're among those parents whose children stay at home this fall? Do not count on the system, do your best to provide your kids with as much educational materials as possible now. If you can afford it, get a good Internet connection and some computer or tablet. If you cannot afford it, just try to get your children some good books or textbooks. You don't have to buy them, get them in your local library. Call to your school and tell them that you do not have an adequate Internet connection. Contact your local district authorities for aids and alternative means of education. Demand proper educational service! You are a citizen and a taxpayer, your children have a right to be educated, irrespective of your ability to provide broadband or a big-ass computer. Don't discount the problem, know that McKinsey and Company estimated that only a few months of schooling suspension in March-April could cause an earning disparity of up to 18%. And the negative consequences of school lockdown can last a lifetime for low-income children. And those estimates were based solely on the situation in March-May 2019. The consequences of staying at home this entire fall and winter can be catastrophic. Therefore we encourage you to take action and demand your local districts, schools and authorities to provide your children with their constitutional rights to education.
Demand proper education of your children, it's their constitutional right!