As schools across the nation remain shuttered due to COVID-19, it’s not just the kids that are confused, it’s their parents. People who have been re-enrolled not as students but as teachers for their in-home classroom. People that haven’t been to grammar school in decades. Now they are thrust into learning common core math which is just a bungled way of carrying a number we called a remainder at one time. If that’s not enough then we have a deep digital divide between social classes that deepens even into neighborhoods. The digital divide for children doesn’t just start in the school systems that are racially and socially divided with resources, it begins with a lack of education for the parents. If we want our future generations to succeed we must provide educational resources for parents in two specific ways-community and public school parental classes.
Pew research found that every socio-economic class has been impacted by one parent becoming a teacher in the home for their child’s online courses. That’s where the likeness ends as 64% of lower-income parents fear their children’s progress will fall behind at home. These parents may be afraid of failure due to a lack of technology adaptation in lower-income homes. According to another Pew study, only 18% of low-income families had updated technology including only 54% with home computers. Students in low-income homes are forced to use their parent’s phones for class instruction without the ability to download many assignments. That’s how and why the digital divide starts at home.
As we venture into the 21st Century we’ll need to begin supporting parents to directly support the future of America with courses and technology for parents. From California to Chicago, public school students will be receiving Chrome books and free wifi due to the COVID-19 disruption. Governors of New York and Illinois are touting the idea of keeping kids at-home until we are clear of the global health pandemic. As we have been informed, pandemics last between 18 months and five years so there’s no rush to put 35 students plus teachers, teachers aides, etc back into the classroom. Congress must enhance and expand upon the decades-old No Child Left Behind Act to a new No Family Left Behind Act which legislates the purchasing power of free computers and wifi for all public school children across the nation permanently. We didn’t need a pandemic to prove that lower-income students didn’t have the resources nor will the upcoming economic collapse prepare middle-income families for technological advancement in the home. If every kid/family has a computer in their home with wifi and downloadable content for learning than parents cane use the resources to pay a mortgage, rent, or buy groceries instead of making the difficult choice of bypassing educational needs. It’s much cheaper and smarter to ensure a good education for future American leaders and business owners than to have a country lagging behind in the modern abilities of the marketplace.
Parental courses to bridge the digital divide are as important as the computer to learn from. Chicago has Parent Universities which create courses for parents to attend that include adult GED and literacy. Lest we never forget that learning disabilities and the means to provide support is relatively new for American schools. Dyslexia and other learning issues were largely ignored or child were put in “learning disabled” classes with little success. These same children are now parents trying to lead educational initiatives without resources again. The Parent Universities also include guides for parents on how to support their children’s education like teaching the meaning and importance of storytime, reading logs, everyday science connections, and history. A part of the No Family Left Behind Act should include funding for these types of universities at designated public schools in each neighborhood, borough, district, or bound area to encompass and celebrate learning as a familial activity. These classes could be taught by teachers already in the public school system with a stipend for each class. This way schools would save on hiring while making a deeper connection between student, teacher, and parent. Let’s make school a family center.
The No Family Left Behind Act is a great idea for anyone to use in their own municipality. It doesn’t have to be a Congressional Act to work for your community. Contact your local school superintendent or legislator and discuss your ideas to expand this to strengthen your community, family, and children. Stay safe and healthy America!
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