Remote Learning Is Failing Low-Income And Special Needs Kids

by Cassandra Stone
Originally Published: 
Schoolgirl working on work sheet

The survey says four out of 10 of the poorest U.S. students are accessing remote learning as little as once a week or less

More than 1,500 families around the country participated in a survey regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on kids’ education. According to the survey, the success of remote learning is largely dependent on family income, with large learning gaps between high and low-income students.

The survey was performed by ParentsTogether Action, a national parent-led organization with over two million members. It shows that remote learning is jeopardizing the education of the country’s most vulnerable students — kids from lower-income families and those with special needs. According to ParentsTogether, the coronavirus crisis has exposed and exacerbated existing inequities and millions of families have been left without the resources they need to help their kids succeed.

Many schools in the U.S. switched to remote or distance learning at the onset of the pandemic back in mid-March. While remote learning has enabled students to continue their education or finish their school year in the safest way possible for their physical health, it’s magnified the inequality and disadvantages between kids of different backgrounds.

For example, kids from homes with incomes of less than $25,000 a year are ten times more likely to be doing little to no remote learning than their peers from homes making more than $100,000 a year. And 13% of those from low-income homes have either no device or no internet, compared to 1% of families with incomes greater than $50,000. And nearly 40% of parents whose kids should be receiving individualized support say they are not receiving any support at all.

“This pandemic has turned the cracks in our education system into an abyss that threatens to swallow our most vulnerable kids. As school closes for summer, Congress must take urgent action to give students access to the resources they desperately need before school begins again in the fall,” said Justin Ruben, Co-Director of ParentsTogether Action. “As state budgets are slashed, our schools are having to cut programs and teachers at an alarming rate. Without a vast increase in federal funding so our schools can provide vital services, an entire generation of kids are going to be left behind.”

Just 20% of parents surveyed whose children have an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) or are entitled to other special education services say that they are receiving those services. Almost 40% say they aren’t receiving any support at all from their school district. Only one in five families say their children are receiving the support they’re entitled to.

In order to find a solution for all families during this ongoing crisis, ParentsTogether Action is supporting a letter signed by dozens of organizations representing teachers, principals, and parents for at least $175 billion more for K-12 schools.

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