A story out of Maury County highlights the education disparities we all know about. It also makes clear the problem of inequality is societal and systemic. It’s something we can conveniently ignore when school is in session because we know then all the kids are being fed and watched and loved. We aren’t forced to see the impacts of wage stagnation, wealth consolidation, and a lack of access to health care.
Here’s more from the Columbia Daily Herald:
“It took this crisis to realize that we are working on two very different dynamics in our districts,” Jennifer Enk, president of the education association, told members of the Maury County Board of Education during an online board meeting this month. “Going forward, this is something that our state and our local [district] really has to look at.”
She said the ongoing stay-at-home order has shown that students’ access to the internet and the devices to access it dramatically differs across the county.
After encouraging the school district to continue offering stipends to local educators who prepare work packets for students, Enk recommends incoming funds from the federal government be used to “equal the playing field” for the county’s students.
Maury County Superintendent of Schools Chris Marczak previously told The Daily Herald that in the northern portion of the county, in the surrounding Spring Hill area, about 10% of the school district’s students live in a home without internet. In Columbia, the county seat located in the center of the region, 24% of the school districts students don’t have internet at home.
High concentrations of poverty, not racial segregation, entirely account for the racial achievement gap in U.S. schools, a new study finds.
The research, released Monday, looked at the achievement gap between white students, who tend to have higher scores, and black and Hispanic students, who tend to have lower scores. Researchers with Stanford University wanted to know whether those gaps are driven by widespread segregation in schools or something else.
They found that the gaps were “completely accounted for” by poverty, with students in high-poverty schools performing worse than those from schools with children from wealthier families.
So, while policymakers create plans focused on how much time kids are in school buildings and how to ensure they get to take tests, the real problems remain ignored.
Meanwhile, privatizing predators are on the prowl, ready to use the COVID-19 pandemic to open the doors to MORE taxpayer resources with little oversight or accountability.
Instead of trying to line the pockets of wealthy edu-profiteers, Tennessee policymakers should move forward with solutions that address the underlying challenges:
Addressing poverty would mean providing access to jobs that pay a living wage as well as ensuring every Tennessean had access to health care. Our state leads the nation in number of people working at the minimum wage. We lead the nation in medical bankruptcies. We continue to refuse Medicaid expansion and most of our elected leaders at the federal level are resisting the push for Medicare for All.
Yes, COVID-19 has highlighted inequality in our schools and beyond. It’s also highlighted the willingness of our top policymakers to simply walk by on the other side while their neighbors suffer.
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