A generation left behind? Online learning cheats poor students, Times survey finds

Times survey finds profound disparities in distance learning between children attending schools in high-poverty areas and those in more affluent ones.

8/14/2020 1:06:00 AM

Distributing technology and starting online classes is only part of the battle for students learning from home. Once students are connected, teachers must get them to participate and learn.

Times survey finds profound disparities in distance learning between children attending schools in high-poverty areas and those in more affluent ones.

Maria Viego and Cooper Glynn were thriving at their elementary schools. Maria, 10, adored the special certificates she earned volunteering to read to second-graders. Cooper, 9, loved being with his friends and how his teacher incorporated the video game Minecraft into lessons.

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But when their campuses shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, their experiences diverged dramatically.Maria is a student in the Coachella Valley Unified School District, where 90% of the children are from low-income families. She didn’t have a computer, so she and her mother tried using a cellphone to access her online class, but the connection kept dropping, and they gave up after a week. She did worksheets until June, when she at last received a computer, but struggled to understand the work. Now, as school starts again online, she has told her mother she’s frustrated and worried.

“She says she feels like she’s going to stay behind,” said her mother, Felicia Gonzalez, who has been battling COVID-19.AdvertisementAdvertisementCooper, who attends school in the Las Virgenes Unified School District, where just 12% of students are from low-income families, had a district-issued computer and good internet access at home. His school shut down on a Friday, and by the following Wednesday it was up and running virtually. There were agendas and assignments online and Google hangouts with teachers, said his mother, Megan Glynn. While Cooper would prefer to be back on campus, Glynn believes that he and his siblings will be fine academically even with school continuing online.

“I feel fully confident in the education they’ll receive,” she said.The contrasting realities of these two students reflect the educational inequities that children have experienced since schools closed — and that many will continue to face in the fall as distance learning resumes for 97% of the state’s public school students.

A Los Angeles Times survey of 45 Southern California school districts found profound differences in distance learning among children attending school districts in high-poverty communities, like Maria’s in Coachella Valley, and those in more affluent ones, like Cooper’s in Las Virgenes, which serves Calabasas and nearby areas.

These inequities threaten to exacerbate wide and persistent disparities in public education that shortchange students of color and those from low-income families, resulting in potentially lasting harmto a generation of children.“The longer this goes on, the longer the pendulum swings to where this could be a generation that’s really left behind,” said Beth Tarasawa, who studies educational equity issues at the not-for-profit educational research group NWEA.

AdvertisementThe Times survey found that districts serving communities with the lowest incomes — all with a majority of Latino students — had to confront a wide digital divide when campuses closed in mid-March and struggled for weeks, some more than a month,

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just to begin online learning. They scrambled to buy computers and hot spots, even as the onslaught of demand led to long delays.California’s students still need more than a million computers and hot spots, state officials say.Meanwhile, many districts serving more affluent communities launched their online classes almost immediately, in part because their students had computers and internet access.

Few districts tracked student participation, but among those that did, districts serving communities with the lowest incomes also reported lower student participation than districts in higher-income areas.The Times surveyed 45 public school districts across Southern California, with a combined enrollment of more than 1.45 million students, and interviewed the leaders in all but a few. The survey included districts that serve both ends of the region’s economic divide: districts serving students from low-income families and those serving children from more affluent communities.

It also included some of the region’s largest districts — such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach and San Bernardino. On average among the large districts, about 70% of students are low-income, and more than two-thirds are Latino.The survey defined low-income and more affluent districts by the percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Respondents included 21 districts with the smallest percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, on average less than 15%.

Those districts tend to have comparatively large populations of white and Asian students. It also included16 districts with the largest percentages of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, on average about 90%. The vast majority of students in these districts are Latino and many also had sizable Black student enrollment.

The findings add to evidence of the coronavirus crisis’ starkly inequitable toll on low-income Black and Latino communities.A STRUGGLE JUST TO STARTAndrew Diaz barely turned in any work after Lynwood High closed in March. But he’s got his textbooks for the fall, along with better internet at home and a computer issued by the district.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)In late April on a 90-degree day, more than a month after schools closed, 10th-grader Andrew Diaz walked a mile to Lynwood High School in Lynwood to pick up a computer.AdvertisementBefore the shutdown, he earned As, Bs and Cs. But with schools closed, Andrew said he was struggling to feel motivated and understand his work. His mother, a single parent and healthcare worker who has cared for coronavirus patients, was working double shifts, keeping her away from home and close supervision of Andrew’s studies. For more than a month, Andrew accessed classes on his cellphone, but was too depressed and unmotivated to do so often. By the end of April, he said, he had probably turned in one complete assignment.

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“I feel like when I move on to 11th grade, I’m gonna be behind, and everybody’s gonna, like, be smarter than me, and I’m afraid,” he said.The Times survey shows that low-income-serving districts, like Lynwood Unified, were at a deep digital deficit when compared to districts serving more affluent areas. On average, about half the students in low-income-serving districts had computers available for school work when campuses closed. Among the largest districts, an average of nearly two-thirds of students had them.

But among the most affluent-serving districts, an average 87% of students had computers when campuses closed, and virtually every student — 98% — had them about three weeks later.The difference wasn’t just that students in more affluent-serving districts had computers at home, but that several of these districts were able to give their students computers to take home on the day schools closed or in the week after, allowing each child to quickly transition to distance learning.

Many low-income-serving districts moved swiftly to buy and distribute computers and hot spots. But the process took time and in some cases was not complete before the end of the school year.According to the survey, three weeks after campuses closed, nearly 30% of students in districts serving communities with the lowest incomes lacked devices. Six weeks later, about 12% lacked them.

At El Segundo Unified, where about half of students are white and 15% qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, Supt. Melissa Moore said the district had more than enough computers for every student who needed one when campuses closed. Only about 25 families needed help connecting to the internet, translating to as smooth a transition as possible, she said.

At Oak Park Unified in Ventura County, all students already had district-issued devices, making the transition to online learning easier, said Supt. Tony Knight.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)AdvertisementSimilarly, at Oak Park Unified, a district of 4,500 students in Ventura County where 7% of students come from low-income families and more than half are white, every child already had a district-issued device, which helped schools quickly pivot to a virtual setting, said Supt. Tony Knight.

“Given we’re in the middle of a global pandemic of epic proportions,” Knight said, “we’re in good shape.” Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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Utter nonsense I’ve been saying just postpone school until we can go back, but no they don’t want to. So what if you have to graduate a year late. Would you rather die or live, well I know the answere for gen z, but come on Online learning lesson here? Don’t be poor. If you cant afford internet, or a computer, you cant afford raising a child. Consider this before making more babies.

DanaCortez The entire public school system is a joke! Blaming just online learning ain't gonna change the fact that California is 1 of the worst when it comes to testing scores in the country year after year But is there an option at this time? if one looks hard, a dark spot can be found in every initiative.

Blame yourselves, you’ve been chiefly responsible for stirring hysteria and posting letters to the editors to shame parents who advocate for their children. Yes because so many children from affluent families are just totally flourishing right now and not even a part of this fucking lost generation. Kids can’t play with their friends, full stop. Thats your story.

I feel like Sisyphus pushing 50 boulders uphill. But they still need us. Then they need to be evaluated as to how well they have learned. How will that take place? This is a huge problem Luis Chaidez, a social studies teacher at Augustus Hawkins High School in South L.A., had 120 students when schools closed. But he never had more than 15 attend an online class. He doesn’t blame them.

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Supreme Court blocks Oregon group from collecting signatures online for ballot initiativeThe Supreme Court has blocked a lower court ruling that would have made it easier for a group promoting redistricting reform in Oregon to collect signatures in the midst of the pandemic. CNN LOVES PEDOPHILIA 👊 👊 👊 👊 👊 👊 👊 👊 👊 👊 👊

Florida child's mother shot and killed during online Zoom classFlorida elementary school student was on Zoom for her first day of school when her mother was shot and killed during the online class, police say. My God So many waste of lives out there reproducing He killed her, over a Facebook talk.😡😠🤬

Florida child's mother shot and killed during online Zoom classA Florida elementary school student was on Zoom for her first day of school when her mother was shot and killed during the online class, police said

Local School District To Require Students To Attend Online Classes At Massive, Open-Concept Computer LabSAVANNAH, GA—In an effort to make virtual learning readily accessible to every child in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System announced plans Wednesday to require all students to attend online classes in one massive, open-concept computer lab. “We’re happy to provide our approximately 37,000 students with this large room where they can complete their coursework, participate in Zoom calls with teachers, and access class discussion boards—all without having to set foot in a traditional classroom,” said superintendent M. Ann Levett, describing the windowless 100,000-square-foot warehouse space in which pupils of all ages will sit side-by-side at long folding tables and use desktop PCs to access the school district’s web-based distance-learning environment. “While the coronavirus has presented educators with a problem that has no perfect solution, we believe we have found an equitable approach that allows children to learn in a comfortable setting without ever having to wear a mask. And they won’t be staring at a screen all day, either. During break time, students can play together or simply relax in the adjacent auto-repair garage, which will serve as a communal recreation area.” At press time, Levett told reporters that in preparation for the start of school, her district had mandated virus tests, and the results had come back negative for all 37,000 computers.\n I mean Sweet I always loved going to the lab What is satire anymore? Is this it? I can't tell.

Georgia district struggles to teach online; quarantines growGeorgia's largest school district struggled to launch online learning for its 180,000 students, as parents complained that they and their students repeatedly tried and failed to log in to Gwinnett County's online system. I can understand this being an issue in March, but they had all summer to plan and build capacity for this. Going to happen everywhere. That’s Republican leadership for you 🤷‍♂️