August 12th, 2020

Questions for Proactive and Equitable Educational Implementation During the COVID-19 Crisis

While COVID-19 has impacted the lives of all young people and their families, the impact has been deeper and more pronounced for learners that society, and by extension, the education system, have traditionally disadvantaged.

While these groups — students who are American Indian, Black, and/or identify with other racial and ethnic minority groups, have disabilities, are learning English as a second language, are experiencing homelessness, are low income, in the foster system, identify as LGBTQ, served by migrant education programs, and/or live in rural and remote areas of the country –face different specific obstacles, they also face many shared challenges of social and cultural bias, underinvestment, and educational inaccessibility. Amidst the international pandemic, these learners are not only less likely to have access to devices and technology, they are more likely to experience challenges with housing, food, safety, and social emotional and trauma informed needs.

As part of the ISTE Learning Keeps Going Equity Work Group, a number of national education and civil rights organizations have come together to raise the need for intentionality in serving these learners. The organizations, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the National Education Association, the Center for Black Educator Development, CASTEducation Commission of the States, Learning Ally, Learning Forward, Quality Matters, Southeast Asian Resource Action Center, SchoolHouse Connection, Understood, and UnidosUS, worked with a number of other national civil rights partners to develop proactive questions for decision makers to achieve intentionality in meeting the individual and collective needs of diverse learners.  

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The resulting product identifies 4 key considerations (accessibility, capacity, learning opportunities, and outcomes) for these 11 systemically disadvantaged groups. We urge decisionmakers (educators, school leaders, district administrators, and state and federal policymakers) serving these groups of students, to begin with difficult conversations and move to creating an intentional plan to meet collective responsibilities to these learners. As difficult as it is, this period in our nation’s history can be a time of incredible economic and social progress in meeting the needs of those too often left out by our society, but this aim can only be achieved through collaboration, honesty, solidarity, and investment.

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