By Debbie Zacarian
On April 7, 2020, White House pandemic advisor, Dr. Fauci, stated that the pandemic “shine(s) a very bright light on some of the real weaknesses and foibles in our society.” Since the pandemic struck, I’ve been offering online and phone support to educators in their quest to stay connected with students and families, despite their schools being closed for in-person instruction. While the drastic move to remote learning has meant using technologies that none of us could have anticipated or even imagined, there is no question that our global health crisis has also shone a very bright light on what Dr. Fauci referenced—the structural inequities that are occurring in schools and society across the nation. To name just a few startling statistics, consider the following:
- Almost half of the nation’s students live in poverty (Southern Education Foundation, 2015).
- English learners are a rapidly growing and tremendously diverse group. Additionally, sixty percent of their families’ incomes are 185% below poverty level (Grantmakers for Education, 2013).
- Close to half of U.S. students have experienced or are experiencing significant adversity (National Center for Health Statistics, 2013) in the form of abuse, neglect, parental loss, or mental illness and millions have experienced living in war or conflict zones and being persecuted, displaced, and being in constant fear of being deported, or becoming homeless.