William Schmidt is University Professor Emeritus and Director of Center for Curriculum Policy Studies in the College of Education. The following faculty voice is edited for the length and repurposed content of a story WalletHub posted titled “The most and least educated cities in America of 2021.”
Children were deprived of more than a year of the education they were entitled to, which had a negative impact on the knowledge, skills and reasoning skills that are essential in today’s society .
Consider math, a hierarchically structured language that has become essential in today’s tech-driven, data-driven world. For example, a question we should be asking is, “Will the absence of what is not covered in a normal 8th grade or incompletely or hastily covered due to the pandemic, will it prepare?” Would these students take algebra or the next appropriate course they would take? âWith the exception of the most talented math students, the answer is a resoundingâ no. âThis is probably true for other subjects. , in particular English (reading and writing), sciences and foreign languages.
Parents, educators, society at large, but above all policy makers must not only recognize and understand, but above all must address this point. Such a discussion will precipitate controversies and political battles. Although uncomfortable, this is no excuse for doing nothing.
The impact of this situation has and will hurt all children, but it will be particularly disastrous for children of lower social classes. The harm is not only on their preparation for school, but also on their physical, social and emotional well-being.
I can talk about it both as an academic and as a parent. When my daughter is asked, she replies, âI hate school. It’s so boring and I only do exercises on the computer, but I don’t think I’m learning anything. In addition, at the height of the pandemic, its sporting activities and social gatherings were also canceled. This negative attitude towards school coupled with academic shortcomings is now carrying her into her first year of college.
Recent research I have published shows that in the United States, almost a third of the inequality in student performance between children from the lower social class and those from the upper social class stems from differences in what students learn because of their social class. . This disadvantage arises from the fact that the distribution of learning opportunities is affected by the inequitable distribution provided by schooling.
The pandemic-related reduction in the number and nature of lessons has only exacerbated the inequalities upon which learning is based.
In addition to the obvious drawbacks of changing the way of teaching, reducing the total number of school hours, and canceling school activities that affect all students, there have been additional negative consequences that affect more harshly students of lower social classes. These include examples such as lack of access to a computer, lack of a strong digital connection, lack of parental guidance during school hours due to work responsibilities, and the inability of poorer schools. to offer alternative teaching methods. Children from lower social classes have likely started the break imposed by COVID already well behind in the nature and amount of learning opportunities available to them through schooling.
That said, we will all feel the negative impact of the pandemic in the short and long term, but none more so than school-aged children and especially those from lower social class families. Not acting on behalf of every child is a symptom of moral indifference.