Race and Economy

Black students most likely to be going to school remotely

Samantha Fields Nov 17, 2020
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More than 70% of Black students are learning entirely remotely right now, according to a Marketplace-Edison Research poll. FG Trade via Getty Images
Race and Economy

Black students most likely to be going to school remotely

Samantha Fields Nov 17, 2020
Heard on:
More than 70% of Black students are learning entirely remotely right now, according to a Marketplace-Edison Research poll. FG Trade via Getty Images
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Sometime over the summer, Jonathan White and his wife had to make a choice that parents across the country were making about the upcoming school year: send their kids back to school in person part-time, or keep them entirely remote. They chose remote.

“We’re a Black family, and we know that Blacks over-index, as far as COVID infections,” said White, who lives in Somerset, New Jersey. “So we just thought it best and safest to keep them home.”

Their son, who’s in 8th grade, has asthma, and they didn’t trust the Somerset schools were prepared to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On top of that, White said, “we don’t trust that our neighbors, sadly particularly our white neighbors, are going to take the precautions necessary to make sure that our kids are safe.”

More than 70% of Black students are learning entirely remotely right now, compared to about 40% of white students and about 60% Hispanic or Latinx students, the most recent Marketplace Edison Research poll found. Some of that has to do with trust, according to Jasmine Gripper, the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education

“We have seen a lot of Black and brown parents in New York opt for 100% online, remote learning. I think that speaks to the Black community, specifically, having a lot of distrust for institutions within our communities,” she said. 

“When communities have been systemically dis-invested in and neglected, at a time where there’s a global crisis and a pandemic, it’s really hard for parents to say I’m going to trust this institution now to keep my child safe.”

If white parents are more likely to feel safe sending their kids to school in person, Gripper is concerned that will only widen the achievement gap.

“We know that in-person learning is the best quality learning that a child can get, that face-to-face interaction with their teachers is significantly better and more effective than the online learning models,” she said.  

“If the students who are getting in-person models are the students who already have the advantage, they’re only going to increase their advantage,” she said. “And the students who are doing online and remote learning, if those are the most disadvantaged students, they’re only going to end up being further behind their peers.”

That was a big reason Erika Friederichs and her husband opted to send their kids back to school in person full-time this fall.

“My kids just did not do well learning from home,” said Friederichs, who’s white and lives in Billings, Montana. 

In the few months they were learning remotely last spring, she saw them backsliding — her 6-year-old daughter socially, and her 9-year-old son academically. 

“Even though they’re very motivated about learning, I felt like they’d just slipped further if we had to do it all from home,” she said. 

So this fall, she and her husband really wanted them back in the school building, if possible. 

“The school made us feel like they were doing everything they could to make sure that everyone was staying safe and healthy, and so far, it seems like they’re sticking to that,” Friederichs said. “Right now I feel like the school is the safest place for them to be because they’re being so cautious.”

Parents whose kids are back in the classroom are more likely to be satisfied with the education their kids are receiving, according to a recent study from Pew Research. Most parents whose kids are learning remotely either some or all of the time are worried about their kids falling behind academically. Low-income parents in particular. 

It feels inevitable to Jonathan White that his kids “will be slightly affected and possibly behind by the time they get back into the building,” he said. “I think it’s much more difficult for kids to learn remotely, and to get the type of education they can get in a classroom. Much more difficult.”

But he is less worried about that than he is about COVID. And he said he and his wife are taking it upon themselves to be more involved, and make sure their kids don’t fall too far behind.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

How long will it be until the economy is back to normal?

It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods. To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control. Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30. Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November. Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.

How are those COVID relief payments affecting consumers?

Payments started going out within days of President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a big shot in the arm for consumers, said John Leer at Morning Consult, which polls Americans every day. “Consumer confidence is really on a tear. They are growing more confident at a faster rate than they have following the prior two stimulus packages.” Leer said this time around the checks are bigger and they’re getting out faster. Now, rising confidence is likely to spark more consumer spending. But Lisa Rowan at Forbes Advisor said it’s not clear how much or how fast.

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