Episode 154
Mar 17, 2020

School’s out. COVID-19 means we’re all learning a lot. Differently.

The millions of kids learning at home are exposing the inequalities in public education, internet access and more.

Thirty-five states closed all their schools this week in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus. Nearly 38 million children are home, quite possibly through the summer break.

This is an unprecedented situation. Many schools are embracing some kind of distance learning, and while education technology has never been better, there are also serious equity issues. Not every school district or home is set up for meaningful distance learning. Remote learning also can’t replace school’s function as an essential piece of the social safety net. Millions of children get free or reduced-price meals at school, and many also receive some social services through their school. So how will weeks or months of this new normal affect students’ learning and development across the digital divide? And — oh yeah — what about parents?

To help us understand the challenges we are facing and look ahead, we’re joined (remotely) by Pedro Noguera. He’s a distinguished professor of education at UCLA. He says the outbreak is exposing the existing gulf of inequality in America’s schools and the lack of broadband and computer access across the nation. Those big gaps mean the impacts on learning could extend long after the virus is contained.

Later in the show, we hear once again from our listener in Venice, Italy; an actor in New York City; and a tech worker in Redmond at the epicenter of the outbreak in Washington.

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for new daily Alexa explainers. This week: sick leave, bull and bear markets and how COVID-19 is affecting the travel industry. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter. here’s the latest issue if you missed it.

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Donna Tam Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marissa Cabrera Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior producer