Dec 1, 2020
The Think Tank at The Thinkubator under the leadership of Dr. Lessie Branch released a policy brief on remote education in the Bronx. The report examines the inherent inequities and challenges of remote learning in the borough. In particular, it highlights the digital divide and lack of accessibility to technology that allows students to learn, diversity and educators preparedness for teaching remotely, economic and food insecurity impact, and the social-emotional impact of COVID-19's sickness and death on students' learning. A key question for The Thinkubator is how do we expect children to learn in a remote setting in a system that at its core has grave inequities that disadvantages Bronx youth? These issues are critically important to address as the City of New York continues to contemplate how to address the impact of COVID-19. Recently, the mayor of the City of New York rescinded his previous policy position on the physical closure of public schools announcing that school buildings will reopen on Dec. 7 despite the increase in COVID-19 infections.
The Think Tank at The Thinkubator puts forth four policy positions that must been examined as New York City opens school buildings to those students that select to attend in person and those that attend remotely. 1) Upon reopening K-12 schools, establish precautions for COVID-19 virus escalation; 2) Operationalize access to at-home technology and instructional materials; 3) Facilitate individualized services for vulnerable student populations; 4) Develop systems to collect feedback from families and students. The report thoroughly outlines these policy positions. "Since I was a kid attending Bronx public schools in the 1980s radical education reform was needed in my community to address the grave inequities, this continues to be the same thirty plus years later," states Dr. Edward Summers, President and CEO, The Thinkubator.
A theme often associated with addressing inequities is the allocation of resources. Dr. Lessie Branch, Director of The Think Tank at The Thinkubator states that "resources are an excellent start! But resources in the absence of context or a plan for how they can be leveraged to gain maximum efficacy renders resources ineffective!" The Think Tank puts forth a plan that begins to address the inequalities that exist for Bronx students to fully participate in their learnings online. Of note, remote education is a moving target as COVID-19 ravages the United States and communities like the Bronx and leaders are forced to balance their responses to the demands and voices of parents and the safety concerns for students, teachers, and administrators. The Think Tank at The Thinkubator plans on updating policy briefs on this topic as it continues to evolve.
The Think Tank at The Thinkubator serves as a hub for rigorous academic, scholarly, and professional research that supports the organization.
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