The worldwide pandemic has left so many wondering. Students, teachers, parents, educators, leaders, school districts, and states left wondering how to continue teaching and learning effectively during the worldwide pandemic. The concerns regarding economic stability and returning to normal to ensuring students' and staffs' safety. Despite all of the explicit opinions and facts that accompany the pandemic, one crucial topic that needs to be emphasized is equity in students' education.
Before the pandemic, equity in education was already an area of concern in the United States. Social injustices that stem from historical systems are showing effects even today, especially during the pandemic. The data on the impact of the epidemic proves that most of the impacted populations are more likely to be those from diverse backgrounds representing the minority of our national community.
Some would prefer to reopen schools with business as usual with the implementation of certain precautions. Others understand the disparities in the pandemic's impact on the diverse communities and would prefer to take continued precautions such as digital learning and remote work. Parents, educators, and leaders are faced with deciding between the health and safety of themselves, their children, plus extended family members and choosing to continue their career in education, as mandates unfolded about returning to school.
Regardless of your viewpoint around school reopening, digital learning, and working remotely, one thing is exact: inequities and discord will continue without listening with an ear of empathy. We know that we came equipped to elevate students' equity and those who serve our students during this time of uncertainty. I applaud those individuals and groups who have exercised their voices. I commend to those who paused to listen first. Ponder, and consider others' viewpoints—taking a moment to realize that your opinion and perspectives are based solely on your experiences and lack of others, experiences. Listening is the only way to learn about other experiences.
What does equity in education look like during the pandemic? Currently, equity looks like states providing school leaders with the autonomy to make decisions about school reopening. This differentiated approach did not serve a one size fits all approach to school systems across a state. I wonder how the narrative of equity would change if individual communities and local schools had autonomy in responding to the data? How would this approach provide equity for all stakeholders?
Many of us educators wonder: How has your school or district used data to make equitable decisions for the various community members and students from multiple backgrounds? What next steps should your district or school take to ensure fair practices in your community? Sometimes the first step to providing equity is realizing that inequity is real.
So many opinions have risen during the pandemic in regards to multiple voices and perspectives obtaining recognition. The representatives from teachers, parents, students, organizations, government officials, school districts, school board members, and the list go on. As everyone makes statements, who's listening? During the pandemic, equity in education will not elevate unless listening is a part of the conversation. They listen with the mindset to reflect on how each individual contributes to the problem and the solution. Making decisions that impact all requires us to hear each other, then come back to the table and make decisions that will benefit all.