Families deserve financial support for at-home schooling

Will Flanders:

The debate over how, and if, school will resume in-person this fall is taking center stage in communities across the country. Many major districts have already announced they intend to remain closed, at least to start the school year. And in Wisconsin, the Department of Public Instruction’s guidelines for reopening account for wide array of school options, from full in-person instruction to fully virtual.

Every school and school district will have to make the best decision possible given their circumstances and the threat of the virus. But if the 2020-21 school year is to look like the spring of 2020 —with widespread building closures and instruction occurring virtually — parents deserve access to at least some of the money dedicated towards schools each year.

Evidence is growing that the time out of school is exacerbating existing educational gaps for low-income and minority students. In Los Angeles, data analysis from the spring has found that Black, Latino and low-income students were less likely to participate in online learning activities than their peers. In Texas, when students were doing online coursework, math progress decreased by 56% from January to the end of semester for pupils in low-income ZIP codes.