(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 68)
Despite a trove of news reports over these last two months, I believe one cuento that’s still under-reported has been that of a generation of parents in Los Angeles coming to know their children’s education amid this shutdown in ways that may have once been inconceivable.
Living in the tight-knit quarters of Los Angeles’s tiny places for home, it’s safe to say the process for this has been rife with emotions, lung-raising, and bodies shifting reluctantly to rest after lengthy days at home.
In Los Angeles, with 80% of LAUSD’s families at or below the poverty line, it’s meant only doing more with less. Despite the loss of work and income, the education of their children has still had to move forward, even if imperfectly.
I know many students in these families have done their best to keep up with their teachers despite all the last-minute scrambling, but I also know that many others who were already struggling have only been further disconnected. In both cases, it’s been critical for parents to see this at home.
As Superintendent Beutner has pointed out:
“When schools are open it’s relatively simple to measure attendance and have a pretty good sense of a how engaged a student is…You can see it in their body language, their interaction in the classroom, and in their work. Online, it’s not so simple. A login on a computer doesn’t necessarily mean a student’s engaged in learning, and the absence of a login if a student’s reading a book or working on a writing assignment can also be misleading.”
A shared understanding between educators anywhere is that we are constantly learning, and that we only learn more by asking questions of what we see around us. Now, more parents can place educators’ hats on themselves to ask:
Why is my child’s education important?
What tools do I have to support my child’s education, and what tools do I still need?
Despite the most recent challenges, do I still want my child to go to college?
For decades, the ways to create an environment for learning at home in ways that complement an environment for learning at school have been underappreciated, or written off as something there isn’t enough time to scrutinize during the frenzy of a school-year filled with homework assignments, standardized testing, and more. Now, with a summer of online learning ahead in Los Angeles, and possibly even further time at home, there is only more reason for parents to learn with their children.
These parents cannot be alone in this process, because another shared understanding between educators everywhere is that no child can get to college on their own, just as no single teacher can get them there; in fact, it does still take a village.
If that village is not there, then this is the time to call it forward and organize it.
Because here’s one last understanding between educators everywhere: we are not just constantly learning. Our actions ensure that we are also constantly teaching.
So now the question is simply what we want to teach, Los Angeles. The city’s future is counting on us.
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