Various Studies Show Virtual/Distance Learning Will Worsen Racial Inequality in the U.S

Education amidst the ongoing pandemic can only continue by way of virtual or distance learning, yet experts fear it will only worsen inequality in the U.S. Recent studies show that only half of America’s entire population of K12 students will be able to complete the school year by attending virtual or distance learning classes.

Madeline Hafner, who serves at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research as Executive Director for the Minority Student Achievement Network Consortium, said that as it is, African Americans and Hispanics already face inequality in terms of health care services. Most of the children liv8ng in multi-generational households depend on school support for health care, libraries and even food.

During the past six months, the pandemic and the events that transpired after, had brought to light how black and brown families have been disproportionately affected.
Their disadvantage becomes even more pronounced as schools resume classes via virtual or distance learning.

According to a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group and Common Sense Media, 30% of America’s K-12 public school students, representing around 15 to 16 million children, are living in homes without internet access or have proper devices that will enable them to engage in homeschooling.

E-Learning Can Impact the Future Earning Power of K12 Students

Ms. Hafner has expressed concerns about the serious implications of the current school systems for the disadvantaged and minority students in America.

While black and hispanic children struggle with inadequate help at home, the parents of most white children are hiring tutors or private teachers to help their children cope with distance learning. Some others are creating small groups called learning pods that would allow their children and a teacher to hold an in-person study.

Based on a study conducted by McKinsey and Company, a strategy and management consulting firm, if students do not receive in-school instructions, they are likely to experience a 7-month learning loss on the average. However, the average increases to 10.3 months and 9.2 months for low-income black and hispanic students, respectively. Based on those findings, McKinsey and Company estimated that achievement gaps would exacerbate by 15% to 20%.

Moreover, if K12 students are to return to classrooms only in January 2021, the McKinney report stated that the learning loss could impact the earning power of students in relation to their lifetime earnings. When broken down according to race, annual reduction of earnings over a 40-year working life for white students is estimated at 1.6% or $1, 348: while for black students the estimated annual reduction is at 3.3% or $2,186 and for hispanic students 3% or $1,809 less.

Although the shift to virtual or distance learning has become necessary in light of the continuing health threats posed by COVID-19, educators agree that e-learning cannot fully replace face-to-face or in-person learning.