Covid19 is disrupting education in America in ways we never imagined

Parents across the country need to understand what the next year (or more) will look like.

This newsletter is produced w/ Zach Peterson (@zachprague), who took this picture of his son (3rd grade) attending “class” in March.

Scroll down for Read Something; Watch Something; Listen to Something; a new weekly medical show I’m co-executive producing with two surgeons: She’s On Call.

The best way to know when I’m on the air, and see all my archived Covid19 shows, is to subscribe to my YouTube channel. We’ve been going for 116 straight days and we have no plans of stopping!

My team is working with companies and nonprofits around the world to create virtual events. We ran the production of T4, the world’s largest gathering of teachers - 100,000 educators in 88 countries, in English, Spanish, Arabic. We can help you, too. Don’t cancel or postpone your conference - contact us! sree@sree.net

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America had an education crisis before the Covid19 pandemic. Now, we are in turmoil.

As some of the country went into strict lockdown/quarantine in March and April, the education gap became immediately clear. While the comparatively rich — myself included; we are truly blessed and I mean that — among us took to online learning and homeschooling, kids in poorer households saw far more dire effects. And, because this America, the effects are orders of magnitude more severe for non-white people.

A new survey from the US Census Bureau, covered by The Brookings Institution paints a dire picture. It’s no surprise that the children of people with means have better access to devices for learning, but the drop off in the “Always” category is stark.

The lower third of this chart represents a lot of people who were deemed “essential employees” in the pandemic’s early days — service workers across a host of industries, support staff, and more. These workers tend to be people of color, and these jobs tend to be one of several for the people holding them. Money and time in these households are stretched thin as it is. The loss of school, the institution of school, that provides social interaction, food, shelter, relative safety, and more, is a major blow to these children and our society writ large.

Break down the tech gap by race — even in the simplest terms as they do here — and it’s horrific.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, “This is about so much more than police violence.” It’s about equality - real equality. Equality in admissions, equality in staff decisions…equality.

But we also need to look at the immediate term. School “starts” in less than two months, and it’s tough to be optimistic. The pressure that has been put on parents this year has been…too much (seriously, can we pay teachers what they are worth, please?). In an already-stressed society with an ever-eroding work/life balance, work-from-home and teach-from-home have changed everything.

I discussed this on an episode of my daily global show last week, and I want to keep discussing it; send me your ideas. Below is the episode, with Prof. Pawan Dhingra (@phdhingra1; author of an extraordinary new book, “Hyper Education: Why Good Schools, Good Grades, and Good Behavior Are Not Enough” and journalist Alia Wong (@aliaemily). In March, we hosted an episode called “We Love Teachers.”

More importantly, I want to hear from you. I want to hear from parents, teachers, care-givers, relatives — everyone affected by our evolving approach to school in pandemic America. tell me how you’re coping, or not, and we will come back to this and include responses in the near future.

- Sree


Read Something

🤮 It should come as no surprise that Tucker Carlson’s head writer of the last three-plus years has been outed as a racist, white nationalist, and…you name it. He was basically saying less-thinly-veiled things on secret forums that he was then writing for Carlson. Oliver Darcy’s (@oliverdarcy) story really paints a picture of the clear lines between the writer’s “anonymous” posts in racist forums and what showed up on Carlson’s show. Read it @ CNN.


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Listen to Something

As discussed above, the education crisis in America is multi-faceted. Setting aside the pressure we’re putting on educators and school administrators, the president is aiming to make it essentially impossible for international students to study here. What are we becoming? Good detail and rundown of the whole situation from the Today Explained team here. Listen on all major podcast platforms.


Watch Something

This is the situation as it stands right now across America. With leadership at the federal level nonexistent, communities are simply going to have to improvise come the fall. Also, watch the PBS Newshour as often as you can. It’s one of the last remaining straight national news casts, and it’s so good.


Odds & Ends

✉️ Read something. And then DO something. My friends S. Mitra Kalita (@mitrakalita) and Nitin Mukul (@nittynice) just launched Epicenter-NYC (@epicenter_nyc), a newsletter to get through the pandemic. It's a mix of how to give help (food banks and the donations they need) and get help (antibody tests, bike trails, Black-owned biz you can order from). It aims to create a bigger network of neighbors in these admittedly isolated times. You can subscribe here. Or read the first issue here

🗞 My Sunday #NYTReadalong, executive produced by Neil Parekh (@neilparekh), where we read the print NYT out loud every week, 8:30-10:30 am ET: Our guest this week is Mary C. Curtis, a former editor at The New York Times who is currently a columnist at CQ Roll Call, a contributor to WCCB-TV and the local NPR station in Charlotte. She writes about the intersection of politics, culture and race. Watch it on FB. Or catch it in my YouTube archives.

The Readalong is followed Sundays 11 am-noon ET by a new medical show I’m co-executive producing with surgeons Sujana Chandrasekhar, M.D. (@DrSujanaENT), and Marina Kurian, M.D. (@MarinaKurian), called She’s On Call (watch live or later).

The Sunday #NYTReadalong is sponsored by Muck RackMagic Bus USA  and Strategy Focused Group. Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Email sree@sree.net and neil@neilparekh.org.

🎧 Every Saturday, I host a call-in show on WBAI 99.5FM (@wbai) - "Coping with Covid19" - focused on being helpful, hopeful, and focusing on the pandemic's effects on society’s most vulnerable - the workers, the poor, the marginalized - and talk to ordinary citizens & experts on how we can emerge stronger.

Listen live Saturdays from 12-2pm EST, or later. And, of course, call in or tweet questions for us using the #wbaisree hashtag! Listen to an early episode here!

📺 A reminder to watch my Daily Global Covid19 Show. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn something every time. We’ve had 100+ shows and 200+ guests. Check out the archive and please subscribe to my YouTube channel. And/or sign up for my WhatsApp alerts list (it’s not your typical WhatsApp group, just a text when I’m live!). We are in partnership with Scroll.in, one of India’s best news and culture websites.

Recent highlights:

👀 Did we miss anything? Make a mistake? Do you have an idea for anything we’re up to? Let us know! Let’s collaborate!