Statement on Boston Public Schools Reopening Plan
Latinos for Education supports Boston Public School’s decision to begin the school year virtually and prioritize the physical health of students, faculty and other staff. However, we also must ensure that remote learning provides all students, including our most underserved communities, the resources, opportunities and support systems required to learn.
The digital divide was causing educational disparities for Latinx families and students prior to the global pandemic, and with the shift to remote learning, this has only been exacerbated. Latinx students and families in lower income brackets are less likely to have access to a home computer than other students; therefore, the first step in ensuring distance learning does not exacerbate the learning gap between Latino students and their peers is guaranteeing every student has access to computers and internet now, before the start of school.
While Boston Public Schools have provided devices to many students across the district and recently received additional funding to purchase more, we need to ensure that there is an accounting of when all children will receive one and the support families are getting in their language. Parents, students and educators must all be equipped to participate in distance learning. There will need to be guidance and training for all.
Families whose home language is not English face an additional challenge. There have been significant gaps and delays in ensuring that all reopening related information is made available in Spanish at the same time as English, if at all. The district must give equal access to reopening information and has to significantly improve efforts to listen to non-English speaking parents. These parents must be prioritized in district communication in order to ensure that they can receive the assistance they need to help educate their children. It is inequitable for them to receive critical information such as surveys and reopening plans in any language other than their home language.
It’s also important to acknowledge that during the 2019-2020 school year, both the content and curriculum for English Language Learners (ELL) was not as accessible and in many cases unavailable. We can not continue to leave our ELL population behind.
The debate around school reopening has been complicated – and for good reason: lives, well-being and futures are at stake. We want our students and staff safe, and we also want children prepared for higher education and careers in the future. With that in mind, we must work in a spirit of collaboration. A core value at Latinos for Education is to Rise as a Collective. That means we believe educational equity will be achieved through a shared vision and collaboration across the community. We are ready to continue our work with schools, educators, districts, and other organizations to navigate this uncertain time and remove barriers to educational opportunity for Latino students.