Philly teachers told to halt remote instruction due to equity concerns – how do we address those in rural MN?

WHYY (NPR) reports on digital equity issues in Philadelphia. Here’s a letter sent to area principals…

“Students should not be required to complete new assignments or homework activities. Schools may not make independent decisions to offer remote instruction at this time. As guidance and circumstances continue to unfold, we will provide updates when necessary.”

The letter was signed by Naomi Wyatt, the district’s chief of staff, and Malika Savoy-Brooks, chief of academic support.

It sounds like there was some back and forth and that the schools found a middle ground…

At a city press briefing on COVID-19, Hite said that the district would update its guidance and stressed that it is not prohibiting teachers from contacting students and their families, but rather encouraging it. However, due to access concerns, the district would prohibit “a requirement to log in, a requirement to take attendance, and a requirement to distribute grades. If that’s not available to all children, we cannot make that available to some,” Hite said.

But is that a middle ground that serves the students? We are going to have the same issues in part of rural Minnesota, so my question isn’t purely academic. Many providers are trying to make broadband more affordable for low-income families – but that only helps where there is service – what do we do in the unserved and underserved areas?

What are our choices? Hold everybody back but equal, or turn a blind eye to those who can’t get online? Or, and I think we’re seeing interest in this solution in Minnesota – are we going to find immediate access for students and start heavy building to make sure education is available to all.

Minnesota musician Dessa had a great Tweet the other day…

Dessa
@dessadarling Mar 17
My brain is secretly drafting an ambitious self-improvement plan, wherein I emerge from this quarantine fluent in Mandarin and a concert pianist with six-pack abs. Neurotics, man. #WeAreTheForceMajeure

Maybe border to border broadband can be our ambitious self-improvement plan. (Easier than six-pack abs or fluent Mandarin for everyone!)

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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