Education in a COVID-19 Era
by Sam Gaby
As we continue to hear, COVID-19 has changed the education landscape for millions of families across Georgia. Parents have helped their children around the country complete an unprecedented 2019-20 school year, ending with unanticipated virtual schooling. One thing is for certain: this fall will look different than school years of the past. There will be some kids in traditional brick-and-mortar schools, some participating in virtual learning, and others changing their learning styles completely. One of the greatest takeaways of the COVID-19 pandemic – it further revealed a weakness in a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education.
As someone who was homeschooled from K-12th grade, the transition to virtual college lectures and tests was not a struggle for me. With the flexibility that comes with this schooling choice, I easily managed my schedule and the new freedoms that came with college. I credit my success so far in college to the choice to learn differently. I would not have thrived in public school, so my parents gave me the opportunity to learn in a home environment with additional tools and resources.
Homeschooling is not the right option for all children, nor is it right for all family dynamics. Some lower-income families may not have the resources to support a homeschool education or any other education style other than public school. However, the point still stands: everyone learns differently and needs to have the option and financial support to choose the right learning environment for success. Public schools, private schools, online learning, charter schools, and homeschooling should be options for everyone – no matter their circumstances.
As schools begin to open up, we should be asking ourselves whether or not individual public schools are ready to take on the challenge of hybrid learning. Some counties in Georgia are giving parents a choice in online or in-person learning. The school systems need to be incredibly prepared to handle both forms of learning at the same time.
Last spring, there was a sense of chaos as schools frantically tried to transition to virtual learning. Some schools were not able to resume teaching for several weeks or longer. Has the summer break been enough time to adequately prepare schools to handle the mass technological implementations and resources needed to provide millions of students with a quality education? Will parents around the country start to reconsider their options in schooling? Will more, supportive school choice initiatives such as Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) or the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship Program begin to emerge? Only time will tell, but my hope is that this “COVID-19 Era” brings forth a broader conversation on the importance of options in education.
Sam Gaby is serving as a summer intern for Georgia Center for Opportunity.
EVERY CHILD WITH ACCESS TO A QUALITY EDUCATION
A quality education is key to a child’s future success. Academic achievement paves the way to a good job, self-sufficiency, and the earned success we all want for our children. To learn more about education options in Georgia click here.