LITTLE FALLS, NJ -- TAPintoTV Executive Producer, Brian Brodeur, was joined by Janellen Duffy, Senior Advisor with JerseyCan, and Vivian Cox Fraser, President and CEO of the Urban League of Essex County, to discuss a recent report released by the Global Strategy Group and the New Jersey Children’s Foundation examining parents’ perspectives on remote learning during the 2020-21 school year. 

“We thought it was incredibly important to do this survey of parents in this school year,” Duffy said, “and hear directly from them about what was on their mind.”  According to the survey results, Duffy said, “parents are concerned about their children’s social and emotional well-being,” and the biggest fear that emerged “was this concern about making sure their kids stay on track academically,” Duffy added. 

“We do know that districts and teachers are doing their absolute best in whatever medium they’re trying to reach students, they have been nothing short of amazing,” Duffy stressed. She noted that “the top things parents are asking for is regular contact with teachers, more information about how their students are doing and if their kids are on grade level.”

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Duffy also spoke about some of the disparities highlighted by the survey results. “There were already achievement gaps, there were already opportunity gaps that existed. Clearly we’re concerned that COVID has exacerbated those gaps,” she said. 

Fraser addressed some of those specific inequities. “What we’re seeing is that the access to technology is really a significant issue,” she said. “COVID also highlighted these districts had to scramble to get all these devices to these children, when in fact we know they already needed them.” 

“If you’re economically at risk before COVID,” Fraser continued, “now it’s really a disaster to your family. You’re trying to struggle with your own economic stability while also educating your children.” She noted, “COVID laid bare a lot of the disparities that already existed.”  

“When you think about children, they get what somebody gives them,” Fraser said. “They come into a classroom, they don’t have a voice in terms of what they’re getting. They rely on us, on the adults, on the policy makers, on their communities to fight for them, and to ensure that the resources that they need to create opportunity and have a better future are given to them.”

Duffy and Fraser both suggested some paths to combat these issues. “We think there are ways to address that here and now,” said Duffy. “We need the state to pull together data from across the state and figure out where the greatest needs are arising, and then we need to address those needs with resources like an extended school year or more intensive summer programming. Those are things we can do for the medium term, as we get thru the spring and into the summer to really try to make up for lost time,” she said. “This is our biggest concern, students are already behind and now they could’ve lost the rest of the year.”

“We need equity,” Fraser said. “It’s not just about equal resources, it’s about equitable resources. These communities are devastated. Whether facing eviction, facing health issues, food in the community. It’s the low and moderate income communities that are facing these impacts, and these impacts need to be addressed.” She added, “The amount of stress on families cannot be understated.”

For complete coverage on the parent survey, visit: https://www.tapinto.net/towns/newark/articles/poll-finds-mixed-views-on-remote-learning-in-new-jersey