April 12, 2021

Don’t Forget About Us: Students are Still Missing Essential Resources for Learning

By Myisha Holley

This post is the ninth in our Education at a Distance series, centering the voices of students, parents, and educators during the COVID-19 crisis. 

According to the Saint Paul Public School Board, in-person school learning for middle and high school students will resume in mid-April 2021. I am definitely for in-person learning, but my family is not ready to go back. As the mother of children with disabilities (one with a learning disability and two with mental health), I also want to know how we’ll be prioritized and not lost in the mix.

My children have thrived since beginning distance learning. Part of that is due to their school structure at this time and that I am actually home to assist them in school work. 

To me, my kids are absolutely brilliant … of course, I’m the parent, right?! Well, they didn’t know as much as I thought they knew—things about the world that I was taught during my school years, like how many seas and oceans there are and where they were. Distance learning gave me the opportunity to get more involved in my children’s academics. It’s allowed me the opportunity to expand their learning culturally and to overall have productive conversations with my kids. 

Distance learning for my kids has been phenomenal, although there’s still the internet issue, either a lack of or just having a decent connection. I know all children are not the same and have different learning styles. But it does seem like since distance learning, I’ve seen countless kids creatively show how intelligent they are, that they’re not as “bad” and that they can thrive in a digital world in ways an older generation can’t really imagine. (Take a look at TikTok!)

There are kids that learn with a more introverted style, get bullied, or that just don’t have the tools they need to learn in classroom atmospheres. I, for one, loved learning but hated going to school. There’s not a school that I think of that I enjoyed. I was bullied but loved to learn. When my children had similar experiences, I vowed that no matter what their feelings would come first and that I would be open-minded to their needs—rather than prioritizing my own

To ensure that distance learning is successful, families need the right tools. And the Governor and other leaders across Minnesota need to make that happen.

I know for Saint Paul, this is challenging. Our children continue to fall behind because they don’t have what is needed. If you need internet and have to get it from the library because it’s needed right away or you can’t afford it, there’s the wait system. This system requires you sign-up in person to reserve the hotspot, and once it’s in, they only let you use the hotspot for one week. Now, considering most kids are in school nine months out of the year, I don’t know how this would help! Access is a problem and one of the reasons kids are failing.

We talk about the importance of education, but on many levels, refuse to give our children what they need in terms of supports and the opportunity to prove themselves. We talk about equal education, but not about equity. I would love for all children to have an equal and equitable education. But what does that look like? Are you willing to do what it takes to meet the needs of students? Are we willing to hear the children? They know what works for them.

I am not excited about sending my kids to school during the pandemic. And work is not as important to me as my kids; they come first. So let’s be real, the school year isn’t over, some families aren’t ready to go back in person, and distance learning still isn’t working for parents! So, let’s get our students and families the resources they need to succeed.

EdAllies seeks to elevate diverse voices and foster a candid dialogue about education. While we provide our blog as a platform for EdVoices and other guest contributors, the views and opinions they express are solely their own.