Dynarski addresses remote learning inequities

May 20, 2020

“The pandemic has revealed enormous inequalities in homes, in schools, in families. So the technological challenges are large, and they are very much connected to a family's financial resources,” according to Ford School professor Susan Dynarski, who was featured in a story on ABC’s Nightline May 20. The story looked at “teachers and students forced to adjust “with workarounds.”

Dynarski said it’s not just technology that can hold back a learner. “If a child has a parent at home they can sit with and who can coach them through lessons and help them work through worksheets, as were the teacher, were she on zoom, then the kid's probably going to do okay. The real divide I worry about is not one in broadband or laptop access. It's access to an adult who can help you with your schooling throughout the day,” she said. 

These inequities need to be addressed in the next months before school reopen. “If we don't do anything differently and try to start the school year, the curriculum as usual, we're going to see a huge divide. We know that some part of learning is going to have to stay remote. Social distancing is going to mean that we can't have every classroom as full of kids. So we need to find a way to make remote learning work.”

You can see the entire news segment here.

Susan Dynarski is a professor of public policy, education, and economics at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, School of Education, and Department of Economics. She is co-founder and co-director of the Ford School’s Education Policy Initiative, which engages in applied, policy-relevant research designed to improve educational achievement and outcomes.  In 2019, Dynarski was named one of nine inaugural recipients of the University of Michigan Distinguished Diversity & Social Transformation Professorship. Dynarski has been a visiting fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Princeton University as well as an associate professor at Harvard University. She is a former editor of The Journal of Labor Economics and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. She has been elected to the board of the Association for Public Policy and Management. She serves on the board of the Association for Education Finance and Policy and is a past president. The Association for Public Policy and Management awarded her the Spencer Foundation Award for excellence in research in 2017. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators awarded her the Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award for excellence in research on student aid. The Chronicle of Higher Education named her a "Top Ten Influencer" in 2015. She writes frequently for the New York Times.