Giving Compass' Take:

• Superintendents share that they want education to improve after COVID-19, and would like to address the gaps in students' education.

• What are steps that education donors can take to work with local superintendents? 

• Read how education philanthropy is addressing the pandemic. 

Richard Carranza, chancellor of New York City public schools, says he doesn’t allow people to talk about “going back to normal.”

Normal, he said in a virtual convening hosted by the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, was a system in which social and economic privilege determined too much about the quality of a student’s education — from funding to access to expectations.

“Normal was never good enough for our kids,” said Carranza, who oversees the nation’s largest school district, with 1.1 million students.

Carranza joined other Latino superintendents and school leaders from across the country April 16 in a discussion about the inequities that existed before COVID-19 and the chances to address them in its wake.

“It’s an opportunity nobody wants,” said Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Don Austin, referring to the tragedy inherent to the outbreak that has closed 124,000 schools and upended the school year for more than 55 million American schoolchildren. Nevertheless, he said, he hoped discussions about the post-pandemic future would be “not just tinkering around the edges, but we can think radically different.”

By seizing the spotlight currently shining on pressing issues like the digital divide, differentiated instruction, social and emotional learning, and the numerous wraparound services provided by schools, panelists urged their fellow educators to be “proactive” in modernizing the education system to better serve those who have been less prioritized for generations.

The pandemic, they said, illustrated the urgency of creating equal access to education. The gaps have been obvious with school happening online, Balderas explained, but they were just as real before classrooms went virtual. Some students have always had the internet at home for research, along with parents who have flexible schedules and enough money for tutors and test prep. Some houses have always had more food than others, more quiet spaces for homework, and multiple transportation options to get to and from school and extracurricular activities.

Read the full article about gaps in education highlighted by coronavirus by Bekah McNeel at The 74.