The Coalition recognized that COVID-19 is exacerbating disparities in educational opportunities and achievement. National research by McKinsey suggests that underserved Black, Brown and low-income students stand to lose between 9 months and a full year of learning just from the abrupt termination of the 2020 school year, said Coalition Director Mondi Kumbula-Fraser. A new study from the University of Maryland School of Public Health reinforced earlier reports on the barriers Black, Brown and low-income children face that impede success in school.
“We heard stories of children who lacked food, children dropping out of school to make money to support their families, children without wi fi access, children who did not have anyone to help them with virtual learning,” said Byron Johns, co-founder of the Coalition.
Roger Espinal, an 11th grader at Watkins Mill High School, shared how hard it is to learn remotely. “I feel very alone. I am trapped in a room. But I am not giving up. I will try to get the help that I need. My friends, too.”
The Coalition asked MCPS to go beyond the original demands by taking immediate and aggressive steps to stem and remediate learning loss by expanding educational “learning hubs,” providing year-round tutoring, extending instructional time, and helping high school seniors with college and career steps. They also called for much more timely, culturally appropriate communication between MCPS and families.
“The compounding effects of decades-long educational health and social disparities were exacerbated by the disproportionate effects COVID has had, and continues to have, in communities of color,” said Diego Uriburu, co-founder of the Coalition and Identity’s Executive Director. “It is as if we have been hit by multiple natural disasters, one after the other. But the educational disasters are not natural. They are man-made, so we can change them.”
The Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence is committed to challenging systemic patterns of inequities in education and to ensuring all Montgomery County Public School students have equitable access to the resources, opportunities, and supports they need to be successful in school, work, and life. The Coalition, co-founded by the NAACP—Montgomery County Chapter and Identity, has grown to include over 30 organizations that collectively serve tens of thousands of families. Learn more at bandbcooalition.org