Income disparities have led to social consequences such as unequal distribution of healthcare, and education, loss of trust in institutions due to corruption, and deterioration of societies’ social fabric. Societies have continuously believed that education can be an equalizer between the rich and the poor (Dabla-Norris et al., 2015). However, the evidence points to the reverse situation of educational inequities based on socioeconomic status. For instance, the federal education report of 2015 indicated funding gap between the rich and poor schools increased by greater than 44% between February 2001 and December 2011 (Kena et al., 2015). For this reason, it is crucial to describe the educational disparities in any city including New York City’s public schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic worsened existing inequalities in education in the aforementioned area. The efforts to prevent human interaction necessitated the need for public schools to develop new ways of learning. Consequently, schools opted for blended in-person and remote learning. More than 50% of students in high-income schools of School District 26, Bayside, in particular, enrolled for virtual learning and were able to study full-time using remote schooling in September of 2020 (New York City Department of Education [NYCDE], n.d.). Conversely, slightly above 14,000 learners in low-income School District 28, out of the approximately 39,000 learners, utilized remote learning during the new academic calendar that began in September 2020 (NYCDE, n.d.). The figures translate to about a third of the total learner population. For this reason, the school-going children from low-income communities did not have equal access to learning compared to their counterparts from high-income communities.
Therefore, the wide gap existing in the access to education between the rich and the poor during the COVID-19 pandemic is a clear indication of educational disparities in New York City’s public schools in terms of the availability of resources and learning opportunities. Access to education has direct consequences on educational achievement. Owens (2018) established that students in high-income communities performed better than those from low-income communities. For this reason, the inequalities in access to education during COVID-19 would compound the achievement gaps between high-income school districts and low-income ones. Therefore, it is essential to address the achievement rates based on income inequalities.
Dabla-Norris, M. E., Kochhar, M. K., Suphaphiphat, M. N., Ricka, M. F., & Tsounta, M. E. (2015). Causes and consequences of income inequality: A global perspective. International Monetary Fund. Web.
Kena, G., Musu-Gillette, L., Robinson, J., Wang, X., Rathbun, A., Zhang, J., Wilkinson-Flicker, S., Barmer, A., & Dunlop Velez, E. (2015). The condition of education 2015. National Center for Education Statistics. Web.
New York City Department of Education. (n.d.). COVID-19 information & updates. Web.
Owens, A. (2018). Income segregation between school districts and inequality in students’ achievement. Sociology of Education, 91(1), 1-27. Web.