How homeschooling 'pods' might just make education inequality worse

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Parents can't keep watching their stuck-at-home children forever, but they also don't want to send them back to school in a pandemic.

That impossible dilemma has led many parents to start forming homeschooling pods and even hire private teachers to come to their homes. But that's only an option for families that can afford it and, if it becomes a widespread and legitimate option this fall, it may only make education inequality even worse, Forbes reports.

These learning pods have popped up as options both in areas that won't reopen schools right away and in those that will. After all, with Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) saying Friday that kids "have got to get back to school," even "if they do get COVID-19, which they will," it's no wonder some parents are trying to come up with something safer.

But Will Huntsbury of the Voice of San Diego — where schools aren't reopening this fall — argues "pods are almost like a 200-year leap backward in history." Watching prerecorded video lessons is no substitute for in-person instruction, "but it's also obvious that creating a pod takes resources" some families just don't have. "The segregation of our neighborhoods and friend groups will not help the situation," he continues.

European schools that have reopened have adopted the pod learning style, but with a twist. Children return to their schools, alleviating parents of their child care responsibilities, but stay in smaller classes of about a dozen students and don't mingle with others. American experts have said these kinds of pods are essential to stem COVID-19 spread as well. Still, they acknowledge reopening isn't possible everywhere, to the continued detriment of students without internet or parents who can devote time to teaching.

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