The latest stimulus package proposal advocates for up to $170 billion to be put into America’s education system – significantly more than the previous two relief packages ($30.7b and $82b) combined.
Across all 50 states, $54.3 billion will be distributed to K-12 schools as part of the package, largely through Title I funding. COVID-19 disrupted education for many students in the nation as they transitioned to learning from home in the spring of 2020. This funding will support schools as they figure out their remote learning action plan for the new school year and continue making the transition to distance learning.
But, what can districts do to make sure that their spending is highly effective at increasing equity across their schools?
Many influential school leaders have recommended that districts use their funding on education technology, according to a story by McGraw Hill. This can include acquiring equipment for teachers and students that facilitates better distance learning, which is important because millions of students still don’t have access to proper home internet and thousands are still in need of laptops.
By investing in technology, teachers will have access to the tools they need to create engaging remote classes and students can receive the high-quality education they deserve.
While technology can bring students back into a live classroom with their teachers, it doesn’t change how many students have fallen behind this year due to a sudden shift in their learning environment.
“They didn’t have a chance to say goodbye,” Proximity Learning science teacher Casey Harris said in response to how the pandemic affected her students. “They all thought they were gonna get to come back.”
To ensure that students are prepared for their next year of school, afterschool and summer school programs are a perfect supplemental solution.
Proximity Learning offers core, world language, AP, and CTE courses that districts can utilize to fill their needs for summer and afterschool programs. In all of our courses, we provide a certified teacher live-streamed into the classroom so students can receive the same interactive, dynamic, and quality learning experience as a brick-and-mortar class.
“Education is changing,” said Dr. Joe Rodriguez, Chief of Schools at Fort Bend ISD. “We all know that. It's changing at a faster rate now than it ever has before. … The ability to work with Proximity Learning has allowed us to see a very different way to bring teachers on board and to select highly qualified individuals to instruct our students.”
Even before the pandemic, teacher shortages were projected to reach 200,000 in the United States by 2024. COVID-19 has only exacerbated this problem. In combination with smaller state budgets, it’s increasingly difficult for districts to find teachers, especially in niche areas like Advanced Placement and World Language courses.
But, that doesn’t mean offering them is impossible. Relief Funding can go towards using a service that can start live-streaming certified teachers to your students immediately at an affordable price - regardless of whether you are filling a vacancy or expanding a department.
“When you have such a large district, there is going to come a time where there may be a course being offered at one campus, and not necessarily being offered at another,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “It may be that one campus on the far east side may not have the number of students that show interest in the course. but you have a campus on the far west side that is showing extreme interest in that course. So during situations like that, we do utilize the ability to have a distance learning course to ensure that all students are given the opportunity to be instructed in that course and to receive course credit.”
While Dr. Rodriguez utilized Proximity Learning to ensure equitable access to courses across his schools, other districts have invested in education technology to prepare students for college.
“In Ohio, it is not a requirement to have a foreign language, but it is required if you are going on to college,” said Marnisha Brown, Richmond Heights High School principal. “We did not want to take that track away. We did not want to tell parents we didn’t have those offerings and were not preparing our students for college.”
Because of the school’s small population, Brown said it was difficult to achieve their world language staffing needs. By investing in Proximity Learning, Brown saw higher student enrollment in foreign language courses.
Other programs like Music, Arts, and various CTE courses have been defunded as a result of budget cuts across the country. By utilizing an option that will live-stream teachers into your classroom, schools can reestablish these lost programs in a more affordable and customizable manner.
There are numerous ways your district can place Students First by bringing equity back to your schools. We strive every day to pursue equitable access to quality education for students everywhere. No matter what you need, Proximity Learning can give you expertise and convenience when it comes to teaching and learning online.