In new poll, GAE members say disparities exist with the distance learning experience

For Immediate Release
June 18, 2020

ATLANTA -- In a recent survey of Georgia Association of Educator (GAE) members conducted by the National Education Association (NEA), Georgia members feel distance learning is going okay for them, but not great.  The most critical issues seem to be student participation, parents being unable to assist their children, lack of access to computers and technology, and unreliable internet connections.

The poll indicates that major equity problems exist between low and high poverty area schools.

  • Overall, responses show that those working in schools where a higher percent of students receive free and reduced meals are reporting lower class attendance.
  • 2/3 or (65%) of members working in low poverty communities indicate that more than half of their students are participating in distance learning, while only 1/5 or 22% of those working in high poverty communities say that more than half their students are participating in distance learning.

Other takeaways include:

  • Ninety-eight percent of members polled said they were engaged in some form of distance learning including non-teaching actions such as digital counselling.
  • Zoom and Google Handouts/Meet are the most used platforms with Microsoft Teams coming in third.
  • More than half, 64%, say they have required class assignments, while 59% are grading assignments.  Testing seems to be happening about 22% of the time, while attendance is only required around 14% of the time.
  • Comparing school workloads now to before the pandemic, 41 percent of members workloads have increased, while 36 percent have similar workloads and only 23 percent boast smaller workloads.  This trends closely with national figures.
  • For those members who have children at home, managing the job has become more difficult for 62 percent of them, and amongst those, very difficult for 23 percent.  Close to 40 percent say it hasn’t been difficult.

When asked if they felt their family was struggling during this crisis, 39 percent of members said they were, versus 61 percent who said they were not.

GAE President Charlotte Booker says this indicates that there is much more work to be done to ensure those students in high poverty areas and those where a higher percentage of students receive a free or reduced meal receive the proper education they deserve and are guaranteed by our state constitution.  “For the foreseeable future, there will continue to be uncertainty regarding schools being able to physically reopen.  The underlying infrastructure of distance learning in high poverty and FARM schools must rise to the occasion or we risk setting a generation behind in their studies.  There are many moving pieces in this puzzle, but we absolutely must tap our brightest minds in education, government, business and the community to get this done.”

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