Even before the recent coronavirus pandemic, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status played a powerful role in allocating opportunity—in the public schools and elsewhere. The pandemic has laid bare the dimensions of this inequality with a new and alarming clarity. In this essay, I first will focus on the landscape of educational inequity that existed before the coronavirus forced public schools to shut down. In particular, I will explore patterns of racial and ethnic segregation in America’s schools and how those patterns are linked to additional challenges based on socioeconomic isolation. In addition, I will consider the role of language and immigration status in shaping educational opportunity. As I will explain, children with the greatest educational need often attend schools with the fewest resources, thus compounding disadvantage.



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