The Power of Equitable Pods

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Mike Teng

Co-founder and CEO at Swing Education

Inequality in education is very deeply rooted and centuries old. And now we’re facing the coronavirus pandemic, which has amplified inequality across every aspect of society, including education.

How important is public education for America? With each school that closes its physical doors, it becomes more and more clear just how much of a stabilizing force education is for our entire society. Without operational schools, the whole economy is handicapped.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced schools to plan on remote learning in Fall. It’s very evident that schools and teachers are rising to the challenge in creating engaging, remote curriculum. But it’s also true that having students at home poses challenges for parents. And for students, remote learning means missing the critical social emotional learning they typically get from interacting with other students.

As schools have gone virtual, many parents have turned to “pods.” In response, Swing Education started our Bubbles service to provide those families with educators for at-home learning.

There are many concerns that have been expressed about pods. Two of the biggest are: 1) it increases the gap between students who can and can’t afford this type of service, and 2) pods will reduce district enrollment, and in turn, district funding. I’ll address these in reverse. On the second point, we’re seeing that the vast majority of our requests are from students who will remain fully enrolled in public schools. Our goal is to provide educators that can help supplement the remote education provided by districts, and provide an avenue for in-person social-emotional learning between students. 

On the first point, this is true and something we have to tackle. Swing Education was founded with a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and now it’s time for us to figure out how to make pods accessible.

We are asking districts and foundations to help us fill the equity gap. Swing Education doesn’t have the means to fill the nearly $1 trillion gap that has been left by schools not being physically open. But we do have the experience working with educators and school districts, and now families, to help close that gap, get people back to their jobs, take care of teachers’ own parenting responsibilities so that they can focus on their teaching responsibilities, and support districts with their transition back to full operation.

Our goal is to help 50,000 students, from either low-income families or who are children of full-time teachers, get access to Swing Education teachers through our Learning Bubbles.

Foundations, let us know if you are interested in helping us fill this urgent need.

Superintendents, let us know how we can help match your teachers’ or students’ families with Learning Bubbles.

We are all in this together.

Reach out to equity@swingeducation.com. We will have an update next week.

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