Fed up with remote education, parents who can pay have a new plan for fall: import teachers to their homes.
This goes beyond tutoring. In some cases, families are teaming up to form “pandemic pods,” where clusters of students receive professional instruction for several hours each day. It’s a 2020 version of the one-room schoolhouse, privately funded.
“This is a thing now,” said Phil Higgins, a psychotherapist in Salem, Mass., who joined with two other families to hire a woman to create a “pseudo summer camp” for their four children this summer. They are now considering hiring this woman, who normally works as a school-based behavioral specialist, as a teacher for 40 hours per week during the school year. She would help the kids work through their school-offered remote learning.
“We wanted someone who could do a better job at home-schooling than any of us felt like we did,” Higgins said. He said the cost would be about $1,300 per child per month.
In Lower Merion Township, a suburb of Philadelphia, Carrie Pestronk and her two sons struggled through remote learning in the spring. If it continues into fall, she wants to make school-from-home as normal as possible. She’s trying to recruit a handful of other children and a teacher — perhaps someone finishing college or graduate school — to teach from her basement. She’s particularly worried about her second-grader.
Whites who are doing this know that this is pure privilege in action. But they don’t really care.
These arrangements will allow children with affluent parents and connections to get ahead even as the system makes it harder for other children, said L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, a sociology of education professor at New York University. He calls it a fresh example of “opportunity hoarding.”
He wishes that parents would also work with their schools to find solutions for all children, by pooling resources, for instance.
“Most parents will act in the interest of their child and you can’t tell them not to,” he said. “I say, ‘Act in the interest of your child, and add some equity to it.’ ”
Marshak, in Manhattan, said she thinks about the equity issues. Her son’s elementary school has many low-income families, and she knows they probably cannot afford supplemental help. She would be open to working together, she said, but she doesn’t know them.
“We have a very small group of friends. . . . We settled on these friends when our kid was in nursery school,” she said. “That raises a whole other slew of questions about how do we expand our general social bubble.”
These questions have also been raised on the Facebook group called Pandemic Pods and Microschools, which is mostly being used to facilitate these arrangements.
“The frantic activity I am witnessing of families soliciting private tutors for their children at the tune of hundreds to thousands of dollars to ‘home-school’ their children is frightening to many Black parents and parents of color,” wrote Alison Collins, a member of the San Francisco school board, who identifies as black and mixed race.
Nina Hausman, a white mom in Oakland, Calif., asked parents to consider inviting in, without charge, children whose parents cannot afford private schooling. She added: “Demand your schools are also working on helping with this. This is a concrete way we can and must use our privilege to prevent worsening inequality.”
In Portland, Ore., Laura Sutherland came upon a new Facebook group called “Portland Micro-Schools,” with nearly 1,000 members, and could not believe what she saw.
She thinks sending her 6-year-old daughter back to school would be unsafe, and she knows her daughter will need supervision while learning from home. But Sutherland said she would quit her job — and struggle financially — to help her daughter before she would hire someone from the outside.
“It just seems really privileged,” she said.
Franklin, in Fairfax, said she’s mindful of these concerns but is not letting them stop her. “We can pay,” she said. “We know others can’t, and there will be a gap, and that’s unfortunate.”
What are you going to do! Little Maddie and Connor are going to get their ticket to the New Gilded Age and everyone else can fend for themselves. Hard to see how that doesn’t lead to problems down the road. But yes, obviously I am being completely unreasonable when noting how white parents are complicit with white supremacy through the choices they make for their children…… I just can’t wait for this to be over and rich white parents just continue hiring these people for the extra exclusivity of it.