A message from Childhood Development Specialist Tracy Pham
One year ago, as the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the PECE teachers prepared to turn instruction virtual. We were aware that doing so would render our services inaccessible to our most marginalized families, but we did not want to put our families’ health at risk, especially knowing that some had limited access to healthcare. Every programmatic change thereafter were not choices. Rather, they were compromises we had to make between our students’ education and everyone’s health and safety. Many times, these two priorities seemed inversely proportional to one another.
For many parents and students of marginalized communities in America, enduring structural inequities have always forced them to make difficult decisions when it came to education. Prior to the current public health crisis, the compromise might have been between enrolling in a more financially-resourced school over one that was more culturally inclusive. Now, the compromise for higher-quality education could literally be life itself. Either situation is dehumanizing because families’ opportunity and agency are taken away.
Almost exactly one year after our initial closure, the PECE teachers are preparing to open classes again for the remainder of the school year. As we move forward, we must center our families’ safety and agency, so that they no longer have to make adverse compromises for education. That starts with offering accessible, inclusive, high-quality services to our parents and students, and it extends to reimagining education as a whole to be more accessible, equitable, and humanizing.