“Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance wheel of the social machinery.”
— Horace Mann, 1848.
We all felt the pain, anger and disgust at the murder of George Floyd. As the protests go on we are seeing debate and reform around this complex issue that has plagued our society for decades. It is good to see different government bodies and companies taking up different measures to address race relations, income equality, and police-community relations. These are steps in the right direction, but if we really want to make the long-lasting change we have to address the income gap and the opportunity gap that is there between the black community and the rest of the country.
Here are some statistics that show the difference in opportunity
• The rate of incarceration for black Americans is more than six times that of white Americans
• Black Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites.
• Black household income is 61.6% of that of the typical white household
• Only 40% of black Americans own homes in the U.S., while 70% of whites do
• COVID deaths: It was eye-opening how the death rate among blacks was around twice the whites. It all came down to blacks have higher underlying health conditions and the percentage of the black population in the front line jobs. Both underlying health conditions and working in essential jobs can also be traced to economic disparity.
Education is the best way to tackle the economic and opportunity gap and solve this endemic issue that has plagued our society for generations. The education industry will have to play a key role in the solution. Here are some steps the education industry can take to create a lasting impact on #blacklivesmatter:
Making College Affordable – We have a broken college finance system. The cost of a college education has grown at more than double the rate of inflation for years. COVID in some ways has been an eye-opener. Students had to pay much higher college tuition this spring for online classes compared to what they would have had to pay for a similar experience at online platforms like Udemy, Edx or Coursera. We are all learning that we can teach our students the same material while not having to spend $100-200k+ on college education and coming out with huge student debts. After COVID, top universities like Ivy leagues, MIT, Stanford, etc will still be able to justify their sticker price, but more and more universities and colleges will have to scramble to justify their price. This will force the vast majority of colleges and universities to re-look at the value equation between the quality of education and price. Any movement in making college more affordable will be helpful to the cause of the disadvantaged population and will democratize education
Adoption of Online Education: We in the education sector have to leverage technology to increase access. We have to drive the adoption of online education tools and content providers like Khan Academy to provide access to affordable learning to our students. We at WhizSmart are leveraging technology to bring students in every corner of this country the ability to learn from the top minds of this country. They not only learn the content of the subject but also have the ability to interact with a guide and a coach who can inspire them to achieve excellence and to go to top colleges and to change their life. In support of #blacklivesmatter, we are adopting students from the underprivileged section of the black community for free lessons and free college counseling.
Customize to Childs Way of Learning – We have been teaching the same way for generations. Look at elementary school or middle school curriculum. There is hardly any difference between what we taught generations ago vs now. Neuroscience is teaching us that, there are no bad students, just different students. We have to tailor what we teach and how we teach to the kids’ way of learning. Again here technology can be a great way to create mass customization of content and how we teach to every student’s interest and how they learn. The more we engage kids the more we create a pull and a thirst for learning. At WhizSmart we match tutors and students based on their style of learning.
Teach for tomorrow’s world and not yesterday’s – In the world of artificial intelligence and robotics, we don’t know what tomorrow’s world will look like. All we know is that people will have to compete with programs and machines for value add. Also, we know that people will have to change multiple careers over their lifetimes. So how do we train the workforce of tomorrow? We can’t just indulge in rote learning. We have to focus on creativity, adaptability, decision making – traits which programs and robots will have a tough time learning. We have to drive this change and technology literacy in all schools so that our black students are prepared for tomorrow. At WhizSmart our tutors focus on creative thinking and concepts and less on just rote learning. Also, we are driving an increase in computer and coding literacy among middle school and high school students.
Change how we fund our school systems – Unfortunately, segregation lives on in America. Typically whites and blacks live in different neighborhoods. White neighborhoods typically have much better-funded school systems which can attract better teachers. This happens due to how schools are funded which is local taxes like property taxes. Typically African American neighborhoods are poor, have lower house prices, and thus less tax money to afford good school systems and better teachers. We have to break this seclusion and find a different way to fund schools – may be at the state level and not at the local level. We at WhizSmart are doing our bit by allowing the black community access to the best supplemental education possible at very affordable prices.