COVID-related school closures affected all students. But for students who needed in-person schooling most—students with disabilities, English learners, and students living in poverty—the impact was disproportionate and devastating. One research calls it “the largest increase in educational inequity in a generation.”
Unfinished Learning follows families as they navigate the challenges of virtual learning, from figuring out how to log on to a sometimes unstable school platform to ensuring that their child’s special education needs were addressed. It looks at what data is now showing about which students are (and which students are not) recovering from learning lost during the pandemic.
The book also traces the parent activism that arose as a result of school closures. It explores two elections that followed close on the heels of school reopenings: the 2021 election for governor in Virginia and the 2022 recall of school board members in San Francisco. Many of the conclusions drawn by pundits about both those elections do not fit with either the polling or with parent interviews. Finally, the book offers some suggestions on how schools, families, and communities can prepare for the inevitable next school closures.
Kristen J. Amundson is a former teacher, school board chair, state legislator, and CEO of a national education association. She has written extensively about parent involvement in education. She brings a unique combination of skill and knowledge to this book on the impact of education politics on education policy.
Chapter 1: March 13, 2020
Chapter 2: The COVID Spring
Chapter 3: The Permanent “Temporary” School Closures
Chapter 4: The Pandemic’s Lingering Academic Impact
Chapter 5: Was It Always This Contentious?
Chapter 6: Parents, the New “It Girl” of Politics
Chapter 7: Unfinished Learning
About the Author
Unfinished Learning dispenses with the happy talk about Zoom school: Most students learned less and the neediest kids lost the most learning time. The poster child for the pandemic, writes Amundson, is a child in a car in the McDonald's parking lot trying to get a wifi signal so he can do homework on his phone.
Kris Amundson offers a roadmap that's essential reading for anyone wanting to begin to reckon with the disaster the pandemic response visited on kids and how the education debate reached today's boiling point. Amundson combines experience as a local official, in a state legislature, and as a leader in the education sector to offer a fast-paced tour of how we got here and what needs to happen now.