Some Black Parents in Los Angeles Are Keeping Their Children Home Because There is Less Bullying and Racism With Online Learning

Cali Corbin, 5, a kindergartner at Westwood Charter School, works on a mathematical exercise under the watchful eye of her mother Renee Bailey in their home in Los Angeles on April 9. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Some parents of Black Los Angeles school students opted to keep their children in distance learning after schools reopened in April because they wanted to shield them from inequitable and sometimes harsh treatment on campus, according to a report from a local advocacy group.

Among Black parents surveyed, 82% cited COVID-19 as one factor for keeping their children home and 43% said they were concerned about bullying, racism and low academic standards, according to the report by Speak Up, which conducted focus groups, analyzed district data and conducted its own survey.

The survey of 500 L.A. Unified parents — 96 of whom were black — asked parents about their children’s academic experiences during the pandemic. The opinions expressed by Black parents added new insights into the low return-to-school rates this spring in the nation’s second-largest school district.

Speak Up’s survey respondents roughly match district demographics. Additional Black parents were then surveyed to take a closer look at themes that emerged from focus groups that Speak Up conducted with Black students in 2020. The survey was conducted March 18 to 23.

Participants were recruited by Facebook ads that targeted parents who lived in L.A. and were screened to exclude those who did not identify as LAUSD parents. The survey was conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research and has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points for the entire survey, the report said.

“Black parents were able to see how their children were treated by their peers and instructors while kids learned at home, and in some cases, saw a system that did not benefit them,” the report said. “Many of the same parents who saw that their children seemed to learn better and thrive emotionally away from school now question whether it is in their child’s best interest to return to campus.”

National polls have found that Black and Latino parents — whose communities have been disproportionately hit by COVID-19 — were far more likely than white parents to keep their children in distance learning when schools reopened.

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SOURCE: LA Times, Laura Newberry and Howard Blume

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