NEA Report: The Proliferation of Pandemic Pods, Micro-Schools, and Home Education
Many families—unsatisfied with district and state school building reopening plans—are turning to “pandemic pods” as an alternative to sending their children back to in-person instruction. Public schools play a vital role in all students’ education, and pandemic pods and other home-based education programs weaken the schools’ ability to do so. For these reasons and more discussed in the NEA’s report “The Proliferation of Pandemic Pods, Micro-Schools, and Home Education,” the NEA cautions against the establishment of independent, non-public pandemic pods, micro-schools, and home education programs that are operated outside the authority of state and district public school systems.
A Highlight From the Report:
10 Things to Know
- Many families are looking into “pandemic pods” to educate their children this upcoming school year. These will be used to either supplement or replace distance learning options offered by public schools.
- We’ve already seen opportunity gaps widen for students—specifically Indigenous, Black, and students of color and students from under-resourced communities. The proliferation of pandemic pods, micro-schools, and home education will widen this gap and worsen school segregation as well-resourced families will disproportionately benefit.
- Just like any private school, pandemic pods do not guarantee students or educators the same civil rights protections that are required in public schools. Furthermore, pandemic pods will likely not provide the necessary supports for students with disabilities as required under state and federal legislation.
- In non-public school programs, students are not held accountable to state standards of learning. Educators are not required to be credentialed. In some cases, unqualified college students, babysitters, and nannies will be hired as teachers.
- Credentialed educators who teach in a pandemic pod have no guaranteed protections or benefits like those secured under contracts working for school districts.
- Private funders have invested approximately $1.7 billion in 2019 in education technology (ed-tech) firms. They now see “pandemic pods” as the way of the future, pushing talking points that traditional public schools are outdated.
- Private schools and home education programs, just like pandemic pods, are not accountable to the public. Therefore, they do not have to be transparent about their finances or how decisions are made.
- U.S. Senate Republicans have recently introduced a bill that would create a voucher program entitled “Emergency Education Freedom Grants,” which would allow families to use government funding for programs like “pandemic pods.” This is yet another radical proposal from Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump for a voucher program.
- Vouchers do not reduce education costs. They do reduce the amount of money public schools receive as fewer families enroll.
- Public schools serve all students, and educators work tirelessly to make sure all students are receiving a high-quality education. Programs like pandemic pods will make it harder to achieve equity in schools, which is a cornerstone of American democracy.