By Felicia Gans, Globe Staff
The Globe's Great Divide team investigates the deep inequalities in our public education system, examining both the challenges and possible solutions to creating equal opportunity for all students. Anyone interested can sign up for this free newsletter here.

Last week, we launched our new Great Divide webpage, which will house all our coverage, including stories about race and opportunity in our classrooms, school reopening amid the pandemic, and more. Check it out here, and save it as a bookmark on your web browser so you can check back regularly.

There will be no newsletter next week in observance of Labor Day. We'll see you back here on Monday, Sept. 14.
The latest from The Great Divide team

These parents take online instruction to a new level

One morning this spring, occupational therapist Emily Nunes slowly walked Brayden Garcia through an art project using crayons, scissors, and glue.

The session, meant to help the 6-year-old master daily skills, would normally be very hands-on. But Nunes was teaching via Zoom, and it was Brayden’s mother, Navisha Garcia, who helped him draw flowers on construction paper, cut green paper to look like grass, and glue the grass and flowers together, murmuring encouragement as they worked.

Many parents have had to become their children’s teachers as well as full-time caregivers since the pandemic began. But those whose kids need intensive specialized therapies, like Garcia, have had to assume even more daunting responsibilities at home, becoming hands-on assistants to their children’s therapists via Zoom.

-Julia Preszler, Globe Correspondent

Read more.
Brayden Garcia, 6, let out a triumphant smile after jumping off of a step with the help of his mom, Navisha, and nurse Ashley Soares, with his brother and sister helping out, during physical therapy via Zoom. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)
Teaching about racism is urgent — but tricky

The question for educators at all levels during the 2020-21 school year, then, is not so much whether to teach about racism, but how: How can they teach in a thoughtful way that does right by all students, especially with the added challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic? Whether students are taking classes remotely or in person with masks on, their expressions and reactions to such sensitive discussions will be tough to read.

Given that school districts and teachers have to contend with this nation’s assortment of views on policing — such as the argument that police shootings of Blacks don’t truly stem from racism — how can they be sure to let students reach their own conclusions?

-Linda K. Wertheimer, Globe Ideas

Read more.

Plus, here are 10 tips for teaching about racism.

Remote learning for kids means more work for parents

It’s the question on so many working parents’ minds as it becomes obvious the school year will be far from normal: Can I survive remote learning?

Some of you reading those words might start to break out in hives, just remembering what it was like when schools had to close abruptly in March to contain the coronavirus. Overnight, it turned many of us into tech support for our kindergartners and first-graders.

At least in the spring, there were few expectations from public school districts. Now, with more time to figure out what to do, schools will be demanding more accountability this academic year. Among other measures: giving out grades and taking attendance. In normal times, that’s a good thing. In pandemic times, that means parents will be expected to keep their remote learners on track.

-Shirley Leung, Globe Staff

Read more.

In Globe Opinion: Trust us like the heroes you said we were

As Massachusetts teachers, we’re used to Augusts filled with back-to-school shopping, planning meetings with colleagues, and nervous dreams about the first day of school. And as Massachusetts Teachers of the Year, we’re also well-versed in the nuances of education policy in the state.

That’s why, in a time already marked by anxiety over how to ensure that learning in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is effective, joyful, and, most important, safe for all students, we were disappointed to read the guidelines issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

-Sydney Chaffee, Takeru Nagayoshi, Jamil Siddiqui, Cara Pekarcik, and Audrey Jackson, each named as "Teachers of the Year"

Read more.
All in this Together? How to Minimize Harm in Reopening Schools
Thursday, Sept. 10
4-5 p.m.

Massachusetts families have never faced tougher choices about how best to educate their children than this school year. School officials and policymakers, too, must balance competing — at times conflicting — needs and priorities when the stakes are higher than ever.
Join us for a discussion on how Massachusetts residents can find common cause at a perilous time.

RSVP here.
School reopening news
We have published all the reopening decisions for Massachusetts' school districts. Find your district in our tracker here.
Other education news from the Globe
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More about The Great Divide
The Great Divide builds on the findings of the Globe's Valedictorians Project, a Pulitzer Prize finalist that published in January 2019. The project revealed that even the best students in Boston public schools often struggle after high school. The Great Divide team is examining public education in the region, with humanity and empathy, and with a goal of provoking public discussion and exploring what might be done to fix core issues of inequality, social mobility, and economic opportunity. Please send ideas and suggestions to:

Tell us what you want to see in our enhanced education coverage.

The Valedictorians Project
Boston's top students from 2005 to 2007 set out to change the world. But then life happened.

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