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.
The latest from The Great Divide team

Less excited, less prepared, less challenged: Mass. high school students report big disparities in learning online vs. in person

Massachusetts high school students learning from home during the pandemic report feeling less excited about learning, less prepared for college, and less challenged in class than those learning fully in person, a survey released Tuesday shows.

The survey of 1,000 high school students across the state adds students’ voices to the roiling debate among parents, teachers, and epidemiologists over reopening schools nearly a year after the pandemic forced widespread closures. The telephone surveys of public and private school students, which occurred last November and December, showed large disparities in academic impacts of the pandemic, which could compound educational inequities for years to come.

-Naomi Martin, Globe Staff

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In some Boston schools, in-person education will resemble remote learning

Thousands of students in Boston have been stuck at home for nearly a year, dreaming of the day they can go back into school and leave their laptop screens behind. But when they finally return to classrooms over the next two months, many will find no escape from online learning.

To serve both students in the classroom and those at home without hiring extra staff, hundreds of teachers in Boston Public Schools will instruct both groups simultaneously, with everyone logging onto Zoom or Google Classroom — whether they are miles away or 10 feet from their teacher.

-Jenna Russell and Bianca Vázquez Toness, Globe Staff

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Lauren Choy, a sophomore at Boston Latin School, participated in her history class while sitting in her family's dining room in Jamaica Plain. (Erin Clark/Globe Staff)
This Cambridge high school made changes during the pandemic, leading to remote-learning success

While horror stories about remote learning abound, some students are quietly thriving in cyberspace, including many who are easily distracted in typical classrooms or suffer from social anxiety.

At a Cambridge school, staff gave out laptops and Wi-Fi hot spots and pushed the start of classes to mid-morning so students could sleep in and log in to classes feeling more alert. They also set up weekly one-on-one meetings for every student with each of their teachers, enabling them to get extra help with their classes and obstacles in their lives.

-James Vaznis, Globe Staff

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In budget plans, Boston school leaders start to map out recovery

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius revealed plans Wednesday to spend $1.3 billion on city schools next year, $36 million more than this year. Per pupil spending would rise to $23,500 from $22,000.

Nearly half of the additional funds will pay for approximately 175 new social workers and family liaisons to work at schools. And more than $18 million will go toward maintaining staff and programming at schools that have lost large numbers of students — and with them, state and federal dollars.

-Bianca Vázquez Toness, Globe Staff

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Other education news from the Globe

We are tracking outbreaks, cases, and other coronavirus-related incidents affecting Massachusetts schools. See our tracker here.
What we're reading

○ Missing in School Reopening Plans: Black Families’ Trust (The New York Times)

○ Forum examines Boston-area school segregation
(The Bay State Banner)

○ Conn. education head Miguel Cardona, nominee for US education secretary, vows to tackle problems worsened by coronavirus (Associated Press)

○ Denver to prioritize teachers at high-poverty schools for COVID-19 vaccine (Chalkbeat)

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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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