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‘I loved school’: an 11-year-old’s struggle against pandemic learning


Distance learning – which Jordyn does for half the week today – is clearly part of her struggle. Her mother says she can’t afford Wi-Fi on her $ 12 an hour salary as a security guard – a situation shared by many families in Mississippi, where about half of the students don’t. have no reliable broadband at home, the highest percentage of any state, according to a Common Sense Media study.

But Jordyn’s story, which The New York Times documented over a week in Clarksdale, is more than inadequate technology. It is also about the additional disruption the pandemic has brought to a working class family who were already struggling to make ends meet. And it highlights the limits of blended learning in reaching these disengaged students.

“I loved school,” he said softly. “Now I don’t even like it anymore because it’s too hard.”

Until the pandemic, Jordyn and his mother lived in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he was known among his teachers as a bright but easily distracted student, able to fly away when engaged.

Shermell Hooper, her second-grade teacher, remembers having to stand over her desk before writing her name at the top of the page. If she assigned a reading passage, she had to sit next to him to have it read.

On the day of a nationally standardized test, she said, Jordyn was sitting at his computer, humming to himself and rolling over in his chair. She thought he was laughing at him – until the results came.

When his mother came to pick him up, a school administrator was waiting for him and she was worried that Jordyn was in trouble. “That’s when they told me he got not only the best score in his class, but the best score in the whole class,” she said.

At a school-wide assembly, Jordyn’s name was called out, his classmates cheered, and he was given a new bike.



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