The All Healers Mental Health Alliance (AHMHA)

By The All Healers Mental Health Alliance

The All Healers Mental Health Alliance (AHMHA) is a national organization compriosed of physicians,sychiatrists, nurses, social workers professionals, psychologists, and other health professionals, along with community advocates, faith leaders, and advocates health professionals from across the country. They facilitate long- term, culturally competent congruent responses to the mental health needs of survivors of disasters and their caregivers. In this space and time, we are in a crisis moment relative to the education of our Black children.

The Education Task Force of the AHMHA is sounding the alarm for Black youth and the potentially devastating effects of virtual education. In this age of CovidOVID-19, learning virtually has become a necessity. However, in Black and other marginalized communities with limited power and economic resources, it only compounds the issues of disparity that already exist. Across the country, too many Black children and their families live in these under-resourced communities, where survival has been and remains the primary objective.  Grandparents raising grandchildren are struggling, as well.  COVID-19 has increased the urgency of survival. across the nation just are trying to survive before, during and after this crisis.

The additional burden of learning virtually, while necessary, is a daunting one. Grandparents raising grandchildren are struggling, as well. Given the obvious glaring economic disparities in underserved communities, the additional burden of acquiring the necessary equipment may be overwhelming to some families. The digital divide is one more reality that separates people, and this time, there are immediate and long-term consequences.  Black children living in these families and communities are likely to experience additional academic and social and emotional defeats when compared to their counterparts who live in more affluent communities. very real. Consequently, the children of these families may fall further behind than their classmates in other neighborhoods.

Virtual learning invokes a series of questions. When the pandemic is over, what do we do with the children who fell into the digital divide to help them “catch up”?  How do children with special needs continue to learn and grow? What does that plan look like? or do Do the academic and social and emotional disparities continue to increase, but now, psychological, sociological, and educational disparities increase exponentially?  Are there any consequences for those students unable to complete their homework? Will those consequences be applied equally to Black students?  Importantly, how will the short- and long-term consequences be ameliorated, if at all?

Social and economic disparities, in this time, can also invoke continued feelings of oppression. Those feelings, coupled with the invasion of privacy for those Black families fortunate enough to have a computer dedicated to their child’s virtual education, shines light on other concerns that may arise during episodes of remote learning.  Some families are uncomfortable having the inside of their homes and whoever lives with them viewed and judged by teachers and possibly reported to authorities. another question which arose, recently, in Maryland. The school sent police to search a fifth grader’s home after two teachers and a “concerned parent” reported to the school principal that they had seen a gun on the wall behind the student during virtual classes. Upon searching the home it was discovered that the gun was not real. In fact, it was a BB gun. The principal and the teacher cited the school policy that no guns may be brought to school and contended that the policy extended to virtual classes. This is an example of the unintended consequences of Vvirtual education which may give rise to circumstances that provide yet another opportunity for Black families to be subjected to more scrutiny and more disparate treatment for students of color.

This pandemic has clearly affected the entire nation and the global community. In order to address our current educational challenges we need comprehensive policy adaptations in our schools and we need equal access to the digital media and connectivity necessary for to ensure quality academic and social and emotional learning in schools and communities success in this environment.  Comprehensive legislative changes on the local, state, and federal levels are also sorely needed now. As we face the beginning of an uncertain school year, one of the most critical needs is equal access to the digital media needed in across all of our communities. 

We all know that Oour children are the future., including our Black children. CovidOVID -19 caught us all by surprise. Bbut we have had some time to become well informed and address the needs of youth with the best educational practices, robust systems-related accountability, and continued improvement.  The future of Black youth is intimately entwined with our efforts to improve and enhance the quality of academic and social and emotional learning.need to get answers to these questions as we strive to achieve racial and educational equity.