August 7, 2020

On today's show, Adrian and Ethan discuss America's great remote-learning experiment and what surveys say about how it worked. They also take a look at the "Pandemic Learning Pods" that are sweeping the nation and the very real concern that this will further widen the opportunity gap. Later, we hear about some kids who are making a difference for those on their community.

When school buildings initially closed, some school leaders said they didn’t have the capacity to move to remote instruction. But that rapidly changed. More than a dozen national surveys of teachers, parents, students, and school administrators conducted over the past few months offer the clearest initial tally of successes and failures.

Two-thirds to three-quarters of teachers said their students were less engaged during remote instruction than before the pandemic, and that engagement declined even further over the course of the semester.

Many public schools with lower-income students offered only a minimum of real-time instruction this past spring. A recent survey of 474 school districts by the American Institutes for Research showed that high-poverty districts generally had lower expectations for how long students should be spending on schoolwork each day.

Lucy's Love Blankets

Veronica Blaylock taught her daughter Lucy how to sew when she was just eight-years-old. Together, they started making flannel “love blankets” for other kids each with a signature Lucy heart sewn in.

To date, Lucy has made almost 550 blankets, and has shipped them to 15 countries around the world. They have gone to kids who have been bullied, have been fighting cancer, struggling with illness and disability, dealing with hard issues such as divorce and death, mental illness, and a variety of other things.

Lucy is 11-years-old now and busier than ever with Lucy's Love Blankets, but things have changed a bit this year. “Because of COVID-19, we decided to put the love blankets aside for a minute and start making masks,” Lucy said in an interview. She has sewn and given away thousands of masks to healthcare workers.

Brianna and Ashley Made Keychains

Two years ago, Oakland sisters Brianna and Ashley Wong received a catalog during Christmas time that would donate ducks and chickens to people in need in other countries, and that really struck a chord with the girls.

They decided to earn money by making bracelets and other things to raise money. Nine-year-old Brianna and her 6-year-old sister Ashley, started the nonprofit Duck + Chick. So far, they have donated to Heifer International, World Vision and Compassion.

When COVID-19 hit, the East Bay kids switched gears and starting making keychains to raise money for their local No Kid Hungry program while their local schools are closed.