Spencer Orange

An Open Letter to Our Community| COVID-19

News

More drastic change to education systems has occurred in the last week than it has in arguably the last 50 years. What possibilities does this open up for the future of learning, for the reorganization of our institutions, for the centrality of families and family life?

Dear Spencer Community,

With the rest of the nation and the world, we have been reeling with the fast-paced turn of events as we all manage the national health pandemic created by the exponential spread of COVID-19. Like most other places, our staff at Spencer is working remotely, and we are finding new ways to be in community, to be together, and to uphold one another and our work.

And our hearts are breaking as we witness the fall-out from the effects of the pandemic on our communities. We are holding so much in our hearts and minds.

We are holding the worry of those who are sick and the sorrow of those who have already lost a loved one to this virus both here and abroad.

We are holding undergraduate students who have had to move abruptly from their living spaces, and who may be housing or food insecure.

We are holding graduate students whose dissertation studies may be irreparably altered, and who are anxious about what this means for their job-seeking process and their futures.

We are holding faculty members and staff at universities across the country who are learning to teach and serve students online, while caring for young children and/or elderly parents and needing to attend to their own health and well-being.

We are holding parents and caregivers at home with their kids, managing the tension between supporting their children’s learning and just wanting to make sure they feel safe and loved in an unprecedented time.

We are holding all of the teachers and school administrators and education leaders who are trying to figure out how to support children and families, and how to do so equitably.

We are holding the junior faculty whose work and careers have been disrupted, in ways that may have reverberating effects for years to come.

We are holding the scholars and students with disabilities who have been told for years that virtual participation was too cumbersome or not possible, and who are watching the world participate in work and school virtually over a very short span of time.

We are holding the gravity of the reality that in this moment of collective trauma and crisis, the negative effects are experienced much more drastically by those who are already vulnerable in our society—those in poverty, immigrants, the undocumented, people of color, Indigenous peoples, those with disabilities, those in foster care or without safe and loving family structures. This crisis is exposing the extreme fissures in our society and the deep and abiding obligation we have to put things right.

And we are trying to hold that there are also remarkable responses unfolding, as we push ourselves not be paralyzed by a state of despair.

More drastic change to education systems has occurred in the last week than it has in arguably the last 50 years. What possibilities does this open up for the future of learning, for the reorganization of our institutions, for the centrality of families and family life?

We are seeing mass recognition of the importance of educators and the prioritizing of children and family - not labor – at the center of life. We are seeing a shift in everyday life that is needed for carbon reduction and climate change. We are seeing a rapid-scale institutional response that just a month ago was discursively impossible.

As our daily lives are rapidly reconfiguring, how can we be self-determining in the reconfiguration? We need to hold the devastating impacts of this moment, and can we also reach for what might be possible that wasn’t visible before? It may be that social distancing isn’t quite the right frame for what we need right now. We certainly need physical distancing. But we also need to imagine and act from places of social closeness and care. What if we recognized this moment as also a possibility to reconfigure life towards the world we want? What kinds of new questions would we ask, what kinds of reimagining might we do together? We want to find ways to think with you all about this, and to create spaces in which we can reimagine together.

We are thinking about these big questions, even as we also think about how we can support the education research community in this moment, and about our role in meeting some of the very acute needs of schools and families that are pressing and urgent in our local context and nationally.

We hope that you and your loved ones are well, and we are more committed than ever to do our work in a way that supports learning and thriving of educators, families, young people, and communities.

 

Na’ilah Suad Nasir| President

Megan Bang| Senior Vice President

Comments

Deepika 5 months

Really above words are the food for thought. Deep pain in our heart, for all those who have suffered and is suffering due to outbreak of Pandemic.Its the time to think over again human existence and their survival on this earth. But as someone says this too shall pass. With the hope and positive note, this situation will bring a new change in the human community, their ways of living,food habits, ways and medias of learning and so on. At the end, I would like to say that in every bad situation there is a hidden opportunity. So we must learn from this global crisis and prepare a strategic planning for achievement of sustainable development.


Mwirigi Kiula 5 months

This is certainly the most significant event in the last and next decade. The only time we have had a global closure of our education institutions. And affected students in the billions and every nation on earth. We hold on in trust and confidence that it shall pass and we shall find traction to a better education, research and innovation.


karen Erickson 6 months

Like the Spencer Foundation, we are holding so much in our hearts and minds. We are specifically holding the students who are the focus of our research – students with the most severe disabilities whose schools are closed, whose families are struggling to provide both care and education, and whose teachers are finding few resources to offer support from a distance. We are holding these students whose medical profiles mean they now live more threatened lives. Karen Erickson, David Koppenhaver, Charna D’Ardenne, Nitasha Clark, George Noblit


Tonya Walls 6 months

I agree. The most thoughtful, compassionate, and inspiring response to the current social context thus far. I appreciate and am grateful for this and will share it with my peers and colleagues with hopes that it inspires them as well. Thank you for this. It is needed!


Agustina Paglayan 6 months

This is the most beautiful, compassionate, thoughtful, inspiring thing I have read in weeks. Thank you.


Vera Michalchik 6 months

Thank you for posing these most meaningful questions:
"What if we recognized this moment as also a possibility to reconfigure life towards the world we want? What kinds of new questions would we ask, what kinds of reimagining might we do together?"
And for helping us find some of the answers.


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