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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty

Inequities in education funding require a hard look as students of color struggle with lack of access to high-quality education, National Education Association (NEA) president Becky Pringle said at a virtual Axios event Tuesday.

Why it matters: Systemic racism is embedded in the structures of American education, and it sets up a stark divide between white students and students of color, who often do not share access to the same resources.

The big picture: The country’s most affluent schools are often a mile away from the country’s poorest, Pringle said. And at these public schools, a majority of students are often students of color.

  • “When you take a look, you will not see AP courses. You will not see counselors and nurses. You will see overcrowded classrooms. You will see ventilation systems that are outdated, crumbling buildings, things that tell the students themselves that adults in our systems do not care about them.”
  • 60 million students — 25% of all students — already lacked access to digital tools and online learning before the pandemic, according to Pringle. COVID-19 has widened that gap.
  • Studies show that increases in per-pupil spending lessen the chance of adult poverty for low-income students.

Go deeper: The public school funding divide

Go deeper

Chicago teachers union votes against returning to classrooms

Chicago teachers prepare to teach their students remotely. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Chicago Teachers Union voted against returning to in-person learning despite the district's plan for K-8 students to return to classrooms on Feb 1, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: District officials have said that the union's decision to disobey the order to return to schools would violate the union’s collective bargaining agreement, which prohibits union members from striking. Union officials, however, say that teachers retuning to schools without being vaccinated would put them at greater risk of contracting the virus.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

14 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.