Americans miss their public schools, their universities, and their teachers. On this 4th of July we owe much to the frontline hospital healthcare workers who save lives. Also give thanks for America’s teachers. They stand by their students and are trying to navigate uncertainty concerning Covid-19.
Back in March, many believed the virus would be a Shock Doctrine end for public education and teachers. Online learning would replace public schools and teachers. Brick-and-mortar schools would be a thing of the past.
For years, politicians, education reformers, and a zillion nonprofits backed by pro-privatization and technology agendas, pushed for stay at home online learning. Think K12 Inc. and Connections Academy, two online tech programs with abysmal track records.
Online charter schools like Summit and Rocketship are about replacing brick-and-mortar public schools and teachers. During these tedious months both Summit (they’re talking about data downloads) and Rocketship have been promoting their success. Tech plays a supporting role, it doesn’t stand well alone.
Anytime, anywhere learning was supposed to become the new school reality because of Covid-19.
Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan said on Twitter, Can any good come from this terrible time? YES – if we close the digital divide and empower students to learn anything they want, anytime, anywhere.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos used the U.S. Department of Education and the crisis to hail the glories of virtual learning and private schools.
From Matt Barnum at the Chalkbeat:
The department cites research on Florida — a state long promoted as a model by DeVos — showing that a state-wide virtual school “may produce similar outcomes at a lower overall cost.” (But the department omits mention of a broader body of research showing that virtual charter schools produce much worse test scores than traditional schools.).
Governor Andrew Cuomo interjected his Reimagine Education plan in the midst of the dire Covid-19 scene unfolding in New York City. He pondered why school buildings continued to exist. He praised Bill Gates, whose education projects have failed, as a visionary.
But no matter who believed in virtual learning, disruption failed. The tech agenda failed! As parents and teachers scrambled to be online with students, the familiar teacher’s face on the screen in Zoom meetings is what brought children and their parents comfort.
The online experiment fizzled. It wasn’t only K-12.
Several days into the quarantine, a college student bemoaned not being able to finish the year in her in-person class. She appreciated the teacher, and it was disappointing that all had ended early. Another college student on Facebook cried that she couldn’t stand it! She wanted her college back. These are tech savvy students living in an online world.
Technology is useful, critical for future careers. But Americans don’t want it to dominate how students learn. They still want their brick-and-mortar schools and their teachers.
Parents and students want brick-and-mortar schools to reopen. They don’t care about Chromebooks! Online learning became a necessary evil, not an innovation that everyone craves.
Some fear that if schools don’t reopen, technology wins. But it’s the virus and the safety of students and their teachers that should be the focus. If public schools reopen too quickly, they also risk being irresponsible.
Reopening too soon means there will be mistakes and missteps, even deaths. If schools reopen, fail, and close again, the tech enthusiasts might still get the long-lasting foothold its supporters wish.
Everyone misses brick-and-mortar schools and teachers. No one cares about the high-tech talk about school disruption. They’ve had a taste of it and they don’t like it!
Educators and public school activists feared a technology takeover of public education. This love of public schooling and teachers was not supposed to be. Yet here it is.
Happy 4th of July, teachers, students, and parents! May you all be safe and well and enjoy this day. Check out Jimmy Fallon singing praise about teachers.
One day soon, the virus will be conquered and students will be back in the classroom again with renewed appreciation for their teachers and their public schools.
Roy Turrentine says
“Can any good come from this terrible time? YES – if we close the digital divide and empower students to learn anything they want, anytime, anywhere.”
Yes, Arne, there is a Santa Claus. There has long been a way for students to learn anything they want, but in places where there are good libraries, McDonalds still requires more space to meet demand. How can the purveyors of education on-line miss the failure of motivation by machine?
My reports are in line with yours: College students I have talked to are just as frustrated as high school students and their parents. Except for those who are learning specific techniques, on-line is a flop.
Rick B. says
One of the main challenges for a classroom teacher is how to keep things fresh and interesting over the course of a 170+ day school year. We are constantly trying to reinvigorate and re-motivate students who can become easily bored and restless. We use the leverage of established rapport, humor, stories, voice inflections, group work, and engaging activities fine tuned over years of experience. The majority of students disliked their on-line experiences and they will enter a new school year with very low expectations and poor morale. A full 10 month school year of strictly remote instruction will get old very quickly – for both students and parents. Many will simply disappear from cyberspace knowing full well that despite the best efforts of teachers, this is not “real school”.