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Day 5 Remote Ramblings …School closures showing the best and worst in our leaders

Commentary by: Jeanne Allen, Founder and CEO of CER

This is the headline from the WSJ for March 20, 2020:

At Schools Closed for Coronavirus, Online Work Won’t Count

Because administrators can’t guarantee all students will have access, some schools call online work ‘enrichment,’ not part of curriculum

This is ridiculous. No, it’s worse than ridiculous. This is insanity. I’m actually at a loss for words. My family and children can attest to the rarity of this situation. 

In Chicago, Administrators claimed they must do this to avoid “equity” issues and on Wednesday, days after having signaled online learning would occur, “changed course and said that teachers can grade work as long as it increases academic standing and doesn’t negatively impact a student’s grades.”

Why give anyone a chance to learn when not everyone has access, said the local union leader. 

Put another way – better 100 students fall behind than 99 of them continue to learn but one miss out. 

But are they really worried that every poor household doesn’t have a computer or internet access, or are they worried that online learning will prove to actually work, and demonstrate that the traditional classroom, may not be superior for learning? Could this crisis spark a demand for real time learning, regardless of space and place and make the traditional classroom obsolete? 

The Learn Charter Network in Chicago, which serves predominantly the lowest income students rapidly created home Learning Packets and E-Learning Tools. “[We]  have been in constant communication, by phone and email, with each of their families to answer questions and help with any challenge a child or family may be facing.” Learn is doing everything it can to ensure students keep learning.

So was the Northshore District outside of Seattle, until Governor Jay Inslee told them that nothing districts provide to students remotely will count as learning.

Michigan today decreed the same fiat, as have Iowa, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, including forbidding the continuation of already completely virtual schools!

Meanwhile, Colorado, Florida and Rhode Island Governors are full speed ahead on whatever it takes remotely for students to keep getting an education.

But sadly most are waiting for a green light, permission slip or command from Washington that is akin to taking the 5th. They want to be assured that anything they say or do won’t be held against them in a court of law… and would prefer not to stand up for principle rather than take a risk …

And some people wonder why we’re so strident about demanding freedom for parents, flexibility for educators and innovation across the whole wide school world!

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