- This is another one of those stories where kids and families are the focus of the discussion, but no one bothered to ask any kids or parents their thoughts. However, I’m more interested in this headline: “How much has the coronavirus set kids back in school?” I know it’s a rhetorical device and an eyeball grabber, but this is a serious topic and should not be subject to semantical games: whatever damage has been wrought on children’s learning progress in the last 9 months is entirely due to the systemic response to the virus, not the rona itself. Whenever you’re ready to talk about that, I’ll be here. (Cleveland.com, 11/16/20) Speaking of which, this piece from Findlay purports to focus on “observations and tips” from educators and parents about how they are handling remote learning. Ten such “tips” (and I use that term loosely, having read them) are listed; one is from a parent. (Findlay Courier, 11/14/20) This piece reads like huge cloud of rhetorical and semantical doom, but it does require some caveats. While nearly every northwest Ohio teacher surveyed here said her workload is way up and her well-being is way down due to the stress of teaching during a pandemic, it should be noted that only 98 teachers actually responded. And some of those responses are directly contradictory. A smattering of them: online learning was hard for teachers because they’ve never done it before (or because it just plain sucks no matter who does it), parents were uninvolved (or they were too involved), some kids will never get caught up (and some may end up way more tech-savvy than they were before). Perhaps this is indicative that some schools, districts, and teachers have responded more productively to the systemic challenges brought on by operating during a pandemic. And while nearly 49 percent of survey respondents said that student grades are down, having lost ground in the spring and continued to slide this fall, the chief “academic” (satire!) officer at Toledo City Schools is just about to the point writing off such academic nonsense all together: “I know we’re not going to be able to cover everything that we’ve been able to in the past,” he said. “We need to focus on emotional needs for those carrying heavy burdens and that’s more important than any standards that our teachers are evaluated on or our students are expected to perform on.” If they do say so themselves. (Toledo Blade, 11/15/20)
- Personally, I can’t imagine the whipsaw helps anyone’s frame of mind either. Even teachers. Speaking of which, Groveport-Madison Local Schools followed up their announcement of busing cancellation last week with a swift return to fully-remote learning due to a Covid outbreak among staff. All this after less than a month of operating on a hybrid learning model. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/13/20) Groveport’s new all-remote model is currently scheduled to continue through mid-January. Licking Heights Local School district must be in an earlier phase of grief (or ridiculously optimistic), returning to all-remote learning for just two days (two days?!) this week to adjust to a Covid outbreak. Also among its transportation staff. And also after about a month of operating in a hybrid learning mode. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/16/20) And finally, we end where we began today: in the land of semantics. This piece is pretty good, but the headline—“Brooklyn City Schools finding success with unique hybrid schedule”—is a mess. Firstly, their four-days-on, one-day-off schedule is not unique. But it is consistent and, as the superintendent notes, maintained with parents firmly in mind. Secondly, the only “success” defined here is that they haven’t gone back to fully-remote learning after six weeks. Given that the district has had 14 positive Covid cases and quarantined an entire elementary classroom due to a contact trace, I think “doggedness” is a much more apt term. I’m not sure why a more accurate headline, such as “Brooklyn City Schools putting consistency, safety first”, was not utilized. I think we could all use a bit less semantic varnish these days. (Cleveland.com, 11/16/20)
- We leave the land of semantics for the weird and wild world of Ohio’s General Assembly. There we have another look at the proposed school funding overhaul, in which Patrick O’Donnell must remind folks that, due to the ongoing fight against the pandemic and the economic damage wrought by the state’s response thereto (see what I did there?), no one has 2 billion additional dollars to shake out of the legislative couch cushions. Even if they could fix all the other outstanding issues with the proposal. (The 74, 11/15/20) And if you thought the school funding bill was going into overdrive during the legislative lame duck session, wait until you read about a proposed overhaul of the state’s EdChoice voucher program, which may be fully cooked and piping hot on the table before your Thanksgiving Tofurkey is even thawed. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/16/20)
- And we end today in what can only be Bizarro World. To wit: A virtual townhall event will held this evening to talk about how much Academic Distress Commissions still suck. (Yeah, I know it doesn’t say it that way in the piece, but check out who’s hosting and you’ll see what I mean.) Even though there’s a whole lot suckier stuff going on out there in the real world and even though the two most roiled districts seem to be in pretty good places recently…relatively speaking of course. Wonder if anyone will remember that Youngstown’s Choffin Career Center won an award recently because of report card improvements (and a slew of credentials being earned) among its students over the last three years? I’m guessing no. (WKBN-TV, Youngstown, 11/16/20)
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