NOTE: Gadfly Bites will be on vacation this Friday, November 20, and will return with a full catch up on Monday, November 23.
- Fast-moving news cycle this week. Let’s get to it before things change again! An
. Says fifth-grader Adriel Muñiz: “The learning pod is great and nice. It’s nice because I get to meet new people… The learning pod helps you and the school, the regular school it helps you too.” Says considerably-older United Way leader Augie Napoli: “[W]hile it isn’t school, it’s as close to being in school as you possibly can get because you’re plugged in virtually to your teacher, but you also have the support of caregivers and others in a community of other children.” That description sounds really familiar to me… (Spectrum News 1, 11/16/20) In nearby Lakewood, , as this piece explains it. That is, giving students a chance to come to school buildings and receive in-person instruction (so…school?) while the rest of the district is utilizing a fully-remote model. “We've seen some really good outcomes from our students being supported,” says district superintendent Michael Barnes, “These are going to continue and we're excited about those.” You don’t say? (Patch.com, 11/17/20) Meanwhile, two pod-like support centers in Montgomery County, both providing in-person services for students with emotional disturbance and/or multiple disabilities—this week announced rather sudden extended closures through mid-January. They cite a surge in the number of staffers having to quarantine at home—creating a shortage—for the decision. They estimate their more than 260 students will lose (more on that term in a minute) 19 days of learning due to the scheduling change, but these are now planned to be made up in June. Says ESC superintendent Shannon Cox: “We want to make sure we give them a full year of those services in the best manner…” (as an aside, I assume they are also required to do that by law and by their funding) “…and that’s coming back in January and hoping that January through June is not as disrupted as it is currently….” Families, she said, can “just take care of family needs now, and .” That was just the first shoe to drop, however. Read on! (Dayton Daily News, 11/16/20)
- We’ve also been talking about Covid-influenced bus driver shortages for a while now, and the knock-on effects are apparently growing. This Dispatch piece on the topic covers a lot of ground. It notes that such shortages predate the rona and are endemic to many areas across the country. It also makes sure to note the struggles of local families to adjust to constant uncertainty around busing, which is nice. But, also predating the rona (and also endemic to newspaper reporting on school transportation), the piece cannot resist pointing out that
operating in hybrid- or fully-in-person mode. 13,000 of those “other kids” are depending on you…because they have to…by law. I have heard that we are “all in this together”, but I was fairly certain some of us were on the outside looking in long before now, and nothing much about 2020 thus far has shaken my preexisting certainty. (Columbus Dispatch, 11/18/20) . This piece was just posted yesterday, but the enthusiasm for substitute teaching expressed by the superintendent of Northmont City Schools seems very August 2020 to me: “I’d say give it a try. You know, you don’t know till you go in. You’ll see just how rewarding it is.” Especially, he adds if you’re just plain old good with kids. If so, “you’ll be a good substitute teacher. The content is secondary.” (Dayton 24/7 Now, 11/17/20)
- This piece, however, just screams November 2020 as the other shoe (see above) dropped:
. This is due to an increasing number of Covid-related staff and student absences, they say, with more expected over the holidays. I have seen on Twitter recently that some folks are disdainful of the term “learning loss” (also, see above) with regard to the effect of Covid-mitigation school closures on students. Too final. Too permanent-sounding. I think we can count Dayton supe Elizabeth Lolli (and the Mongtomery County ESC supe) among that category, as she, like the ESC, is planning to add those “not-yet-lost” days to the end of the school year in June, 2021….hopefully. “We’re hoping that if we close down for this period after the holiday … that when we come back in January,” she offers, “we will be at full force and ready to go and to finish out the school year strong.” There seems to me to be a lot of hoping going on among the folks in that category. Too much hoping for me. (Dayton Daily News, 11/17/20)
- Speaking of hope, I read this piece—about a CARES Act purchase of laptops for students in the Portsmouth area—and hoped that perhaps local charter school students could partake of the largesse, even though the piece specifically named only traditional districts. As it turns out, a little birdie who knows a lot about this stuff assures me that
from this effort. Despite what that newspaper reported. Nice! (Portsmouth Daily Times, 11/17/20)
- In other news, here are a couple of pieces on the tenor Monday night’s “How hard do ADCs suck?” Zoom event. First up:
” (Vindy.com, 11/16/20) Secondly: A relative newcomer to the discussion, Youngstown-area state senator Michael Rulli. Rulli told his appreciative virtual audience, although I’d be willing to bet that he’s talking about some different “problems” than the decades-long academic suckitude which landed Youngstown City Schools under the aegis of an ADC in the first place. (WFMJ-TV, Youngstown, 11/16/20) Luckily for him, . Some people even value him, going by his participation in two important-sounding webinars happening later this week. (Mahoning Matters, 11/16/20) Meanwhile, it’s full steam ahead in Jeff Graham’s Lorain City Schools™. . Families have about a week—over the Thanksgiving holiday break—to decide whether they want to remain all-remote and to affirmatively choose that option. Talk about Black Friday options. (Elyria Chronicle, 11/18/20)
- We end today talking about money…as if we haven’t been talking about money for the last 1100 words. (Seriously, how do you guys put up with my verbal adiposity?) . While district treasurer Amy Gioffredo suggested both “right sizing” expenditures and renewing two levies as possible solutions, she did not express a preference of how to proceed. “I’m not Chicken Little,” she told the elected school board by way of explanation. “I’m not going to say the sky is falling. It's the way forecast mechanics work.” Well, if it’s just forecast mechanics, then… (Elyria Chronicle, 11/17/20) In contrast (and in what is probably the only meeting of an elected school board anywhere in America in November 2020 without a single mention of the pandemic) Benjamin Logan Local Schools was celebrating a righting of its financial ship. Said district treasurer Jennifer Sudhoff, by way of explaining the positive balance achieved after a number of years of projected deficits: , while prioritizing needs and looking for ways to reallocate resources.” But hey, what can you do about “forecast mechanics”, right? Shut up and just send money. (PeakofOhio.com, 11/16/20)
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