Education continues to be one of the most controversial topics in these great United States of America. Even while most of the attention has been on “saving the democracy” of our nation from domestic terrorism – no one can deny the fact that schools, teachers, children and families were at the core of major discussions during the global pandemic. The 2020-2021 school year a string of challenges that compounded the already strained education system.
Teachers were once again feeling as though their health and safety was second to government leadership threats to withhold education funding to states. Imagine walk-throughs and formal observations that rated teachers on how well they can make their global pandemic teaching measure up to pre-pandemic teaching and learning while telling little people to put their masks (while coughing and sneezing into them) back up all day??
Schools had to reopen under duress and many have closed and opened repeatedly which caused mounting feelings of stress and frustration in communities, particularly where lack of resources and employment were available.
Children and families dealt with evictions, overcrowded homes and then were told that their child would be removed from virtual classes if they did not turn on their cameras. Administrators actually had meetings to reiterate the absolute intolerance for teachers not enforcing this rule. That in itself was a national disaster, in my opinion. Never mind there were additional family members sharing spacing which caused some work spaces to be unfit for the camera. This caused many children to discontinue logging in and attendance went straight to hell. From there it got worse, parents were reported to child welfare agencies due to non-attendance.
Then, in the middle of all of the uncertainty and overall unstable learning environments for the 2020-2021 school year, the audacity to hold all children responsible for the full year’s content and ability to pass a State Standardized Test! Yes, that includes the low performing and disadvantaged learners.
Final Thought: There was nothing customary or standard about the 2020-2021 School Year. Therefore, there should not be anything customary or standard for the way teachers, parents, or students are evaluated this school year. I did not think twice about going back when the time came to return to campus. I did not have any major concerns about contracting the virus. My 8th grader, on the other hand, did not feel comfortable so her father and I allowed to attend virtually. However, there were tens of thousands of teachers ( in the counties were I live and teach) who did have concerns and parents as well concerned for the children. Their concerns and decisions should be respected with immediate, temporary legislative modifications.