In a recent article an administrator said, “We are not doing remote learning because not every kid has a laptop and internet access. It’s about equity.”
So let me try to understand this. During the regular school year, when teachers took attendance and some students were marked absent, school shut down and sent all of the other students home? Of course not. Attendance issues were addressed and teaching and learning proceeded.
With the Covid-19 pandemic the excuses are getting thinner and thinner. Every school has students that are unable to meet certain expectations and for a myriad of reasons. Students with a challenging home-life faced such challenges prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. They struggled with food insecurity, no internet access and busy parents prior to the pandemic.
As educators, we didn’t accept this as a reason to cancel learning opportunities then, and we don’t accept it now. Are your students failing to log on to remote learning classes? What did you do about chronic absenteeism when the school building was open?
Why we should not accept excuses
There are four reasons why we should not accept excuses when it comes to distance learning for our students:
1.) Internet providers have already committed to free internet access options.
On March 13, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission launched the Keep Americans Connected Pledge ensure connectivity during the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 650 companies have taken the pledge. Companies like Comcast / Xfinity, AT&T Internet, Charter Spectrum, Frontier Communications, Verizon, CenturyLink, Cox Internet, Altice / Optimum, Viasat, and Mediacom have offered temporary free and subsequent low cost Internet access.
2.) Google and others have already committed to providing state of the art virtual learning tools including secure video conferencing, Google classroom and other free teaching & learning tools.
3.) The federal government has already given school districts the authority to re-purpose title funding to support distance learning. That means there are now funds to purchase WiFi laptops and adequate professional development for teachers to effectively use the tools for continued instruction
4.) The “prime directive” is teaching and learning.
School districts have done a remarkable job addressing food insecurity during this pandemic. They restructured resources, mobilized and execute daily with consistency and precision. They have created drive-through pickup, and for families who can’t pick up, they deliver the food. They don’t concern themselves with the reasons, only the outcomes.
Student nutrition, however, is only one arm of the school district’s responsibility. The prime directive is teaching and learning. K-12 schools exist as an entity for the primary purpose of directing and supporting student learning. Is the prime directive really the piece we want to put on hold until conditions improve?
- Print out the new ESEA modifications.
- Contact your local internet provider.
- Purchase new devices.
- Find an expert to adequately train your teachers.
- Stop making and accepting excuses.