American Families Plan Is Lacking, Education Wise

In looking at the American Families proposal offered by President Joe Biden last week, there is much to be happy about. Even when it comes to education, one can get excited by major investments in PreK and free community college.

And yes, there is value to extending the 13-year public education continuum to 17 years, ensuring early childhood education and post secondary to all learners.

But what message are we sending when we don’t add any additional dollars to k12? Sure, we have pumped hundreds of billions in recent months for HVAC and Covid testing and other immediate, tactical needs to reopen our classrooms. We are falling short, though, in investing in improved teaching and learning in those same classrooms.

One has to ask, for instance, if PreK is truly the secret sauce when two-thirds of fourth graders are reading at below proficient levels AND we have school districts fighting in federal courts that literacy isn’t a civil or constitutional right.

We explore this issue over at the Soul of Education on the BAM! Radio Network this week. Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/i-dont-want-to-sound-ungrateful-but-public-education-needs-more/.

Why Won’t NJ Congressional Leaders Prioritize Ed?

There once was a time when education policy could rise above identity politics and the red-blue divide. A time when, despite our differences, we could all agree that all learners – regardless of race, income, or zip code – were entitled to a high-quality public education. That time, though, seems to have passed us by.

Today, we are demanding that all public schools be fully reopened for physical instruction without addressing the hundreds of operational, logistical, instructional, and strategic questions those leading our school districts have asked. Today, we are pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into K-12 relief and support, without any real guidance to ensure those dollars are being used for little more than to pay off the past-due bills payable to Covid. And today, we are calling for trillions of new dollars to build our communities back better, but leaders in our New Jersey congressional delegation are promoting priorities that don’t even mention the words K-12 education.

From Eduflack’s latest for the NJ Education Report, asking why the Congressional Progressive Caucus fails to emphasize – or even discuss – education as part of a massive investment with the American Jobs plan.

Did We Learn? Do We Care?

The last year of public school has been an exercise on crisis learning. Yes, it made sense not to administer state tests last spring, as so many learners moved into a virtual setting for the first time. But this spring, our states, districts, schools, and educators need real data to understand the impact of our Covid year.

In the latest episode of Soul of Education on the BAM! Radio Network, dear ol’ Eduflack opines on why it was so important for the Biden Administration to declare testing will resume this spring, virus be damned.

Give it a listen here: https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/what-did-your-students-learn-this-year-how-do-we-know/

Learning from the 1776 Commission

As one of his first orders of business, President Joe Biden officially disbanded the 1776 Commission established by Donald Trump last year, killing the group days after it released its report on the founding of the United States of America.

Over at The 74 Million, dear ol’ Eduflack has an essay about the Commission’s report and what we can, and should, learn from it.

As I write:

“The American record — whether it be measured by the 402 years since 1619 or the 245 years since 1776 — is hopeful and ugly, inspiring and debilitating, a shining beacon and an unshakable dark cloud. More simply, American history is incredibly messy and contradictory; how we teach it even more so.”

The full piece is worth a read. You can find it here: https://www.the74million.org/article/riccards-the-1776-report-is-a-political-document-not-a-curriculum-but-it-has-something-to-teach-us/

Yes, America, We Are Suffering from Learning Loss

How do we make up the “lag” for special education students, struggling learners who have experienced years of growing lags that were only being addressed by IEPs and 504s that took years to win? How is the latest lag addressed as school districts suspend many of those IDEA-protected rights because of virtual school, the very rights fought for because of school district failures to address other learning losses?

How do we make up the learning “lag” for English language learners who are now isolated in a plastic bubble in the classroom or in their own kitchens at home? How do we make it up for the 14 percent of k-12 students who do not have internet access at home? Or for those who lack the hardware to join virtual classes? Or even for those who lack the motivation to study in a virtual or hybrid environment when social engagement and interaction is essential to their academic development?

From dear ol’ Eduflack’s latest for Project Forever Free (which has been reposted on New Jersey Left Behind.

The full piece can be found here: https://projectforeverfree.org/call-it-like-it-is-we-are-experiencing-learning-loss/

No, Public Education is Not Equal

A recent survey has provided yet another “duh” moment, as the majority of Americans say the know public education is “unequal” in the United States. Yes, we know not all children have access to a high-quality public education. The question we should all be asking is what we can and should do to remedy it.

I explore the topic on the BAM Radio Network.

Give it a listen at https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/are-we-really-committed-to-equal-education/

Don’t Call It a Gap Year

In dear ol’ Eduflack’s community, too many parents are willing to write off the 2020-21 school year already, wanting to dub it a gap year and pleading with parents and educators not to expect too much from our learners in such uncertain times.

Writing of the year a few weeks in is essentially educational malpractice. And it reeks of privilege. For every student who is struggling to read, for every ELL student, for every special education learner, a gap year is a lost year … and a year that will never be made up later.

We can’t, and shouldn’t, write off any school year or any school children. I explain why on the latest episode of TrumpEd over at the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here.

Yes, We Need Testing

The voices calling for a pause in student assessments are growing. And why not, what with all of the uncertainty that makes up our new hybrid/virtual/Covid school reality.

Yes, these are uncertain school times. All the more reason why we need to double down and ensure we are assessing student learning and adjusting our teaching to meet new needs.

We explore this important topic over at the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here.

The Inequity of Learning Pods

The public discussions of “learning pods” are growing by the week, as desperate families take to social media to find others to pod with and teachers begin to promote their services as a pod “facilitator” in search of a safer, easier to manage learning environment.

But is the future of public education really found in a model where families are spending, in some instances, thousands of dollars more each month to facilitate online learning in the public schools? And do we really want to say the only way hybrid education works is if parents can be prepared to spend more than their current property taxes to insert their children into learning pods?

We explore the issue on the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here.

And How Was Your Corona-Ed Spring?

Why yes, dear ol Eduflack did tell the New Jersey media that this year’s emergency virtual education was a “frustrating disaster” for special education students. When you suspend federal protections the first week in, delay IEP meetings with families for months, and put off IEP and 504 decisions until “later in the fall,” what would you call it?

You can read the full article here, as the Garden State begins to walk back the hard school reopening stance its pushed all summer.