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.

Let’s Spend Our Edu-Virus Dollars Wisely

For most students, school will soon be back in session. Many big city districts have chosen to remain virtual for the start of the year. Some, like New York City, are insisting on going hybrid. But all can agree it is going to be an expensive school year.

Recently, Congress has debated the need for $175B or so in new federal education dollars to make whatever happens happen. But we aren’t debating how to make sure we use those dollars well.

Yes, $175B is a lot of dollars. But when we look at the long-term needs of students, is it best spent on hand sanitizer and disinfectants and plexiglass and nearly empty yellow buses, or is it better spent on teacher professional development and technology and high-speed internet?

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

We Need to Change How We Teach History

“Educators are struggling to teach enough basic history for their students to survive a trivia night. But, we are also struggling to teach our students what happened, why it happened, and what resulted because of it.”

From dear ol’ Eduflack’s latest on the XQ Institute’s blog, focusing on the need to confront the messy, complicated, and dark sides of American history as we tell the full stories to the students seeking truth

When It Comes To Reopening Schools, There Is No One Answer

President Donald Trump and EdSec Betsy DeVos want brick-and-mortar schools open for business this fall. Teachers, their unions, parents, and many others want to keep them closed, with teaching happening virtually, until their are guarantees on health, safety, and vaccines.

If we know anything, it is that a one-size-fits-all approach to schools just doesn’t work. There are too many variables, too many issues, and too many reasons why we prefer to leave education decisions to states and localities.

On the latest episode of TrumpEd on the BAM! Radio Network, we explore for topic of reopening and why we shouldn’t look to the feds for all the answers. Give it a listen here.