The Bottom Line

Stressed little boy in suit throwing papers in air
Bureaucracy, exhausting paperwork. Stressed little boy in suit throwing papers in air, sitting at office, copy space
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Seattle Public Schools Bureaucracy Lets Students Down

Getting computers into the hands of students has become imperative in this time of Coronavirus school closures. Yet according to The Seattle Times, SPS delivered only 1,000 laptops to their nearly 52,000 students. By comparison, just to the south, Highline Public Schools gave out 12,000 to their 20,000 students. SPS officials mentioned that they don’t know which families are without internet or laptops. This is unacceptable. Even Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the United States, is monitoring this. Dahlia Bazzaz of The Seattle Times, writes, “In a 2019 survey of 42 districts in Washington state, many of them large, Seattle was one of six that reported that it didn’t give laptops to students of any grade level.” In one Read More ›

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Map maps american book
Photo by John-Mark Smith

Reopen Schools State by State

What’s good for one state may not be good for the next. Authority over schools rests with governors.  They should decide when schools open in their states.   For example, Alaska, having the least amount of coronavirus cases is not comparable to the hot bed of New York, even though both Alaska and New York have shut down schools for the rest of the year. On Tuesday, President Trump publicized an “Opening the Country” council, which will provide counsel regarding social distancing efforts moving forward. Participants include hundreds of leaders from business, technology, health care, agriculture, and sports.  Yet no one from education in on the council. This is a mistake.  An educational leader from each state should be included Read More ›

Cute boy is not happy at kindergarten. Harness and support for children at early age.
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Teachers’ Union Runs LA

Michael Burke of EdSource, an education information media platform in California, highlights some major problems in the new union agreement that make it abundantly clear who’s in charge of Los Angeles schools.  Specifically, the agreement allows teachers to create their own schedules, doesn’t require them to use live video for lectures, requires them to work only four hours each day, and stipulates they won’t lose any pay during the Coronavirus closure. This agreement is one sided. Initially, the district had proposed that teachers use video chat to engage with students whenever possible. The document also included that administrators be given access to this live video engagement.  In the end, neither of these pieces were included. Most troubling was a statement by Read More ›

WA connectivity
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With Schools Closed, How Will Washington Address the Connectivity Gap?

Governor Inslee announced at a press conference on April 6 that Washington State in-person schooling is closed for the rest of the year.  Commenting on the subsequent need for connectivity, Superintendent Reykdal added that “everyone needs connectivity and access,” and that “students have the right to be connected like their right to clean water.” For those schools that have experimented with online learning, this should provide an opportunity to scale up the experience.  But others may be left behind. This is an uneasy time for families. Many will be wondering how their children will be educated for the rest of the year. Surprisingly, when asked about equity, Inslee mentioned that they have made the difficult decision to get most kids Read More ›

Rural road with dramatic clouds in southern Minnesota at sundown
Rural Minnesota road with dramatic clouds at sundown
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Online School and the Possible Rural Fallout

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the country, schools are heading online to stay productive.  But rural communities with meager broadband Internet access are stuck in digital wastelands with no clear path out. The Pew Research Center reported that for 2019, 73% of American adults had a home broadband connection. But access is not evenly distributed.  While 79% of suburban and 75% of urban Americans enjoy a broadband connection, only 63% of rural Americans have broadband internet access. According to Pew, rural areas continue to be stuck far behind urban areas in broadband access: Roughly three-quarters (76%) of adults who live in rural communities say they use the internet on at least a daily basis, compared with more Read More ›

Red School House
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Schools Fundamentally Unchanged Since 1918

“All parents should be able to know what their children are learning, and for those paying attention in the coming weeks, the virus offers a chance for them to do just that.” So concludes Jonathan Butcher, senior policy analyst in the Center for Education Policy’s Institute at The Heritage Foundation in his recent essay on social distancing and parents witnessing their children’s education. Butcher’s points about parents’ need to understand what their children are learning and the opportunity afforded by this period of Coronavirus response are well taken. Tough times can spur educational innovation. Now is the time for a complete reassessment regarding how we educate—and the students have to come first. Someone once said, “If Rip Van Winkle had Read More ›

Small Brave Goldfish With Shark Fin Costume Leading Others Through Stormy Seas - Leadership Concept
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Will Education Leadership Adapt?

The Coronavirus has caused great uncertainty and change — especially in schools.  It has also given us an opportunity to pause and think about how we can improve education in America. Ryan Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Qualtrics, wrote in a recent Forbes article, “Data shows that workers are looking to their own employers and managers to lead even more than they are looking to governments and other organizations.” Unfortunately, one of key features of today’s public education system is a lack of effective leadership that can help us navigate these stormy waters. ACTE program chair Don Nielsen explains that we have an ineffective system of training, hiring, and promoting leaders within public education.  The core of the problem is Read More ›

WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY - October 11, 2018: A closeup view of a hotel property on a Monopoly board game, circa 1980s.
WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY - October 11, 2018: A closeup view of a hotel property on a Monopoly board game, circa 1980s.
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Eliminate the Education Monopoly

Laws that mandated the hiring of only certified teachers gave schools of education monopoly control over the supply of human capital entering our public schools. Like any monopoly, over time the business of certifying teachers became bureaucratized, bloated, inefficient, and ineffective. According to Program Chair, Don Nielsen, “Today, there are over 1,400 schools that are licensed to grant teacher certifications and the spectrum of quality between the best and the worst is substantial.” The state of Idaho has recognized the bureaucratized and bloated monopoly and has crafted legislation that would scale back teacher certification requirements. House Bill 599, in essence, will lessen the strangle hold of public education institutions over teacher certifications. The purpose statement of 599 explains that “the Read More ›

Close-up of hand inserting a key to the door
Close-up of hand inserting a key to the door

Equity Concerns for Education Access During COVID-19 Closures

Clearly, closing school doors can bring both positive and negative results.  The obvious positive: closing may slow the peak of the spreading virus.  However, the CDC reports that 19-year-olds and younger appear to have milder COVID-19 illness, with almost no hospitalizations or deaths reported to date in the United States in this age group. However, the fear is that they can still carry and spread the virus. On the flip side, for a large number of children, the best place for them to be is actually in school. Many parents remain working, and some children may lack access to educational materials or even meals at home.  And what is to limit children from contacting others when they’re away from school? Read More ›