The Bottom Line | Page 3

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Drawing tools lying over blueprint paper
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Preparing to Reopen Schools

The American Enterprise Institute just released its Blueprint for Back to School report, recommending that state and federal leaders be prepared for another atypical school year by offering regulatory flexibility regarding seat time, graduation requirements, and procurement rules to permit schools to remain operational in unprecedented circumstances. Read More ›
Sad young Asian boy holding red ban signage
Portait of standing pouting young Asian boy holding red ban signage in yellow isolated studio background with copy space
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Elitists Want to Ban Homeschooling

Elizabeth Bartholet, Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law and Faculty Director of Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, is sponsoring an upcoming invitation-only summit that features a lineup of outspoken homeschool critics. The topics of discussion? Read More ›
Diamanten im Brillantschliff vor schwarzem Hintergrund mit Reflextionen
Diamanten im Brillantschliff vor schwarzem Hintergrund mit Reflextionen
Licensed from Adobe Stock

Gem Prep Charter Schools Shine in Idaho

Amidst the educational difficulties the coronavirus has spurred, one Idaho charter network has thrived. Gem Prep, a K-12 free public charter school with four on-campus locations and an online school in Idaho, is using the opportunity to adapt and fine-tune their educational model.  Gem Prep schools have only one high school at this point—the online school. The physical schools are K–8. However, Gem is planning to add a new grade each year moving forward to make all of them K–12. With the arrival of Coronavirus, Gem was prepared to shift to full-time online.  Gem’s approach is to provide educators the specific training they need to teach effectively online. Laurie Wolfe, the network’s Chief Academic Officer, comments that “we [have] trained Read More ›

Hand holding gold medal on sky background
Hand holding gold medal on sky background, The winner and successful concept

Impact Public Schools are the Gold Standard

Thanks to Jim and Fawn Spady, the creators of the Washington Charter School Resource Center (WCSRC), for highlighting the novel concept of Washington’s Impact Public Schools (IPS). The Spadys are perhaps best known for their leadership of the Seattle area’s beloved Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants. But they are also long-time, stalwart advocates of education reform. IPS operates a charter public school in Tukwilla and will open another one this fall in South King County. The school serves 280 students in grades kindergarten through second grade, comprised of 83% students of color, 67% low income, and 32% English learners. IPS effectively pivoted to distance learning in early March and are now sharing their technology and lessons learned with everyone interested — whether Read More ›

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 ›