Alyssa Rosenberg has a column in today’s Washington Post with the no-duh statement of the year — children bore the brunt of the pandemic. But she says that we shouldn’t waste time with a “woulda coulda” thinking. Instead, we should find ways to make children whole.
Uh, no. I do want accountability for the destruction done to American’s children. A generation of children will NEVER recover. And pundits, like Rosenberg, are responsible for this, because this is a disaster that was entirely predictable. She should have known and used her massive platform to advocate for children. But columnists and leaders didn’t acknowledge that the shutdowns were hurting children until earlier this year.
I’m not over it. These school shutdowns were very personal. My children are both still paying the price for closed schools. Watching his professors’ droning YouTube lectures and struggling to get them to answer emails, my college kid didn’t finish college on time; he is upstairs doing another miserable online class right now. Between 1-1/2 years of social isolation and this past year in a new, understaffed transition program, my smart autistic kid experienced a serious regression in social skills.
2 thoughts on “What We Owe Kids: Everything”
This is feeling more and more like a problem which is just too big to solve (while continuing to be too important to ignore).
Here in NZ we have massive ‘truancy’ issues. I’ve used the quotes because this is (mostly) not kids wagging off school – at least in the primary years – but parent who just can’t be bothered to send them.
And a long-term decline in educational achievement – which has been exacerbated by the Covid Lockdowns.
The answers to these issues are hard. And likely to be heavily opposed by the various interest groups.
But, I’d list:
* Tying benefits to school attendance (your kids aren’t in school, you get less money). This will absolutely shift a big chunk of the ‘non-attenders’ back into school.
* Home-schooling is OK. But needs to be actively monitored by the Education Dept. A heck of a lot of those kids being ‘homeschooled’ because of the Covid pandemic – actually aren’t learning anything. Social interaction needs to be a part of the education package.
* Getting tough on kids and parents who are frequently absent. Calling in police or social services to uplift the kids, if necessary. Our law says that kids are required to be in class until the age of 16. It’s just not enforced.
* Changing the education strategy to prioritize the basics. No, kids don’t need sports and (in NZ, at least, woke education on the importance of indigenous peoples), if they can’t read, write and do basic arithmetic.
* Dumping the ‘whole language’ or ‘balanced’ approach to reading, and returning to phonics. It works. Forget the educational pedagogy.
* Tying teacher pay to educational outcomes of their students. Those who have an average improvement at the expected rate, get the average. Inspirational teachers who have classes which improve above the average, get a premium salary. Those who’s kids fail – get salary cut.
* Offering real, wrap-around services to kids who are not succeeding educationally. Figuring out what the problem is, and teaching to resolve it. This is the key area to invest in. And teachers absolutely need to be accountable for the outcomes – if the kids haven’t learned, the teacher has failed.
*Teachers need to be doing training, planning, etc. during the school holidays. They get (in NZ) at least 12 weeks of paid leave a year. Schools should never be closed for teacher-only or training days.
* Testing. If you’re not testing then you actually have no idea over whether the kids are learning or not. The ‘trust the teacher’ approach has demonstrably failed.
* At high-school level – move some kids directly into an apprenticeship scheme early. When we have teens stacking supermarket shelves on the night shift, and then coming to school to try to study – the standard academic approach has failed. Those kids would be much better served being in a building or plumbing apprenticeship (being paid) – with block education sections – than struggling through an academic programme, which is pretty much destined to fail. Note: this doesn’t preclude a later academic career – we have plenty of examples of kids doing an apprenticeship as a teen – only to get the learning spark in their 20s and going on to further education and training.
Yes, all excellent suggestions. Some, like the reading/phonics plan, is slowly happening here. But there is just so much to do. And parents are part of the problem, too.
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