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DeVos: No more virtual schooling

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 7/07/20, 04:44 pm

Some local school districts have considered offering a mix of in-person and virtual classes in the fall because of the coronavirus. But in a call with governors on Tuesday, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said schools must be “fully operational.”

Is that possible? It could cost the average school district $1.8 million annually to outfit its buildings for in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the American Association of School Administrators and the Association of School Business Officials. But DeVos pointed to the “disaster” of distance learning attempts in Northern Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools in the spring, saying sticking with online classes just wasn’t an option. “Students across the country have already fallen behind,” she said. “We need to make sure that they catch up.”

Dig deeper: Read Laura Edghill’s report in Schooled about why it would cost so much to return to classrooms while keeping students safe.

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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. Follow Rachel on Twitter @Rachel_Lynn_A.

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    Posted: Wed, 07/08/2020 01:18 pm

    Interesting. There have been charter schools that have successfully run online/distance learning programs for decades (we considered some when we were researchsing Homeschooling in the 1980s, and some had already been around for many many years...). How is the public school system attempt to mimic that success different?

  • OldMike
    Posted: Thu, 07/09/2020 03:36 am

    Jackie, I believe the students and their families are the difference.  We have, in this country, large numbers of people who do not place great value on education, respect for authority, and so forth. Regardless of ability, kids of those families often do much poorer in school than other kids. On the other hand, families who choose to make the effort to get their kids into charter schools are obviously those who value education. Those families will see that their kids strive to achieve and learn.  

    In the city my son and his family live in, during the shutdown of the last few months of the school year, some significant differences were seen between grade schools in different neighborhoods. Some poorer neighborhoods saw a daily average of only 10-15% of the elementary kids participating in the online instruction sessions via Zoom.  In my son's fairly affluent neighborhood, participation was close to 100%. 

    When families had the option of seeing that their kids kept up with their educations through the shutdown, some did and some didn't.  I realize there are other factors, but a lack of interest in their kids' education is likely at the root.

    This is why it's important to get the schools reopened. With families compelled by law to keep their kids in school, even poorer students will get some education. With kids at home unsupervised or with parents who don't care, we will soon have a significant number of illiterate citizens. 

  •  revduke's picture
    Posted: Fri, 07/10/2020 07:34 am

    This is fantastically ironic of the Trump Administration and Ms. DeVoss and their current stance, considering what they have argued to this point. equally ironic is the position of the school lobby. Both have flipped flop in significant ways. 

    Posted: Tue, 07/14/2020 03:50 pm

    The headline is a little out of line with the content, but in many cases schools were asked to stand up virtual learning systems in a very short timeframe.  In my local school district, the shutdown was ordered over Spring Break which gave the schools less than a week to set everything up for virtual learning with minimal staffing.  Of course these attempts were a "disaster."  However, there are many great examples of sucessful virtual learning such as the Florida Virtual School.  With appropriate time, training, and support schools could retool to a hybrid/flexible method. 

    Ironically, Republicans are now wanting to dictate school policies from the federal level. Public schools are best managed from a local-government level. They always have been. The tenth amendment shows the way.

  • Joe M
    Posted: Tue, 07/14/2020 07:51 pm

    I respect DeVos, but this is ridiculous. The only urgency to reopening schools is the fact they now serve as daycare centers for a two-income houseild economy. Let's just be honest.