Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

This article reports about the dispute between embattled Gov. Tim Walz and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka. According to the article, “Ahead of a private meeting between the two on Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz’s office issued a stern letter admonishing the Senate Majority Leader for not taking a greater role in the state’s COVID-19 response, after repeated criticism from Republicans over the governor’s continued use of emergency powers.”

Tim Walz and the DFL own the damage done by his shutdown policies. The House DFL majority has kept Gov. Walz’s Peacetime Emergency Powers intact. They’ve voted against shutting those powers off each time a special session is called. The House DFL majority isn’t interested in declaring the emergency over. I don’t understand why they don’t.

According to KSTP 5 At Issue, the monthly reports are definitely improving. According to their reporting 12 people died as a result of COVID in March, 331 died as a result of COVID in April, with 696 dying in May (the peak), followed by 401 in June, 159 in July, followed by 217 in August. I can’t wait to hear Gov. Walz and the House DFL explain how 2 months of COVID deaths (July, August) is smaller than a single month (June). Further, I’d love hearing Gov. Walz explain how the peak was reached in May but we’re still in a crisis. BTW, my trusty calculator says that the total amount of deaths in July and August is just 54% of the deaths in May.

The first thing Republicans will do if they hold the Senate and retake the majority in the House is end Gov. Walz’s autocratic rule of the state. Further, they should vote to open indoor restaurants and change the rules on indoor seating. About 4 minutes into this video, Sen. Gazelka puts a heavy burden on Gov. Walz:

Sen. Gazelka said “I think it’s serious. I think we should take it serious but at the same time, we have to measure all these businesses closing, kids not in school. What are we gonna do about those issues as well?”

The DFL is in trouble this year. They’re running ads saying that their candidates will vote to keep your health care. What they aren’t talking about is whether they’ll vote to send kids back to school. In the suburbs, sending kids back to school is infinitely more important to voters. Further, the DFL won’t get away with saying that they’re for sending kids back to school if it can be done safely. Everyone knows it can be done safely. That line is just thrown in to protect EdMinn teachers. Private and Christian schools are open in other states. Those schools haven’t had anything resembling an outbreak so it can be done safely. Period. Full Stop.

If Gov. Walz and the DFL want to face a hord of angry voters this fall and in 2022, they should just keep doing what they’re doing. Thanks to Gov. Walz’s and the DFL’s mishandling of the COVID crisis while taking us from a surplus to a major deficit while needlessly driving family-run businesses into bankrupty, Gov. Walz and the DFL will get to face that angry mob soon.

I love reading anything written by Jason Whitlock or Clay Travis of Outkick.com. This article by Jason Whitlock is another in his series “dedicated to educating professional athletes on the real agenda and impact of the so-called Black Lives Matter movement.” In the article, Whitlock said “Earlier this week, I renamed BLM, calling it Bigots Love Marxism.”

While athletes shout “Breonna Taylor” or “I can’t breathe”, thinking that they’re making a positive change, they’re actually just getting duped. Instead of raising awareness to an issue, one of these athletes’ favorite buzzwords, they should take a bigger role in improving black lives. According to this article, there are 46 NBA players making more than $25,000,000 a year. Even after eiminating the foreign-born players, there’s still 37 players that fit into that category.

The point is that a group of these players could establish an opportunity scholarship program to get kids out of crappy government schools across the country. They could then give awards to students who used those opportunity scholarships to achieve high GPAs. Another group of players could provide scholarships to HBCUs. That would incentivize students to work hard in school. There’s no down-side in that. Another group could help start businesses in places like Baltimore, Minneapolis and St. Louis, thereby returning capitalism to blighted inner cities.

While they’re doing that, they can tackle police reform, too. If athletes are serious about that, which I think they are, they should pay a visit to Sen. Tim Scott’s office. If they did these things, they’d find President Trump and HUD Secretary Carson fighting right alongside them. They’d also send the unmistakable signal that they’re serious about transforming blighted neighborhoods into prospering neighborhoods. That type of public-private partnership could transform our cities and our economy.

This video is must-see TV for athletes:

The question is whether these athletes want the positive press or whether they want to change neighborhoods for the better.

Trying to figure out Tim Walz’s plan for reopening schools might take weeks. Figuring out whether Gov. Walz is a slave to EdMinn takes much less time. Tim Walz and the DFL essentially are indentured servants to EdMinn. They don’t dare do what’s right for the students. That’s how Gov. Walz and the DFL finished with the plan they’re currently pitching.

David Perry had been waiting for months to learn whether his two middle-­school children will be heading back to their Shoreview school in the fall.

He was still left hanging Thursday after Gov. Tim Walz announced a localized, model-driven approach to opening schools in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Decisions on whether to return to class, continue distance learning, or use some hybrid of both, will depend on the number of COVID-19 cases in a given area and a school’s ability to meet health and safety standards. School districts are expected to announce in the coming weeks one of three learning models they will use based on the formula laid out by the administration.

“I don’t feel like I know any more today about what is going to happen in September than I did yesterday, and we’ve been building up to this big announcement,” said Perry, whose son has Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. The family needs more time to plan for his education. “I don’t feel I’m any closer to understanding what’s going to happen with my kids or my work schedule,” Perry said.

Tim Walz is the anti-science governor. The DFL is his enabler. For months, child care centers have been operating safely. Despite facing the same hurdles, Tim Walz and the DFL can’t figure out how to safely return students to schools. (Perhaps we should put child care operators in charge of reopening schools. I’m only partially kidding.)

DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman said she was pleased that Walz also announced plans to pump an additional $250 million of coronavirus relief funding into classrooms as they prepare for new social distancing measures. Among them will be a requirement for those who return to the classroom to wear masks. “Our districts need additional resources to provide the high-quality education we expect while keeping Minnesotans safe,” Hortman said.

Why isn’t the DFL pushing Gov. Walz to make classrooms safe so students can return to school? Why hasn’t the DFL admitted that students aren’t at risk, that the only people who might be at risk are older teachers? Instead, Gov. Walz and the DFL put together a plan that Einstein would have difficulty deciphering.

At the start of this clip, Gov. Walz tells a whopper:

This is a localized, data-driven approach to make sure that school districts where it is physically possible to teach our students, we will do that.

The matrix put together by the Walz administration has tons of caveats in it. That’s foolish. Students, especially grade school students, don’t transmit the virus. This isn’t opinion. It’s the finding of Dr. Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution:

On Good Morning San Diego, Dr. Atlas said we are one of the only countries that is not planning to reopen our schools. “The data is clear. Whether it’s from Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Spain, the United States, Asia, all over the world, children do not have any serious disease. Children almost never transmit the disease. In fact, Switzerland is contemplating stopping even testing children because it’s irrelevant.”

Continuing, “there is not serious risk of even getting the illness. But that’s not even the point here, I want to go even further. By now, we know who is at risk. K-12 teachers in the United States, half of them are under 41 years of age, they’re not at risk. 82% are under 55-years-old, if there is a handful, which there are, teachers in the high-risk category, don’t they know how to protect themselves with their so called 6-feet spacing and mask rules? And if they’re still afraid, even if they don’t want to do that, then they can teach from home. I don’t understand why they have to lock up schools.”

The statistics point in one direction. The statistics show that students, especially younger students, aren’t transmitters of COVID. The point isn’t to wait until the virus is gone. The policy should be to mitigate as much of the risk as possible. That points to making things like plexiglass walls in classrooms standard to eliminate what little risk there is for teachers.

Finally, the CDC has spoken definitively about reopening schools. According to Paul Peterson and Scott Atlas, it’s long overdue. In their Hill op-ed, they wrote “At long last, and maybe too late, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement on ‘The Importance of Reopening Americans Schools this Fall.’ After issuing warnings about potential risks to children all spring and early summer, the CDC acknowledged what has been known throughout the world for months, that ‘COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school aged children. … So far in this pandemic, deaths of children are less than in each of the last five flu seasons.'”

Next, they wrote “That couples with the CDC’s observation that ‘for children (0-17 years), cumulative COVID-19 hospitalization rates are lower than cumulative influenza hospitalization rates during recent influenza seasons.’ Moreover, ‘the rate of infection … from students to teachers has been low.'” In other words, the things that Nancy Pelosi recently said about protecting children was Democrat fear mongering. She should be ridiculed in public endlessly.

The best way to punish Pelosi is by defeating Democrat House members this November and installing a GOP majority in the House.

Despite the CDC’s declaration, DC government schools will begin the year virtually. Democrats admit having failed the students:

Students who do not have Internet access or a computer at home will be provided with the necessary technology, the mayor’s office said. Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said D.C. had been collecting data from more than 13,000 respondents and found 44 percent of students do not have access to a device at home.

How can half of DC’s students succeed without having a device capable of connecting to the internet? That’s like saying DC has schools that don’t have running water. But I digress.

We know from research and simple common sense that these measures will seriously degrade the children’s educational experience. For one, masked teachers can hardly be effective: They will be hard to hear, difficult to understand and challenging to interpret when their facial expressions cannot be seen. For students, masks are hot, stuffy and uncomfortable, the very circumstances that compromise learning. Masking will likely adversely affect the quality of the teaching force, the people who are crucial for a child’s education.

Then there’s this:

Gov. Newsom says the damage from closed schools can be curtailed by online instruction. Virtual learning is better than no education at all, certainly. But several studies have found that students who attend virtual schools perform worse than students in brick-and-mortar schools. One study comparing the achievement of charter school students found that the consequences of attending a virtual school were “uniformly and profoundly negative.”

It’s time for politicians to stop interfering with the scientists. Scientists are trying to tell parents that opening schools is safe.

It’s apparent that St. Paul and Minneapolis teachers don’t want to return to traditional classrooms this fall. If that’s what they prefer, they should be fired. This article reports that “Twin Cities educators on Friday called on Gov. Tim Walz to delay a return to in-person instruction in the fall, saying the risks of reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic are too great.”

That’s BS according to Dr. Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Dr. Atlas had “an I-told-you-so-moment” recently during this interview:

During that “I-told-you-so-moment”, Dr. Atlas said “the children have an extremely low risk to this disease, far less than seasonal flu. Number 2, there are massive harms closing schools to the children and those are extremely important, of course, because every policy we do, we must understand the consequences of the policy itself are.”

Later, Dr. Atlas said this:

They have acknowledged that long-distance learning is a failure, that children learn much more in person, from social gatherings, dealing with conflict resolutions, working with groups, that schools provide nutrition…

These teachers just showed their true colors. The risk isn’t “too great.” The younger the student, the less the risk is that they’re a super spreader and the less risk that they’ll get the virus. That’s a verified fact. These teachers are lying. Period. Full stop.

If Gov. Walz caves to Education Minnesota, which is definitely possible, he should be thrown out of office after one term. Putting EdMinn’s wishes ahead of these students’ needs is unforgiveable. It’s quite possible because EdMinn is a subsidiary of the DFL.

This is dishonesty at its most disgusting:

The St. Paul and Minneapolis teachers unions organized a march from J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School to the governor’s residence. Walking alongside parents and students, some carried signs that read “I can’t teach from a grave” and “Exactly how many dead kids is acceptable?”

Thus far, 1 child has died in Minnesota of COVID. As for the “I can’t teach from a grave” sign, I’ll just say that the students might be better off if they didn’t have these teachers. Minnesota, in my estimation, would be far better off without Gov. Walz and the DFL majority in the House.

While testifying to the House Committee on Administration, Newt Gingrich showed that he’s still part history teacher, part patriot and part constitutionalist. It isn’t surprising to me that his list of accomplishments as Speaker is lengthy and impressive. Speaker Gingrich is still one of the most impressive intellects of our time.

During Speaker Gingrich’s testimony, Speaker Gingrich started with a lesson on the Constitution, then transitioned to a civics teacher before finishing as a school principal admonishing disobedient students. Specifically, I want to focus on Speaker Gingrich’s role of admonishing Congress.

Specifically, Speaker Gingrich called out Congress essentially for being elitists and wimps:

Our national anthem says we are “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Our Founding Fathers risked their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to defend freedom. The Civil War generation lost 630,000 Americans fighting for the Union and to end slavery. The Greatest Generation went across the planet risking its lives to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. By the way, through all these events, Congress met in person.

Now, we are told that our members of the House are too precious to risk their lives by coming to Washington.

To these members I would say: If freedom isn’t worth the risk, quit the Congress. Someone with more courage will replace you in a special election. The emotion driving the proposal for remote voting is an expression of a kind of cowardice I would never have expected to see in America.

Ms. Pelosi, like Democrat governors Whitmer, Walz, Pritzker and Inslee, likes being in total control. The thought that Democrats voted to vote from their districts isn’t surprising, though it is wimpy. Across the way on Capitol Hill, the Senate is meeting regularly and getting lots of things done. They’re confirming judges and holding Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee hearings. The Democrat House has gotten things done but only after getting dragged kicking and screaming to do their job.

We are asking children and teachers to go back to school, but House members can’t come to Washington. We are asking truckers to crisscross the country bringing us food and supplies, but their representatives have to hide in fear and vote electronically to avoid risk.

We have young men and women risking their lives all across the planet to protect freedom, but their elected leaders can’t risk being in a room with immediate access to doctors and remarkably little risk of anything bad happening.

I am embarrassed for this House that such a proposal could even get to a hearing.

Let’s be clear about something. If average citizens can function safely in a Walmart, Congresscritters should be able to figure out a way to function on Capitol Hill. The routine is simple. Wash hands frequently, stay socially distanced, cough into your shirt rather than across a room and finally, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands. If the House can’t figure that out, then we need a different Speaker and a different (GOP) majority.

Here is Speaker Gingrich’s opening statement:

Saying that Nancy Pelosi stepped in it when she said that President Trump is “messing with the health of our children” with push to open schools is understatement. That statement, according to this interview of Scott Atlas, is a whopper. In the interview, Dr. Atlas said “I think we have a different scale because that’s just completely wrong and contrary to all the science. And when I say all the science, I’m talking about signs all over the world not just in the United States but Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Australia, Asia.”

Atlas then continued to bury Ms. Pelosi with scientific information:

But I think the most important thing of all, well, the other — there’s two points that I want to make. One is that teaching is a young profession. In the United States half the teachers are 40 or less and a quarter of them are under 30. Ninety percent are under 60 in public schools.

They have almost zero risk from this and for those high risk teachers, which there are some, if they believe in masks and social distancing, don’t think they know how to do that by now, and if they’re still afraid to do their job, why can’t they teach from a distance? If they think social distancing works, teach in a class, if they think a distance learning works, teach from home.

But the problem here and this the biggest point of all, I never hear anyone talk about the harms of closing schools. The harms are against the children. Anyone who prioritizes children would open the schools. That’s just counterfactual to say that, you know, the children are not the risk or, you know, were at risk here.

If President Trump had said that schools should be kept closed, Pelosi would’ve complained that he’s against learning or something else. The part that’s most sickening is that everything is about gaining political advantage with Ms. Pelosi. Apparently, the truth is irrelevant to Ms. Pelosi. There’s still some things she does well in her Speaker duties but she isn’t the Speaker.

The Mob has given her their marching orders and she’s obediently following their orders. Axios is part of that Mob. In their article, they write:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ aggressive push to fully reopen schools this fall is “malfeasance and dereliction of duty,” accusing the Trump administration of “messing with the health of our children.”

Why it matters: Trump has demanded that schools reopen as part of his efforts to juice the economy by allowing parents to return to work, despite caution from health officials that little is known about how the virus impacts children.

Even with the coronavirus outbreak spiraling out of control in several states, Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from schools that choose not to reopen and claimed Democrats want to keep schools closed past November for political reasons.

Thank God for impartial reporting. (Just kidding.) Axios apparently can’t afford to hire a doctor to confirm whether Ms. Pelosi’s statements are true or if they’re wildly imaginative. Thankfully, FNC is able to afford someone qualified on the subject. Dr. Atlas pounds home the falsity of Ms. Pelosi’s statements in this interview:

Dr. Atlas’ logic and data is straightforward. Ms. Pelosi’s statements are disgusting, frankly. She’s a liar of similar magnitude as Adam Schiff. With ‘leadership’ like Ms. Pelosi’s, it isn’t surprising that the Democrats have such little use for the truth.

Gianno Caldwell’s op-ed shines a light on the pathway for President Trump’s re-election. In his op-ed, Caldwell, an African-American, states “President Trump and Republicans have delivered for the black community on tangible policies that have had a positive impact — something the Democrats never achieved.”

President Trump is fantastic at exciting his base voters. That’s the strongest part of his campaign game. Policywise, President Trump is excellent at delivering for African-Americans. Don’t trust me. Just ask Alice Marie Johnson. Better yet, listen to Sen. Tim Scott, (R-SC), and HUD Secretary Ben Carson. Sen. Scott and Secretary Carson worked together on the Opportunity Zones provisions in the Trump tax cuts.

The Opportunity Zones provisions transformed inner city hell holes into potential prosperous oases in virtually no time. Minority unemployment rates didn’t drop to historic lows accidentally. They happened because President Trump, Sen. Scott and Secretary Carson worked together to make something beautiful happen. Let’s remember that Carson grew up in inner-city Detroit. Saying that he was dirt poor is understatement. I don’t know where Sen. Scott grew up. I just know that he grew up dirt poor, too. President Trump didn’t grow up dirt poor but he was raised as a real estate developer. He understands what it takes to turn a run-down neighborhood into a rising middle-class neighborhood.

Each day, Tim Scott and Ben Carson should hold a press conference and ask the reporters what Joe Biden’s specific plans are for fixing minority neighborhoods. They should then cite the accomplishments that President Trump has made already, then report that they plan on working with him to expand opportunity scholarships and school choice.

Each day, Tim Scott and Ben Carson should be sent to Baltimore, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Detroit. Their day should include meeting with parents and entrepreneurs willing to invest in these neighborhoods. It should include a discussion on how these investors/developers could establish a scholarship fund with a little help from the tax code.

It should also include a conversation with parents on what their ‘ideal neighborhood’ would include. Getting investors to invest in these neighborhoods builds a trust that’s long been missing. Doesn’t that suggest that that’s what’s needed immediately?

Challenge Democrats to talk about what their plans are for revitalizing neighborhoods and building the schools of the future. The dirty little secret is that the Democrats can’t deviate from their ancient blueprint of throwing more money at a problem. That’s because the unions won’t let them change the blueprint.

Tim Scott and Ben Carson are 2 of the calmest-sounding people in government. If they can’t break through to apolitical parents, then this nation is lost. I don’t believe it’s lost. That’s why, after watching this video again, I’m more optimistic than ever:

Let’s force the Democrats to defend their record on racial policies. Republicans, unfortunately, don’t have a great record either. At least Republicans can say that they’re willing to change to make minority lives better. Democrats can’t say that.

Joe Biden insists that he’ll unite the country and heal our political divisions. I’ll believe that when he doesn’t use a teleprompter or notes and strings 3 straight coherent sentences together. It’s a myth to think that anyone can unite this nation from either political party. With Antifa, Black Lives Matter and other anarchists trying to end the US Constitution, why would anyone think that unity is possible?

I just spoke with a good friend of mine from the Twin Cities. He wanted my perspective from outstate Minnesota, which is fair because I wanted his perspective on Twin Cities things. I told him there wasn’t much of an appetite in central MN for paying for the destruction in Minneapolis because this wasn’t an act of God like a flood or tornado. This was preventable from a leadership standpoint. My friend said it isn’t clear whether the failure was Walz’s fault or Frey’s fault but that it was indisputable that there was a major failure.

Eventually, we started talking about how divided our nation is. We agreed that there’s some bumpy times ahead as the Baby Boomers get pushed aside and the next generation steps into leadership. The Boomers were known for their dealmakers. Alan Simpson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Hubert Humphrey, Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan were great dealmakers.

I told my friend that I’m certain that there are dealmakers today, though I said that the dealmakers were mostly on the GOP side. I said that that Pelosi and Schumer weren’t dealmakers. Neither is Omar or AOC. I said that it’s indisputable that Trump is a dealmaker. Specifically, I cited how Kim Kardashian reached out to the White House on criminal justice reform. Trump listened to her ideas. The next thing you know, Ivanka is part of the discussion. Before you know it, the First Step Act is getting signed into law.

Ms. Kardashian didn’t care whether Trump got a political victory. She just wanted to make life better for the Alice Johnsons of the world. That same mindset is present with Tim Scott, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy. This video shows why Tim Scott is respected amongst moderate center-left Democrats:

The last half of that interview is especially inspiring, though the entire interview is good stuff. Democrats will regret rejecting debating on Tim Scott’s JUSTICE Act. According to Sen. Scott, they’ll debate the House bill while adding amendments to the House bill. That will force Democrats to vote for each of the provisions in Sen. Scott’s bill.

That eliminates the Democrats’ ability to say that they didn’t vote for Sen. Scott’s legislation because they didn’t like this or that provision. Each amendment will be a distinct provision. It’s a straight up-or-down vote on each provision. Forcing Democrats to defend each of their votes on the various amendments puts Democrats behind the proverbial 8-ball.

Until Democrats develop a group of good faith dealmakers, their calls for unity will be mostly mythical. As a society, we need voters who emphatically insist that politicians fix problems rather than saving issues for the campaign. Here’s what’s really encouraging. My Twin Cities friend is an old-fashioned, center-left Humphrey-style liberal.

Within the course of our conversation, we figured out a path forward for fixing Twin Cities policing, education and homelessness. The key with us is that we’re both low-key activists. It isn’t difficult to get things done when your highest priority is fixing things rather than worrying about getting re-elected.

What are We Learning in a Pandemic?
By Ramblin’ Rose

Public school teachers are patting themselves on the back, at least on social media, for having met the challenge to deliver distance learning to some 56 million students. On April 15, 2020 in an opinion piece in the St. Cloud Times, Aaron Sinclair, the superintendent of the Sauk Rapids-Rice school district, lauded the efforts of all to quickly transition from the classroom to virtual learning. He acknowledged a few difficulties and then proceeded to thank all who made the rapid change and continued the learning. That was “happy talk.” That does not match the reality of the fiasco.

Admittedly, within a couple of weeks, teachers did have materials available online for students. But how many 20-minute videos can elementary students view every day? How many worksheets can be completed after each video? Children cannot just sit all day. They need to move. They have been forced to become passive receptors of the talking heads on screens. What if they have questions? Parents may have the answers but many won’t. Very few will have the content information that the teachers do.

One assumes that middle school and high school students are also assigned similar scenarios. Even good students become mesmerized and bored on a chair in front of a screen EVERY day.

Does the pre-recorded, hollow statement “Good job, class” really motivate learners to stay on task and try to do even more?

What about the parents? Were they prepared to supervise their children’s lessons? Did they want the job? How can they handle the job if they are also working from home? Parents who try to help only one child reportedly cry at the end of the day—and some during the day—out of frustration with trying to understand the required work so that they might help their child. Now imagine a parent with more than one learner at home. And how many families have opted out completely?

Parents have been forced into homeschooling and must teach lessons that have been imposed on them and their children. The results for the children and families do not reflect those listed by Mr. Sinclair.

  1. How many schools have changed many of the classes to “optional?”
  2. How many districts have already suspended the rest of the academic year—even distance learning?
  3. How many learners have abandoned their work—even the gifted ones?
  4. If the talented learners have given up, how long ago did the challenged learners quit trying?

Could not the districts empower the families to embrace learning and provide some more practical activities? Could not some of the assignments be “optional” or “supplementary” resources from which the students and parents could choose when they want some guidance from the professionals?

Why not have younger children read to their parents and parents to their children? Reading is fun and instructional. The books are chosen by children based on interest. If they have questions, the parents likely are prepared to answer them. And it’s snuggle time. During this pandemic, the bonding with family and the security found in the togetherness are essential.

Why not teach math following recipes in the kitchen or a carpentry project in the garage? Both options involve measuring, fractions, addition, subtraction, etc. in a real-world context. Again, parents and children are working together in a mutually selected activity. It’s fun; it’s less stressful than assignments that, at times, challenge even the most devoted parents. What happens when the child and parent do not agree with the answer given by the teacher? (I saw that happen. The child shrugs her shoulders; the parent shakes her head.) What was the lesson learned? Who owns the confusion?

Those younger learners could still have Zoom time—see their classmates and friends, sharing stories of the fun things they learned in the last week. Teachers could guide the conversations and relate their learning to more academic themes, if appropriate. During the week, the teacher could chat with each student alone, even quizzing them on math problems or spelling words, as well as being there to support and encourage them with real words of praise, as appropriate. The child could read to the teacher to validate continuing academic progress. The teacher would still be a person and not just a bobbing head on a screen.

For older students, could they not become Socrates, pose a question of personal interest related to the course, research it and do a virtual conference with the teacher and explain what they learned and submit a short summary about the project—the reason for it, the process followed to complete it, and share the final answer to the Socratic question? It would still involve screen time, but the control would be with the learner. Undoubtedly, more learning would occur on a self-directed project than on another video lesson followed by more worksheets. The teacher would be a mentor throughout the project and would provide academic feedback upon completion of the assignment.

During the first week of distance learning, there was an abundance of jokes about distraught parents locking their kids outside for a fire drill or in the basement for a tornado drill while they sang the praises of the public school teachers. Those jokes are almost non-existent currently; they are not humorous. They accurately reveal the frustrations that many families are experiencing with “homeschooling.”

Some public educators also expressed concern about “homeschooling” but for very different reasons. Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet and other educators expressed their fear about having parents in charge of teaching their own children. In their words, it is “important that children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.” Bartholet called parents too authoritarian. She also challenged their preparedness to teach their own children.

Parents want what is best for their children…and hopefully, the majority of public school teachers do too. Due to the pandemic, parents have restructured their professional lives in order to teach their children as mandated by state governments. And, sadly, there is an entire cult, like Bartholet, that believes that government should have control “from the womb to the tomb.”

What will PreK-12 education look like next fall? Will schools reopen? Will distance learning continue? Will more parents opt to homeschool with a curriculum that they select and truly become their children’s teacher? Will they happily return their children to classroom teachers? Do public schools fear a loss of students to homeschoolers?

And another question, right before the start of the pandemic, did not the experts plead with parents to reduce the amount of time that young children, especially, spend with devices? With the advent of whole scale distance learning, those experts are mute.

On to higher education…

On April 18th, the results of a Axios and College Reactions poll reported “… 77 percent of college students say that “distance learning is worse or much worse than in-person classes,” while 13 percent say “they would take time off from college if distance learning continues next year.”

That contradicts the push of many university administrators for classes and even entire programs to be delivered electronically. Many faculty and students have objected to those initiatives but gone unheard. Let’s hope that this poll has reached the administrators.

While the pandemic has forced the closure of schools and campuses, institutions of higher learning had already suffered great declines in enrollment numbers. How much could be related to the delivery programs, as well as the debt levels that have resulted from degrees that did not and do not lead to gainful employment?

While there is nothing wrong with “self-fulfillment/self-realization,” should not an education allow one to earn a living? For example, one student asked taxpayers to pay off her college debt–$226,000 for a degree in Greek mythology. Did she really expect to earn a living with that particular degree? For many, that interest falls more into the category of a hobby than a career.

Well, maybe that student is not alone in considering a special interest legitimate. Castleton University in Vermont, with electronically mediated instruction as the norm, is offering credit for learning to play a computer game–Dungeons and Dragons. The justification for the course is the need for people to build community. Seriously? College credit?

The Strada Education Network poll has found that 28 million students plan to abandon their postsecondary education due to the Wuhan virus. The majority of those who indicated an intention to pursue training within the next six months will not be pursuing a degree program.

The American Council on Education projects a 15% decline in postsecondary enrollment in the fall and a $45 billion decline in revenue. Numerous administrators find those projections too rosy.

Precipitous declines are also on the horizon for the Minnesota State universities this fall. For those institutions, here’s their anticipated enrollment declines by university for this fall:

  1. Bemidji – 949 FYE
  2. Mankato – 2,870 FYE
  3. Metro – 747 FYE
  4. Moorhead – 1,335 FYE
  5. Southwest– 628 FYE
  6. SCSU – 1,496 FYE
  7. Winona – 2,350 FYE

FYE is the concept of a full-year equivalent, not the number of bodies on campus rolls. This concept is used in budgeting and reflects only courses that award credits or satisfy requirements in an academic or vocational program. The FYE is determined by dividing the total student credit hours by the credit hours of a full load (30 credit hours for undergraduate and professional courses and 20 for graduate courses).

As a point of comparison, ten years ago, SCSU touted 15,096 FYE. That’s a precipitous decline. But the decline has been occurring throughout the decade. The academic year just concluded had already fallen to 9016 FYE. The projected numbers for Fall 2020 are horrific.

Who will be enrolling in the fall? Will students return if there are only online classes? Will parents opt for cheaper public institutions rather than the costly private ones? Will the lack of athletic programs discourage certain students to attend? Since students were not able to take the ACT and SAT entrance exams and schools have waived those scores, will the entering students be academically prepared for the expected rigors of higher education?

The pandemic has caused many types of losses. Will the American educational system be another victim? Or, could an enhanced model that focuses on the students be on the horizon?