Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Open schools this fall and innovate

Education can be a great equalizer for many of our youth. Missing three-plus months of school this spring is a setback. This is especially true for the young students who are challenged doing schoolwork. School closing exacerbates an already bad situation for these youth. We can possibly loose a generation in secondary school education if schools do not open on its regular schedule this August. We can also use the break the pandemic has brought to initiate changes in education to better serve all.
My concerns surrounding remote learning and challenged students have come from conversations with several teachers, a high school student, plus what I have read in the national press. The indications are that about 80% of the students regularly sign on to remote classes. The teachers reported that absent students generally were those that often underperformed at school. According to the teachers, internet access was an infrequent problem. Students absence was all about motivation. There may well be varying experiences by different educators, however, somehow, I think, the stories shared with me is a common thread throughout the state. 
A lot of kids will get through this education interruption just fine. They will conscientiously do lessons. Their parent(s) stay on top of what needs to be worked on and help with questions. In these households there is an appreciation for the value of education that is part of the family structure. Unfortunately, for a meaningful portion of our students this is not the picture, and for these youth the hands-on extra help they get when school is in session is valuable and isn’t available remotely. 
There is also an opportunity, right now, to look at how we can better serve students that are vulnerable to being left behind. Post-World War II, after another global crisis, educational reform helped create America’s middle class. 
This pandemic offers an opportunity for meaningful action. We will need the teachers union to be flexible as pathways are crafted. Teachers are highly educated white-collar professionals. Their flexibility to scheduling and other non-traditional asks should be taken in stride. And why do we continue to pay teachers solely on longevity and graduate degrees earned, versus incorporating excellence in the classroom? School boards and administrative staff need to present new ideas, resurrect old ones, with a focus on the disadvantaged. We have career and technical centers that are underutilized. Let’s make it enticing and easier for students to attend these hands-on schools. What about student mentoring programs? How about requiring all students to participate in a post-classroom activity (sports, music, drama, debate club, work, on a farm, in retail, etc.). We need leadership in education, and sound ideas for change.
It is important to design an open school strategy for this August. The societal risks we face by keeping the doors closed are far greater than those posed by the pandemic. And let’s initiate a game plan for doing better.
Fred Baser
Bristol

Share this story:

More News
Op/Ed

Guest editorial: The Leahy Law should be applied to Israel

I conceived and introduced the Leahy law in 1997 because our Latin partners, and security … (read more)

Op/Ed

Ways of Seeing: Money changed Boeing trajectory

You could say that I owe my life to Boeing. Until the advent of Amazon and Microsoft, it w … (read more)

Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Still searching for a home

I’m out here sleeping in the cold. I do work but it takes so much to save and with rising … (read more)

Share this story: