The rumors grow more solid and it appears that Florida’s pathetically peripatetic pandemic Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, also affectionately known as King Richard, will order an end to remote learning, thereby removing a choice from parents that many parents want.
Children will go back to their school campuses in January or Florida’s school districts will be forced to relinquish their enrollment to Florida Virtual School.
Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is not prepared for a massive influx on new students should parents be unwilling to send their children back to campus. They couldn’t handle the demand in August and many, many children and their parents went without any schooling as they waited to begin FLVS.
But those messy details of how anyone actually provides education to children has never bothered the king before and it seems it won’t stop him now.
It’s the power of the budget, an idea borrowed from the Federal Government and applied Florida-style.
School Boards are the constitutional officers who have the power to make the decisions for their school systems, including the learning options offered to parents. But they rely upon the state for funding. The state can force decisions upon school boards by tying their funding to school boards obeying state orders.
Thus, King Richard will dictate the choices that school boards can offer parents.
To be fair, he has a point. In-person learning is far superior to online learning. Teachers know that. Teachers know how long it takes to present a lesson online, how it is hard to get the necessary interaction with students that sparks the learning process, how kids don’t talk but try to do an assignment on their own no matter the hours that they have to put in … certainly, it is best for children to be in the classroom.
But then, the pandemic continues and builds to a new crescendo in its third surge. 110,000 new cases a day, far higher than the spring and summer peaks … it’s not slowing down. Schools are having to close and quarantine students and staff.
The surgical approach is not working. Go ahead and quarantine a teacher and 33% of a class for exposure to a positive case. What does the other 67% of the class do when they sit in a classroom with no teacher?
Grumpy Old Teacher’s (GOT) colleague returned from quarantine yesterday. GOT asked her how she taught her five in-person classes from home. She utilized the online platform! Because there were no student computers available, she had the students watch and listen on their phones!
It didn’t work well. This anecdote reveals that the online option will not be terminated with a state order for all students to report to campus. It will merely make school more chaotic.
Despite Corcoran’s thinking that he can order the disease to behave and put all children back on campus, Covid will have the last word.
Or parents, the parents who don’t want their children in FLVS or on the campus. They want their children’s regular teachers to deliver instruction as best as possible given the circumstances. Everyone understands that less will be accomplished, but also that these times will not last forever.
Children have a remarkable ability to make up what they missed … if they are motivated. The current school environment of standardized testing and all that entails leaves them unmotivated. But that’s a topic for another post.
Once December arrives, post-Thanksgiving and all the new infections that will occur, it is doubtful that schools can remain open under any circumstances.
Despite the Commissioner’s orders, it seems that he still has a Covid problem.