Continuous learning, hybrid learning, and blended learning are terms utilized in defining teachers’ return to school by March 15. Online learning occurred between the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and this period where teachers are required to return to school, to their designated classrooms. However, students are granted the option to participate in remote learning.
The opinions regarding the return to classrooms proposals vary, with some vehemently opposing it. For instance, teachers disagree with each other, citing the overplaying their hand in letting students suffer through distance learning. There are also lingering questions concerning teachers’ silence over time, with reasons such as a fear of retaliation and isolation being cited. Teachers point to the fear of their contracts not being renewed and the subsequent “blow back” from not engaging in group think. In my opinion, this is quite unbelievable because this is a free world. Teachers should be heard, and after this, a return-to-work framework that favors them should be put in place.
Those supporting returning to classrooms, especially parents, argue that the right to accessing proper education was violated through remote education. Furthermore, individual learning strategies were not adequately addressed, resulting in the plans becoming ineffective over time. This resulted in substantial learning disparities between students. My opinion, based on the above, is that the option of remote learning should not be granted to students since the learning plans may not work.
In conclusion, I concur that teaching is a calling. Therefore, the debate concerning returning to classrooms should involve heavy consultation with teachers to formulate an appropriate return-to-work strategy. This will require cooperation from teachers and parents, and will be vital through the start of the healing process. However, I oppose the idea that those viewing the task as hard should quit their jobs because we need everyone’s input for an adequate return to class strategy. Therefore, instead of them quitting, they should offer ideas to facilitate learning in a post-Covid world.
Catherine Barrett is an Arizona Governor’s Master Teacher and currently Chair of citizens initiative petition, A Classroom Code of Ethics For Public Schools K-12. You can find her on Twitter @ReadersLeadPD, and on Facebook at Yes4Ethics
Reading, writing, arithmetic…these aren’t controversial topics, and neither should be the education of our children. Kids are supposed to go to school to learn life skills and become productive members of society. This isn’t complicated. And yet, schools are increasingly becoming the primary tool of a radical agenda to indoctrinate children in leftist ideology.
Take the 1619 Project for example. Various schools across the country have adopted a history curriculum centered on this series of essays from The New York Times,which claims that the United States was actually founded on slavery in the year 1619.
But the radicalization doesn’t stop there.
A school district policy in Madison, Wisconsin not only helps children adopt transgender identities, but it instructs teachers to lie about it to parents.
And right here in Peoria, Arizona, parents are dealing with similar frustrations after district officials denied them access to review learning materials that appear to be based on the principles of the Black Lives Matter organization.
In a year that’s already been challenging enough for parents as they’ve navigated through COVID, online learning, “sick outs,” and more, you would think that school districts would seek to build trust with them.
But apparently some public schools are too committed to their agenda.
Thankfully, the Arizona Senate is seeking to create more transparency through SB1058. This bill, which has now been transmitted to the House, requires district and charter schools to post a list of procedures used to review and approve learning materials on a prominent portion of their websites. In addition, they would also have to post procedures by which a parent can review learning materials in advance.
But what about district and charter schools that do not have such procedures? They would have to clearly state this on their websites.
While Arizona law currently allows for parents to review learning materials, the process hasn’t always been easy. And many parents have grown frustrated by officials who block access to curriculum.
But SB1058 would allow for more transparency from schools without burdening the staff. This should be a win-win for everyone involved, except of course for schools that have something to hide.
After all, any school that’s currently featuring the 1619 Project as part of its history curriculum probably doesn’t want parents to know that several renowned historians have criticized it for being inaccurate and pushing a false narrative. And they also probably don’t want them to know that Nikole Hannah-Jones, the architect behind the 1619 Project, has admitted that the whole point behind it is to make an argument for slavery reparations.
But a bill like SB1058 would help bring this to light. And while more work needs to be done, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Parents have a right to know if ahistorical and fringe topics are being taught to their children. And now the House needs to pass this essential piece of legislation to give parents the transparency they deserve from the schools their children attend.
Despite the clearly expressed wishes of Arizona voters that public schools teach in English only, state lawmakers are working to undo those requirements so taxpayers will have to fund bilingual education for foreigners. Experts warned of devastation for non-native English speakers.
In 2000, voters in the state elected to enshrine English only in their government-school system through Proposition 203. Non-native English speakers were offered English immersion to bring them up to speed in the language as quickly as possible.
But now, lawmakers have passed HCR2005 and SCR2010 to repeal those measures. Instead, tax-funded government schools would establish “dual-language immersion programs” for non-native English speakers, allowing them to take classes in their native languages, too.
Immigrants, especially, expressed outrage over the plot. AZ Rapid Response Team Founder Jose Borrajero, who immigrated legally from Cuba, expressed shock and bewilderment that lawmakers would seek to introduce bi-lingual teaching in American government schools.
“It is hard for me to understand why anyone would promote teaching public-school students who are English learners using the bi-lingual method,” Borrajero said, suggesting there may be a “sinister agenda in mind” among proponents of the scheme.
In fact, his own experience as an immigrant “strongly supports” the notion that total immersion in English is necessary for foreign-born students to succeed in America. Without having been forced to study in English — and English only — Borrajero suggested his life may have been very different.
“The most important hurdle for a learner of English, or any other foreign language, is learning to think in that language,” he said, noting that being totally immersed in the language is what makes that possible. “It is absolutely, positively impossible to do that using bilingual education.”
In any case, most experts also agree that the best way to learn a foreign language in a foreign land is by total immersion in that language, he said. Failing to provide this to foreign-born, non-native speaking students will “condemn them to a lifetime of menial, low-paying jobs,” Borrajero added.
English language immersion experts are also speaking out. English teacher Johanna Haver, who taught for two decades and wrote three books on education, blasted lawmakers seeking to erase the only protection available to Arizona’s Hispanic English learners to be able to learn America’s language.
“Let’s not behave stupidly,” warned Haver, who published the book Vindicated: Closing the Hispanic Achievement Gap through English Immersion in 2018 on this very subject. She also noted that federal schemes initiated under Obama were at work behind the scenes, at the expense of students.
Former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas also blasted the effort in comments to The Newman Report. “Their ‘good intentions’ (and we all know what road THOSE pave) will relegate these non-English speaking students to second-class citizen status,” she warned.
Douglas, who now serves on the Advisory Board of Public School Exit urging parents to get their children out of government schools, warned of systemic problems, too. “If English Immersion is a failure it is only due to a system that can’t teach English Language Arts to native English speakers; never mind teaching English to non-English speaking students,” she said.
The bill to end the English immersion mandate passed the Arizona Senate overwhelmingly, with just 7 out of 16 Republicans voting against it. The only “no” vote in the House came from Representative Quang Nguyen (R-LD1) – an immigrant who learned English through immersion. If it is not stopped in either chamber on the next vote, voters will have one opportunity to stop the scheme before it takes effect.
The powerful forces behind the scenes supporting this effort do not have the well-being of foreign-born children in Arizona in mind. Instead, they have a subversive agenda to create a divided America where people do not share the same history, culture, love of liberty, or even the same language. The agenda to divide and conquer America must be stopped.
Parents, like those in the Peoria Unified School District, are praising a bill, SB1058, which requires district and charter schools to post a list of procedures used to review and approve learning materials and procedures by which a parent can review learning materials in advance.
If the district does not have procedures used to review and approve learning materials, the bill requires them to post a “clear statement that no such procedures or processes are in effect at the school.”
While the bill has been stripped of meaningful reforms, supporters say the bill is a baby step in the right direction even if it only brings much needed attention to what is going on in Arizona’s K-12 classrooms.
Last week, Peoria parents attempted to share their concerns with district officials about lesson plans that involve and appeared to be based on the principles forwarded by the political organization, Black Lives Matter.
Not only were parents not advised that students would be exposed to curriculum of a highly controversial and clearly partisan nature, they were denied access to review the learning materials.
Barto’s bill at least provides them with a clear path to curriculum review, say education experts.
This week, the Arizona Department of Education released a report showing a dramatic decrease in public school enrollments compared to last year. Public enrollment is down by approximately 38,000 students for the 2020-2021 school year compared to last year.
After a heated floor discussion on Monday, the Arizona State Senate passed Senate Bill 1452, a bill which will expand educational opportunities for children from low-income homes. The bill passed long party lines.
The bill, if passed in the Arizona State House, is expected to bring educational choice options to an estimated 700,000 low income students who are currently part of the Federal free and reduced lunch program and/or are attending Title I schools.
Earlier this month, prominent leaders from the Phoenix valley’s Black community gathered at the Arizona Capitol in support of the bill and school choice for minority children.
“School Choice is an extension of the civil rights movement because it gives parents, especially low-income and minority parents, the rights and resources to choose any school their child needs. School Choice equals freedom.” – Rev. H.K. Matthews
Democrats argued that the bill would take money away from the currently mostly closed public schools. Across the state, public schools have been forced to deny educational opportunities to students due to resistance from teachers, who are refusing to return to their classrooms.
The American Federation for Children cites data showing that low-income students are anticipated to be up to 12 months behind by the end of this current school year. SB1452 will give low-income parents resources and funds to find an in-person private school, join micro-schools, hire tutors and teachers, purchase homeschooling curriculum, and pay transportation costs.
“This extension to Arizona’s ESA program is so badly needed right now due to the COVID school closures. Thank you to Senator Paul Boyer for sponsoring this crucial legislation and thank you to the Republican caucus in the Senate for passing this bill in the best interest of low-income parents and children all over the state,” said Steve Smith, Arizona State Director for the American Federation for Children, in a press release. “But most of all, thank you to civil rights icon, Rev. H.K. Matthews for his powerful words quoted today during the senate debate, as well as minority leaders across the state. Your willingness to advocate for equality and justice on behalf of minority and low-income families is nothing short of inspiring. We look forward to working with our Arizona Representatives in the House to make every education option available to the children who need the most help right now.”
School age children and their parents are facing multiple issues and making difficult decisions as schools officials, school board members, and teachers’ unions wreak havoc with their schedules and learning environments. As a result, many students are falling behind and many parents are struggling to keep up with all of it.
It seems every week, the news is filled with headlines related to school openings, school closings, and teacher “sick outs.” Rarely do we hear from the families that are affected by the decisions reflected in the headlines.
Those families are facing the hard choice of keeping their jobs to support their families or losing their jobs to stay home and teach their children. Many parents are feeling hopeless and see themselves in a lose-lose situation, especially single parents.
Parents are also getting frustrated at the lack of consistency. While school unions claim its unsafe to return to in person school, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Fauci doesn’t agree.
“The default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the children in school or to get them back to school.” Stated the controversial but always overly cautious Fauci, “If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected.”
So why then are schools not opening? Many teachers are refusing to go back into the classroom and with the pre-existing teacher shortage already in high demand its putting school district administrators, parents and students in a rough position.
While parents are trying to be positive and agreeable, the schools are providing little support. According to Melissa, the teachers seem to be more lenient when it comes to assignment deadlines, but that is about it. outside of that. Melissa, like countless other parents, is certain her kids aren’t learning as much as they usually would if they were in school.
Katie, a single mom, had to make a very difficult choice. Without her kids in school, she would have had to pay for daycare, paying out more than she earned in the collapsing service industry.
Katie has decided on homeschooling for now, saying she felt like the pandemic was being treated as more of a political issue then a community safety issue.
According to care.com childcare cost averaged $215 a week in 2019, or $10,320 annually. Paying for a nanny is averaged $565 a week in 2019, or $27,120 annually. Creating an impossible situation for parents that need to work outside of their household.
After school programs have also been placed on hold during the pandemic making it even more stressful on parents and creating a negative effect on children’s mental health.
According to teachersforopenschools.com, “students are experiencing many increased risks: up to 14 months of learning loss; food insecurity rates have doubled from 18% to 35%; emergency department visits related to mental health have increased 24 percent for children aged 5-11 and have spike 31 percent among adolescents aged 12-17.”
Instead of the focus being on providing the best and safest education to students, schools seem comfortable leaving many unanswered questions while keeping school doors closed.