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Utah Education Association demands schools be online-only this fall

The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that “The largest teachers union in the state is calling on Gov. Gary Herbert to keep Utah schools closed this fall — saying it’s too dangerous for educators and students to return while cases of the coronavirus remain high.”

The union wants schools to start ONLINE-only in August. My bias is that I am planning on returning my children to in-person school in the fall. My reasoning is that:

  • My wife and I both work, which makes remote-learning difficult.
  • The research also shows that young children (we are in elementary school) are less likely to spread the virus and therefore they aren’t the petri-dishes we assume they are.
  • I don’t believe that I educate my child as well as a professional teacher does.
  • I don’t believe that our teachers have enough training and/or direction to ensure remote-learning is as effective as in-person learning.

Those are my reasons.

Don’t get me wrong, i understand that some families have decided on remote schooling. That’s understandable. I also understand that teachers are scared. I’m scared for my kids. I’m scared for their teachers. I’m scared for my kids’ grandparents who are the most impacted. This is serious.

Yet, I feel like the subject keeps being treated as a blip versus the new normal. Nothing will fundamentally change by Christmas in the Corona-world. Even if they find a novel vaccine to the novel Corona virus it won’t be widely distributed. So, if we do remote school-only in August it is really remote-school throughout the year. It’s a long year.

So, if the UEA pushes this and forces remote schools, that’s OK. I get it, teachers have decided that’s the way they want to roll. I’m Ok with that and our family will adjust. However, along with agreement, comes high expectations.

If remote-school is demanded by the teachers, then they have to deliver. Education had better be better than ever. I better be able to plop little Bobby down in front of his iPad for six hours a day and learn just as much as he would have during in-person school. I’m not the teacher, the real teacher is the teacher. That’s my expectation.

That’s frankly the challenge.

Comments

6 Comments

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PC Teacher

So, I think you’re missing an important piece. Yes the existence of this virus is the “new normal” but the state of our society is a political choice. The suffering is a political choice. IF spread were under control, as it is right now in most wealthy countries (and many less wealthy but more politically functional countries) THEN we could have your children come back to school safely. Unfortunately, that is not our reality, currently. If regular people and elected officials value having children physically in school, they need to make different political choices that will bring our situation more in line with nations that have opened schools. That has to be the “new normal,” a political environment and social welfare system that looks more like NZ or Japan or the EU, not just a fatalistic acquiesce to widespread illness and suffering. Like so much that gets heaped on teachers, this isn’t a school problem. This is a government problem. And if you want schools open, you need to petition the government for pretty drastic policy changes that will create an environment in which it is possible to open schools safely.

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Parkrag

PC Teacher-

Unfortunately, we aren’t going to change the politics of it. We probably aren’t going to change the culture of our education, either. Outside a few very competitive students, we are never going to value education as much as they do in places like South Korea. Changes to both politics and culture are worthy long-term goals; however, change won’t be accomplished this year.

The point of what I wrote is that I am someone who is planning on sending my kids to school in-person. I believe they will get a better education that way (they are elementary school kids). If most teachers don’t want to teach in-person, and the UEA forces that, then OK, I will deal with that. However, my expectation is that remote-education will be on par with in-person education. My expectation is that I won’t be the teacher; the teachers will be the teacher. My expectation is that my children will exit this school year with the same level of knowledge that they would have had if the school was in-person.

I also expect that school will be good for kids less fortunate than my children. DLI better be top-notch. Resources had better be in place to ensure all kids have the opportunity for quality education.

The entire experience will need to be far better than spring. This doesn’t just fall on teachers, it also falls on parents, administrators, and the school district. However, if the UEA is pushing for remote schools, I hope their members understand the ramifications of that decision.

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Stand and Deliver

I am a PC teacher, and I really respect your position here. We need to keep our community safe and opening schools with very little data is a huge risk, one that I am not willing to take with my family or yours. As teachers, one cannot expect us to put ourselves in harms way to support an ill-conceived and criminal response to the pandemic. We have been pressed to take a stand here.

But, you are exactly right that we need to do a better job of teaching online as that is the only safe option for the time being. I love my students and work tirelessly to help them find themselves through the lens of our academic content. In spring I worked exceptionally hard to keep it real for the kids, and I am committed (because it is my life’s mission to do so) now and in the future. I know my colleagues, and we will continue to rise to the occasion.

Teachers and parents must be partners in teaching our kids, we are not a daycare and the success of our entire society let alone our own children depends upon this partnership.

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Parkrag

I couldn’t agree with this comment more. We are all in this together.

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PC Teacher

Park Rag,

Respectfully, I disagree with the fatalism regarding the politics, although I definitely understand where it comes from. Yes, political change is hard but it happens when enough people get fed up with the right institutions. Think about this: if we all truly made school (and by extension work, I don’t truck with the “school is not daycare” crowd) contingent on meeting public health metrics like declining case counts and positive test rates, those outcomes would happen. Elected leaders would be forced to put those policies in place. Instead, the people in charge are handing that burden to teachers and other working people, like yourself. Despite everyone’s best efforts, you might be dissatisfied with the quality of instruction this year, whether it’s in person or online. But teachers and UEA are not the most productive target for your frustrations. The governor’s office, the legislature, and the federal government are where you should direct those feelings. We are all victims of government failure and we can’t let ourselves get distracted from that or discouraged. I’m with you and your family.

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PC ESP

And what about everyone else that works,cares and is passionate about the district and it’s students? I’m talking about the ‘classified’ Educational Support Professionals out there. What happens to our jobs if remote learning becomes the standard? A very large group of individuals that care just as much as teachers. We tend to be forgotten in the mix.


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