Remote learning for public school students hasn’t quite been the success that parents were hoping for.
As of last week in Seattle, the majority of students hadn’t even begun their coursework yet.
School started in Seattle on Sept. 4, with officials calling the first week of classes “Strong Start” days.
“September 4–11 will be considered ‘Strong Start’ days for fall of 2020,” according to the Seattle Public Schools website. “These first days of school will ensure a strong foundation for the rest of the year. In agreement with Seattle Education Association all educators will focus on supporting students’ social and emotional well-being, culturally responsive community building, family connections, and making sure students know how to use their technology tools to access learning.”
But of the roughly 55,000 students who are registered in the Seattle Public School system, only 25,000 logged in to their computer systems in the first week of classes, KING-TV reported Friday, citing school district spokesman Tim Robinson.
District officials have been unable to identify what exactly the issue is.
A district spokesperson told KING-TV that officials are currently trying to figure out whether this was due to connectivity issues or some other set of problems.
On Aug. 12, the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors voted unanimously in favor of starting the academic school year with remote learning.
Schools across the country have utilized similar remote learning systems.
But a June report by the Center for Reinventing Public Education found that the majority of public school districts had failed to provide meaningful education to students remotely.
The data in the report was collected from a sample of 477 school districts, “sampled and weighted to reflect a representative cross-section of school districts across the U.S.”
According to the report, only 42 percent of districts “expect[ed] teachers to collect student work, grade it, and include it in final course grades for at least some students.”
The analysis showed that remote schooling hurt rural school districts much more than urban ones, presumably because internet infrastructure is lagging behind in rural areas.
This system also advantages affluent districts over those with high levels of poverty. The most affluent 25 percent of school districts sampled, according to the June report, were “twice as likely to expect real-time teaching.”
It appears that many parents are getting fed up with the public school system and the entire concept of “remote learning.” Instead, droves of parents are turning to more traditional, homeschooling methods.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that parents’ satisfaction with their children’s education has been plummeting since the many changes that were implemented in response to the current health crisis.
Although last year’s level of parent satisfaction was at a 20-year-high of 82 percent, that figure has dropped 10 points this year, leaving only 72 percent of parents still satisfied with their child’s education.
Along with that drop comes a 5-point increase (from 5 percent to 10 percent) of parents declaring their intentions to homeschool their children this year and a 3-point increase (2 percent to 5 percent) of parents planning to send their children to a charter school.
Some leaders are working to solve the problems posed by remote learning by trying to give parents the power to choose what education is best for their children.
Republican Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina, co-chair of the Congressional School Choice Caucus, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chair of the Senate Education Committee, introduced the School Choice Now Act in July.
The bill is meant to provide parents with direct monetary aid so they can choose the best possible education rather than allowing their children to be remanded to the public school in the district they reside in.
“Growing up in a single-parent household in a distressed neighborhood, I fully understand what it means to be overlooked and underserved. As a supporter of School Choice legislation, I am a firm believer that a child’s zip code should not dictate his or her access to quality education nor define the child’s future,” Scott said in a statement.
“We must ensure that all children have access to the necessary resources and opportunities — education included — to live a successful life. I’m thankful for the support of Chairman Alexander and hope that my colleagues will support our nation’s most vulnerable youth by passing this legislation.”
“Children in all K-12 schools, public and private, have been affected by COVID-19,” Alexander added.
“Many schools are choosing not to reopen and many schools are failing to provide high-quality distance learning. The students who will suffer from this experience the most are the children from lower income families. This bill will give families more options for their children’s education at a time that school is more important than ever.”
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