COVID-19 changed learning, but obstructionist politics of education remain | TheHill

COVID-19 changed learning, but obstructionist politics of education remain | TheHill

About a week after her state’s sudden COVID-19 pandemic shutdown orders sent everyone home and K-12 schools online, a friend sent me this text message: “Words I never thought I would say as a teacher, all on Zoom today: Put your shirt on; Get the lizard off your head; You have pet squirrels in your house?” If only the barriers to new, creative educational opportunities were as easy to exterminate as lizards and squirrels. Instead, during an unprecedented time of need for alternative learning structures, bureaucrats appear to be worrying more about funding and maintaining the status quo in government-run schools than allowing families to pursue temporary new education platforms. Few would argue that most public schools are designed solely for brick and mortar, in-person learning and thus have no prayer of effectively shifting gears to accommodate a shutdown of classes. Then there’s morale. Aside from logistics, a sudden transition to distance learning puts a great deal of added pressure on students, teachers and parents to keep up with education mandates. To its credit, the U.S. Department of Education sympathized with these additional strains and relaxed regulations dealing with standardized testing guidelines and other coursework requirements. This pause in oversight was a golden opportunity for families looking for creative new ways to plug the gap between traditional government-funded schools and a well-rounded education. The autonomy afforded by this pause initially paid off. In the early weeks of the COVID-19 shutdowns, some virtual charter schools and online homeschooling programs provided free curricula and ...
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