Sunday, May 28, 2023

They’re Worried We’ll Realize We Can Teach Our Kids Better at Home

I could write endlessly about the pointlessness of the national network of strident public education apologists who have nothing practical to offer families struggling with homeschooling due to Covid-19, but nothing illustrates this point more than their behavior now.

On that, I give you Diane Ravitch, the iconic leader of the public education resistance. We can always rely on her for a cold take on anything resembling reform. Search her blog’s recent posts and you’ll scarcely find any sign of warm empathy for the challenges we face. No hint of calm or security. No humanity, but the same obsessive agenda that is poorly suited for this moment.

As always, she wants you to praise unionized teachers, praise “brick and mortar” bureaucratized schools, and praise the Save Our Schools parents who stand in lockstep solidarity with their sisters in the classrooms. Their goal now is to act quickly to contain the spread of public enthusiasm for remote learning, homeschooling, and family agency. 

Beware! “Ed-tech industry is zooming in to search for profits,” Ravitch warns.

Real parents are taking ” to Twitter to express their admiration for teachers.” 

These parents are wondering “How do teachers do this all day with 30 children?”

Because class size is the first thing you think of when damn near every school in America is closing.

Further, we’re warned to be careful with all that internet learning stuff. There are just so many problems with online education. Kids aren’t socialized, parents can’t work, and not everyone has broadband internet.

Be afraid, people.

This defensive posture is captured in this Tweet from educator Arthur Camins:

Friends, is it petty for me to point out that Camins’ Tweet tags a group of nine people who couldn’t be less representative of democratic public education in a pluralistic society? 

Here’s my question for those rushing to criticize the only educational tools and helpers parents have now that the government has complete failed us: if online learning, homeschooling, and parental control of children is so bad, why is there such a desperate need to overstate it?

If traditional systems are so great, why do their supporters need to campaign constantly for us to understand just how great they are?

She – and they – doth protest too much.

The reality of “social distance” is landing now. We’re hunkered down in our homes and our families are scrambling to continue our kids learning as best we can. We didn’t plan for this and it’s a lot of unexpected work. Our anxiety is high, even among the parents you would assume are best positioned to survive the mass closing of schools.

We need help and to help each other. We need to exchange information, tools, resources, and expertise.

As a parent who suddenly has three kids at home I can attest to the fact that it’s getting real in these streets. Like many parents, I’m saturated with hyperlinks to sites that may or may not fit my kids’ needs. I’m getting foggy from assessing the value of each program, but I know it’s my responsibility to provide for my little ones.

It’s other parents, not my local public school teachers, who are offering help to each other across lines of class, race, and personal politics. 

Not to discount teachers because they too have been going out of their way to make sense of the crazy position they’ve been put in. They are working long hours, rushing to put together packets, undergoing slapdash professional development to meet the new challenges, and balancing all of that with the needs of their own families. From what I can see, many of them are scrambling to figure out how to succeed like the rest of us. 

School districts are also doing what they can by providing learning materials, meals, and special services. But the structures of schooling have collapsed. We’re untethered for now. There is very little net. 

I get the fear of public school boosters. So much of what they want us to believe could be proven wrong as we explore other schooling options. 

Their constant criticism of technology, online learning, homeschooling, parent agency, and school choice will be challenged as more of us are forced to take on the daily responsibility for what and how our kids learn. The unmistakable fact is that a significant reason we are in this position is because our democratically elected leaders, and the government they lead, bungled responses to one of the most dire challenges in the history of the country.

And, this is the government Ravitch and her Branch Ravitchians want us to believe is best situated to totally control the intellectual development of our kids. I agree with them that the day public schools resume their operations many parents will be there waiting, especially those who have been well served. But not everyone has.

To that point, I appreciate Dr. Teresa Sanders’ response to Camins’ Tweet: 

This piece first ran in its original version here at Citizen Ed.

Chris Stewart
Chris Stewart is the Chief Executive Officer of brightbeam. He is a lifelong activist and 20-year supporter of nonprofit and education-related causes.


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