Saturday, December 5, 2020

Remote Education Fails

By now, everyone knows that the children pay the price. At issue is the new trend in remote learning. By now the results are in and they demonstrate clearly that remote internet-based classrooms do not work. They fail students and cause children to fail. They damage cognitive development and produce emotional distress.

In New York City, the fault lies with the teachers’ unions and our inept mayor Bill de Blasio. In other cities, especially in those districts where liberals and progressives run the educational system, the fault lies with teachers’ unions and local leftist bureaucrats. If any aspect of American life is true blue, it is the educational system.

One understands that no one will hold these politicians and administrators to account for destroying children’s minds and souls, but someone ought to mention the fact that this represents a massive governmental failure.

Over the last two days the Washington Post has published two articles about the problem. 

In one Helaine Olen reports the extent of the failure:

In Houston, the number of students with failing grades is exploding. In St. Paul, Minn., a high school student is almost as likely to be on track to fail a class as pass it. In the junior high and high schools of Fairfax County — one of the wealthiest counties in the United States — 1 out of 10 students flunked at least two classes, and the number was almost double that for those with disabilities. Enrollment is falling in closed school districts from coast to coast and many points in between. Some children are exiting for private schools, or private pods. Others are simply MIA.

In the vast majority of cases, remote learning is a poor substitute for in-person education — no matter what efforts are made, no matter how many teacher trainings are offered.

As for why this should be the case, any parent of young children can tell you:

Small children, as it turns out, will not sit in front of a computer to listen to a teacher or complete an assignment without supervision. That means millions of parents — for the most part, moms — got conscripted as unpaid teacher’s assistants. And while older children don’t need parents next to them in order to do their work, they often won’t do it regardless.

We did not need a pandemic to learn these facts. Research firms have been studying the impact of online charter schools for years now. The results are uniformly bad:

Despite the proclamations of Silicon Valley that tech would revolutionize and improve education, the opposite reality has been apparent for years. A 2015 study of online charter schools by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, determined that students did better in math and reading when attending in-person schools, and concluded, “academic benefits from online charter schools are currently the exception rather than the rule.” One of the study’s authors, in a call with reporters, said the math results were so dismal it appeared as if “the student did not go to school for the entire year.”

And then, Donna St. George also reports the results in another Washington Post article. She begins with what she calls vulnerable students in a large Maryland school system. Note the numbers-- a sixfold increase in failure:

Failure rates in math and English jumped as much as sixfold for some of the most vulnerable students in Maryland’s largest school system, according to data released as the pandemic’s toll becomes increasingly visible in schools across the country.

In but one stark example, more than 36 percent of ninth-graders from low-income families failed the first marking period in English. That compares with less than 6 percent last year, when the same students took English in eighth grade.

Obviously, in these minority run school districts the children who are suffering the most are minority children. Duh.

In Montgomery, a diverse system of more than 161,000 students, among the most severely affected groups were Black and Hispanic students from families at or near the poverty line and English language learners.

Nearly 45 percent of those with limited English proficiency failed the first marking period in ninth-grade math, for instance — a stunning figure given that only 8 percent of the same students failed math in the first marking period last fall.

The data is a grim and vivid reflection of the struggle many students face with remote instruction. Some find the volume of independent work or screen time overwhelming. Some are trying to manage child-care duties, technology glitches, family difficulties or jobs.

Minority students, especially Hispanic students from low income families are doing the worst. White and Asian students are doing the best:

For sixth-graders taking math, Hispanic students from low-income families fared worst, with last year’s failure rate of 4 percent soaring to nearly 24 percent this fall.

Least affected among sixth-graders in math was a category that included White and Asian students from families not identified as low-income. Last year, less than 1 percent of that group failed the first marking period, and this year it was slightly more than 1 percent.

So, the great enemies of white privilege have devised a method to damage minority children while doing no significant harm to those who suffer from white privilege-- that would be white and Asian children.


trigger warning said...

Frankly, I'm not sure it makes a great deal of difference for minority students. From 2017:
"Of Baltimore City’s 39 High Schools, 13 had zero students proficient in math. Digging further, we found [....] in half the high schools in Baltimore City, 3804 students took the state test, 14 [0.004%] were proficient in math."
--- FoxBaltimore

More recently:
“'The unions have made it pretty clear that they do not want teachers back in school buildings until they’re 100 percent sure they’re safe,' said Katharine Strunk, a professor at Michigan State University who studies education labor markets."
--- Education Week, 12/2/20

100%. That means never.

Homeschooling or nonunion charter schools are the only - the only - solutions.

Mark In Mayenne said...

I have tried many forms of learning in my life and there is no doubt in my mind that I learn new material faster and more completely if I have a tutor alongside to guide and to "unstick" me. There is value in working solutions out for oneself when stuck, but too long at it leads to boredom and frustration.