A June 10, USA Today Snapshot survey on “What Teens Want for Post-Pandemic School” found that:
- 65% want “completely in person”
- 18% want “online/in-person mix”
- 9% want “completely online”
- 7% were “unsure”
- 1% had no answer
That same week, Education Week published “Using Virtual Teachers to Fill Vacancies: Smart Solution or Big Mistake?” highlighting Proximity Learning and Elevate K12, “two fast-growing, for-profit companies that live-stream teachers into classrooms nationwide.”
The pitch: “A simple solution to equity-related problems caused by the teacher shortage crisis” with “high-quality instruction available to all students irrespective of where they live, bringing equality to education.”
You buying that?
Doesn’t look like it’s what 65% of the those surveyed teens had in mind, though it seems to reflect the new look and feel of K-12 education nowadays. Some see it as the all-around perfect solution and a low cost one, at that.
Not, however, former teacher and current director of Columbia University’s National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education Samuel Abrams who says these organizations have “good marketing” but “are not necessarily good for students.”
He goes on to say that they are “a symptom… of a diseased school system that doesn’t pay teachers fairly, that doesn’t improve their working conditions.”
Those include the countless non-subject matter add-ons, ongoing, often negative media messaging, government edicts, and the political football that is now public K-12 education.
Then there’s the issue of safety…
No wonder you’ve got teachers fleeing, ed-tech waiting in the wings.
Signing on to such companies means less income, but for many educators the pay cut is well worth it: No more bus and/or lunch duty, in-service meetings, faculty meetings, parent-teacher conferences, after-school activities, covering for absentee colleagues, and on and on.
And no more discipline issues.
Says former teacher and principal and current head of Proximity’s human resources department John Rollack, “The more you pile on a teacher outside of their classroom, the more he or she becomes frustrated, and they burn out and decide to leave.”
And go virtual.
However, former Chicago public school teacher Joseph Liang shares a concern held by many kids, parents, and educators, too. As he put it, “You need personal engagement with a teacher. We’ve known that forever, since the days of Socrates.”
But is anybody listening?
After all, we’ve already given up everything from in-person dining and shopping to socializing. Nowadays we even notify friends/relatives about a death via social media instead of making a call. Is this simply the next step?
~ With thanks, Carol
Of note: Seems the kids are fleeing, too. Writes Shawn Hubler in the May 17 issue of The New York Times: “All together, America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020, according to a recently published national survey. State enrollment figures show no sign of a rebound to the previous national levels any time soon.”
She goes on to explain that in states like Florida which renounced remote instruction early on, “enrollment has not only rebounded, but remains robust” and that “the National Association of Independent Schools and the National Catholic Educational Association have reported increases that total about 73,000 K-12 students during the past two years.”