Writing that “getting ed tech wrong would be a bitter pandemic legacy, American Enterprise resident Scholar and Education Policy Studies director Rick Hess cites several examples of bad ed-tech habits that developed during the lockdown “compromising instruction and even slowing down the return to school next fall.”

*** 1. “Zoom in a room” with schools open in name only for kids, making them sit in classrooms, masked and socially distanced in front of Chromebooks, their teachers instructing them remotely from home.

*** 2. Thousands of districts are now considering 4-days weeks in the fall, the fifth set aside for cleaning, even though most kids will be vaccinated, since school systems and teachers have grown accustomed to that model. But that means losing one whole day of instruction every week—this despite ongoing pandemic learning losses.

*** 3. The growing comfort with Chromebook/iPad-based learning even in the elementary grades, and the real possibility that this explains “the slow roll on returning to school, as two-day-a-week and four-days-plus-an-asynchronous-day seemed more acceptable because of… technology.”

Hess concludes his piece by saying, “The true potential of ed-tech lies in its ability to do the routine stuff more effectively and efficiently so that educators can devote more time to the human stuff. But rather than seeking ways to use tech more humanely, schools appear headed in the opposite direction right now relying on tech in ways that threaten to suffocate the human core of the schoolhouse. It’d be a bitter irony if the big result of the COVID-inspired push to universalize access to ed-tech is the entrenchment of the pandemic’s worst, most dehumanizing classroom practices.”

And by the way, of the 8 million Miami-Dade County Public School’s 3rd graders who took the Curriculum Associate’s iReady Test, a stunning 41% came in below grade level in reading and 68% fell below grade level in math. Worse still, 22% of those kids were actually below two or more grade levels in reading and 18% were two or more grade levels below in math.

Such results in the nation’s fourth largest school district don’t bode well for the country at large and should serve as a warning of distance learning’s shortcomings, but, no. Our ed tech love affair is both unstoppable and politically well- supported. For instance, March’s huge $7 billion stimulus package to the FCC created an Emergency Connectivity Fund that will “pay for all costs associated with high-speed internet and devices for remote learning.”

Your tax dollars at work…

With thanks, Carol