2020 has been a rough year by virtually any metric. Education deserves a few wins after the past couple of months. If I had it my way, there would be a lot of things that schools, teachers, and students received just for enduring through such a difficult time. I obviously don’t have it my way … but here is a list of what I do if I did.
- Keep the technology and the internet
One of the only good things to come out of this situation was the proliferation of technology and internet however rudimentary it may be. My colleagues and I have written at length about the digital divide and what it would mean and more importantly what it would take to close it. It suffices to say that technology is only becoming a bigger part of our lives. Schools should reflect that.
2. Collect and learn from comprehensive data on the impact of the pandemic on academics
We need to know the short-term effects of COVID-19 disruptions on student achievement. Also, we need to know the long-term effects, but we won’t know that without studying the short-term ones first. We will return to “normal” school eventually and when we do, we cannot be flying blind about what we are up against. This will be a hard sell to school districts that were hardest hit due to fears of the data being weaponized against them. No data has to be attached to funding or punitive measures. That’s a decision that the government makes. But at the end of the day, we need to know where students stand.
3. Use games to teach
The migration of education online has forced educators to use more games from time to time. Unsurprisingly, some students have taken to this style of learning. This is another one of those positive developments that many would not have discovered absent the pandemic. Let’s keep moving in that direction.
4. Depart from partisan bickering over school choice
Because of the association with Betsy DeVos, school-choice got significantly more controversial overnight. I’m not going to argue about whether or not that’s justified (it’s not), but school choice is here and millions of students are attending those schools. We don’t have the luxury of debating the concept anymore. We need to move away from sacrificing students to prove ideological points.
5. Allocate more money to schools
You knew it was coming.
This year, almost every area of daily life was hit. Education was no exception. What is different about education is the fact that it is a window to the future. We have to work extra hard to make sure this area recovers, or it will come back to bite us later. That starts with giving schools, teachers, and students a few wins.