The Real Classroom Of 2020

George Floyd.

Impeachment.

COVID-19 pandemic.

Harvey Weinstein.

Withdrawal from WHO.

Double-Digit Unemployment.

Relations with Iran and China.

Shootings in Milwaukee, Baltimore, Texas, Louisiana.

The President’s Twitter Account.

Hydroxychloroquine.

Bleach and Sunlight.

Richard Burr.

Stimulus.

Almost 1.8 cases of coronavirus in US.

Over 100,000 American deaths due to coronavirus.

And this is just from today:

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And this classroom is cross-curricular: biology, language arts, civics, math, chemistry, performing arts, technology, economics, social studies, ….

 

About “Learning Gaps For Low-Income And Special Needs” Students

NPR recently published a report on the effects of distance learning on students from low-income householdsand on students with special needs.

“Four out of 10 of the poorest U.S. students are accessing remote learning as little as once a week or less, according to a new survey from ParentsTogether, an advocacy group. By contrast, for families making more than $100,000 a year, 83% of kids are doing distance learning every day, with the majority engaged over two hours a day, the survey found.

The nation’s schools shut down in-person learning in mid-March, and only a few states, including Colorado, Montana and Wyoming, have experimented with opening classroom doors since then. From the beginning, experts in distance learning warned that it can magnify inequities, with the most able and highly advantaged learners humming along while learners who need more support fall far behind.”

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Here’s a better closeup of that data bar graph.

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And what also needs to be considered is the connectivity issues that many students have in NC, especially in our rural counties.

Below is the latest available map from NC DIT of broadband internet availability.

broadband map

And consider where some of the larger cities in North Carolina are and their proximity to other “metro” areas.

Map of the State of North Carolina, USA - Nations Online Project

And before the virus even hit in a time of “economic” boom in the state there was this – a map of the economic well-being of each NC county as reported be the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

2019 County Tier Designations

 

The LIGHTER the shade of blue, the more economic “distress.”

Hard to make a case that going to distance learning has not widened to chasm of the effects of poverty and lack of resources for many in this state. And many want to make distance learning more of the norm.

And if your student is a special needs child (such as mine), just the lack of interaction and stability in routine is enough to bring about some highly negative effects.

A Note To Readers Of CAFFEINATED RAGE – Thanks And A Change

I have been fortunate to have the energy to maintain this blog and keep it as updated as possible for the last four years.

And what a wild four years they have been for public education in this state.

For a good while, this blog has averaged at least a post a day and tried to keep a good eye on what is happening in the state as far as public ed is concerned.

AND THAT WILL NOT STOP. Going to keep writing and sharing thoughts, insights, and certainly opinions.

BUT WHAT IS CHANGING IS THAT…

I will now only share my blog posts on my social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter: Stu Egan (@egan_stu) and Caffeinated Rage (@ragecaffeinated). And of course, this blog.

It’s a personal decision, but I invite people to share whatever they feel needs to be shared. There is no plan to change what the blog does or how it goes about its daily business. No sponsors, no asking for donations, no change of direction.

If there is one thing I ask of anyone who reads this blog and receives something positive, it is this: officially follow it with your email, “like” it in your social media, and ask friends and colleagues to follow it as well.

But most importantly, thanks for reading even if you don’t agree with me.

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There is still a lot to be done for this state and its public schools.

Oh, there’s that election thing coming as well.

 

Another Horrible Bill From The Man Who Brought NC The Failed Innovative School District

Remember this?

In 2016, then Rep. Rob Bryan and the House Committee on Education, pushed through a bill that would establish an ASD (Achievement School District) in North Carolina allowing the control of some of the state’s low-performing schools to be outsourced to out-of-state entities.

That ASD was renamed the Innovative School District (ISD) in 2017 in an attempt to “relabel” it under a more favorable light.

After a rather contentious selection process that saw communities galvanize to keep their “under-preforming” schools from being put into the ISD, one school was then selected and marked to be taken over by an outside entity – Southside Ashpole Elementary School in Robeson County.

Then in 2018, Rob Bryan lost his reelection bid. But his affiliation with the ISD baceme even more entrenched.

In April of 2018, Dr. Eric Hall, then the superintendent of the ISD, formally presented to the NC State Board of Education his recommendation for an operator for Southside Ashpole.

From Alex Granados of EdNC.org on April 4, 2018:

Southside Ashpole will be the first school and is slated to operate under the ISD starting this coming fall. However, having an operator in place before is a crucial first step before that can happen. 

Hall’s recommendation, Charlotte-based Achievement for All Children(AAC) includes former Rep. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg, on its leadership team. Bryan was the lawmaker who spearheaded the legislation that became the Innovative School District. 

Rob Bryan was a part of AAC. And that ISD has been a failure.

 

reforms4

Southside Ashpole Elementary:
4 – F’s
Everything else is an “I” which stands for “Insufficient Data.”
1 – Not Met’s
2 – Met

And in a time of absolute economic turmoil, Bryan has just filed a bill that will give a tax credit for people who do not send their kids to public schools.

bryan1

But this really is not that odd for someone like Rob Bryan. His background in pushing ALEC aligned “reforms” is not a secret, and when you look at it in its entirety, it becomes clear that Rob Bryan is no friend of public schools in NC.

From Meet the UNC Board of Governors (uncbog.com):

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Dear NCGA, Go Ahead And Waive Standardized State Tests And School Performance Grades For Next Year

How and when public schools open this next school year are questions that have only begun to be asked.

But from what we already know from history is that even with a surplus in the budget, Phil Berger and Tim Moore will be sure not to fully fund public schools even though they constantly measure them in unfair ways.

Now we have what will surely be another budgetary battle with the economic depression that COVID-19 has caused.

Last fall, WestEd brought out its report on the Leandro case and the failings of the state to adequately fulfill its duties of funding public education. And that brings to mind a recent quote by Sen. Phil Berger.

leandroberger1

No doubt about that, Mr. Berger. You’ve already shown that you won’t spend money that you do have.

But there are some things that can be done now in this session of the NC General Assembly to help schools next year. The first could be to waive all state testing next year and the use of school performance grades.

Unless, Berger & Company can guarantee that schools will have ample resources, time, space, and support this next school year as we would have had if there was no epidemic, then standardized tests and the SPG’s that use them to measure schools should be waived for 2020-2021.

Come to think of it though, Berger & Company have never guaranteed that schools will have ample resources, time, space, and support.

Even during an economic boom.

 

Open Schools ASAP? Only If That Means “As Safe As Possible.”

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Yes. A lot of people are wanting schools to open up again in the fall on schedule which is a tad bit ironic in that we are still in the 2019-2020 school year. We still have at least 11 weeks until the school schedule for most NC traditional public schools is set to begin the 2020-2021 school year.

This week marks the beginning of the 11th week of remote learning. Lots can happen between now and August: peaks, phases, curves, breakthroughs, resurgences, AND THE NEED FOR VIABLE PLANS. MULTIPLE PLANS.

The words “As soon as possible” should not associated with opening up something that brings as many people together in a confined space with the contagious nature of something that can easily be spread to others in homes and other places unless another “ASAP” is involved.

As Safe As Possible. That is not the “ASAP” that Trump was talking about.

No where has Trump ever said he would boost funding to help schools set up plans and enact the to keep as many people safe as possible.

And the “much very good information now available?” From shining light under the skin to using bleach to taking an unproven drug used primarily for malaria to not recognizing that almost 100,000 people have died to being a nation nowhere near testing levels to even know how big the epidemic is, it would be hard to believe what he has to say about the nature of coronavirus.

Or any other politician or pundit who says we just need to open schools because… well, because.

If you are a politician or public figure who says something like the tweet above, then you should be the first parent to send your child to a public school when doors open for classes that have more than 30 students in them that do not even have the funds to give every student a book for each subject.

About Those State Board of Education Requirements For 2020-2021 Remote Instruction Plans

Late last week, the State Board of Education approved requirements for remote learning in the anticipation that some form of remote learning will be part of the 2020-2021 school year for all public schools. This bulletin was released last Thursday.

requirements for remote plans1

The last part of that release highlighted five specific requirements for each school system.

requirements for remote plans2

  • Consulting with teachers, administrators and instructional support staff, parents, students, community partners, and other stakeholders in developing the plan and effectively communicating it to all involved parties.
  • Surveying student and teacher home connectivity and providing for remote instruction that is appropriate for teachers and students with limited connectivity capability, including the opportunity for students to download remote learning materials in advance when practicable.
  • Ensuring that remote instructional time, practice, and application components support learning growth that continues towards mastery of the standard course of study; and including work measurement guidelines appropriate to each grade level, including deadlines for submission of assignments and methods to assess and grade learning during remote instruction.
  • Ensuring that students with disabilities have equal access to the remote instruction provided by their public school units and that remote instruction is provided in a manner consistent with each student’s individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan.
  • Tracking and reporting attendance on remote instruction days, including protocols for determining attendance, the reporting system to be used, and how attendance procedures will be communicated to parents before remote instruction begins.

 

But look closely at those requirements and what they can encompass and then ask these questions:

What does “consulting with teachers, administrators and instructional support staff, parents, students, community partners, and other stakeholders in developing the plan and effectively communicating it to all involved parties” actually mean? A survey of a few questions does not simply cover this.

Does “surveying student and teacher home connectivity” to ensure that all students and teachers be given the resources to provide for remote learning mean investing money in a digital infrastructure throughout the county/city? If the state constitution says that each student will have access to a free sound education, does that mean that people have to spend money to make themselves ready for remote learning with their own devices and internet connections?

Will each school system offer professional development and collaboration time for schools and teachers to prepare for going remote instead of asking them to learn “on the fly” as has happened this spring?

Are school systems really ready to “ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the remote instruction provided by their public school units?” And is Betsy DeVos aware of this? (As she has seemed oblivious to IDEA for over three years.)

And there are many more questions that need to be asked.

 

Every School Reopening Committee Must Have Certified & Classified People Who Work In Public Schools

When State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced the members of the NC Schools Reopening Task Force last month he forgot to include within its membership some vital perspectives and voices.

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Namely teachers and classified employees who work in public schools.

And now the lack of a semblance of a state plan to reopen schools safely almost begs that each school system put together its own plans.

There are 117 LEAs in NC. Add to that, the needs of elementary schools may differ from middle schools and high schools as far as reopening is concerned. There may have to be multiple plans for each school system from the smallest of counties that have only a few schools to the biggest districts with over 100 schools.

And each plan that is crafted, revised, and implemented needs to have the voices and input from those who are on the front lines and have the clearest perspectives of what happens in schools on a daily basis: certified and classified staff.

Not just teachers, but also

  • Teacher Assistants
  • Testing Coordinators
  • Administrative Assistants
  • Guidance Counselors
  • Media Assistants
  • Interpreters
  • Therapists – speech, occupational, physical
  • Data Control and Clerks
  • Janitors
  • Maintenance
  • Bus Drivers and Transportation
  • Food Services
  • Crossing Guards
  • Nurses

Without input from those who know schools best, any reopening plan will be just another example of people who may not know what they are really dealing with issuing ill-conceived mandates that may do more damage than good.

 

NC Needs A Nurse In Every School. Every Day.

Remember this quote from Lt. Gov. Dan Forest from 2016 when he was championing HB2, the bathroom bill?

“If our action in keeping men out of women’s bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, then it was worth it. North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children. They are precious and priceless.” – Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on April 5th, 2016 concerning HB2 and PayPal’s announcement to not expand in Charlotte.

Sen. Phil Berger defended that bill just as hard as Forest did and Berger sure as hell wants Forest to be the next governor of this state because we all know that Dan Forest is running for governor. He’s only been campaigning since Roy Cooper took office.

Look at that statement again, especially the last part: “North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children. They are precious and priceless.”

Does Berger believe the same thing? Only if it suits his political ambitions.

He posted this official statement on April 26th, 2019 when NCAE was aksing for the NCGA to fund more nursing positions in schools.

berger1berger tweetBerger3Berger4

Did Berger just put a price tag on our students’ lives?

Yep. Based on “averages.”

The numbers of students committing suicide, experiencing mental health issues, dealing with depression and other maladies is still skyrocketing. And to argue we don’t need more nurses and health workers in schools when schools re-open from this pandemic (when they re-open) is ludicrous.

Funny how Berger issued that statement when he literally championed a bill to protect students at high costs against a nonexistent danger with HB2 while the state was experiencing an economic boom.