The Joint Committee on Education will hold a virtual oversight hearing on Remote Learning and the Status of K-12 Education during the COVID-19 emergency on Wednesday, May 13 at 11:00 AM.
The hearing will be livestreamed on the Legislature’s website.
While the committee has solicited virtual testimony on an invitational basis from state and district-level stakeholders, all are welcome to submit written testimony to the committee co-chairs, Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Alice Peisch, via email using the subject line “Education Committee Oversight Hearing Testimony” by Tuesday, May 12 at 5:00 PM.
I am not a teacher, student, or parent and certainly feel more weight should be placed on the comments, suggestions, and concerns of these individuals but wanted to share my concerns. These concerns are true for all times, pandemic or not, but are heightened now. I am concerned about access to reliable internet and devices. Each student needs their own device and each home needs reliable internet and electricity. Additionally, younger children will need a parent to assist with schoolwork, and oftentimes, under students will need some assistance, too. How can parents be there for their children if they are worried about earning an income to pay for food, groceries, laundry, etc? Even if they can receive unemployment now, how will this affect future job prospects for them? And how can parents be there for all of their kids simultaneously? How are the diverse needs of children being addressed including social, emotional, and physical? What about access to supplies and meals?
I am very concerned about the dangers of opening schools in Boston too soon. Yes there are many down sides to keeping schools closed past September. As a retired public school teacher(Cambridge Public Schools ) l know that remote learning isn’t a good thing or an equitable experience. But l believe the experts who warn of the deadly consequences of opening schools too soon.
I am a parent and I work as a clinician at an elementary school in the same district where we live.
My own children are overwhelmed with Academic work, and I am overwhelmed with my work.
My students with means (access to technology, school supplies at home, etc.) are getting the services and special supports they need. The children who are higher level and whose parents can help them access the materials are generally doing fine. The younger children, the children with significant disabilities, the children without technology or school supplies are suffering the most. The district is trying to provide those things but it is a big district. I am trying to give them more but I am already stretched thin, and more virtual support is not what they need. At the same time, they are the most medically at risk.
My point is, everyone I see is doing their best: parents, teachers, students. It’s not an ideal situation. When things change (new DESE requirements just added, other SPED changes), it disrupts systems already in place, many of which are already working.
As a parent I am REALLY disappointed that our state doesn’t value my kids future. Since March 12, the school have been doing “enrichment” activities, which is a complete waste of time as no new materials have been taught, the “enrichment” is not standardized, so it is inconsistent across the board and there are no standardized, established ways to monitor delivery of the material across the board. I believe, that it is unfortunate that my 2nd grader and 11th grader really lost the opportunity to learn. We can’t afford private schools, most of which were able to switch to true online learning with new materials within weeks, while public school relied on the state guidelines of not teaching anything new, providing a list of numerous online education apps (not connected to schools) to fill the gap of education. There are many ways to address the online access availability, but to use it as an excuse to not provide the education is unfortunate for my kids. I really expected more from MA education department, with specific unified guidelines and standards to guide the online learning. I am really worried about the level of instruction for my kids if in the fall the schools will not reopen as normal. Also, with all the outside educational resources available, the Education Department should add guidelines of admitting coursework for school credit from reputable sources — for example Calculus from corsera, or edX or universities. My 11th grader would be able to use the time to actually learn the math that is missing vs spending most of her days redoing endless “enrichment” activities.
This is a double edged sword. I fully agree with the other commenters who are concerned about the dangers of opening school too soon. I work for BPS and feel that they have done an admirable job of trying to make sure every student has the equipment and connectivity to engage in remote learning. The problem is remote learning itself. It is not ideal, but workable for relatively independent, older students with a stable environment. It works only marginally or not at all for my students, many of which have complex needs. My students who are non-verbal and have significant sensory needs really need in person instruction or they need a person at home who can serve as a ‘telehelper’ that is willing and able to be with them all the time during the remote learning process, has access to equipment such as a printer and is able to spend hours assembling, programming and putting into place the picture based and voice output communication supports that our complex students require. This is a significant ask, considering that many of the parents in BPS are essential employees. Many of the families on our substantially separate programs have simply opted out, despite the many attempts by educators and school administration to support them.
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