Is everyone in agreement with distant the learning transition?

To the editor:

In her April 21 article, “Students are adapting to distance learning MPS says,” Deb Gau provides a well researched and uplifting account of how various Marshall Public Schools officials have assessed the sudden transition students have made from traditional face-to-face classrooms to online and remote settings. From early childhood classrooms, to ELL spaces, to secondary education, Marshall Public Schools “says” students are doing well and that participation is robust.

While the notion of shifting instruction in a matter of days would seem untenable outside a pandemic, teachers have risen to the occasion to be there for their students. Students have sacrificed their routines for new ones, and parents have had to confront a back-to-school moment in their own homes just as the year comes to a close. What would these stakeholders say? Is everyone in agreement with the say-so of the District during these times? Such unity would be a desirable and convenient outcome in a time of great uncertainty. However, I am not convinced everyone would have the same say if given the opportunity to speak about their experiences.

I am especially concerned about those students who don’t have a say — particularly, special needs students whose already marginalized status has become grossly magnified as a result of this arrangement. Despite assurances from top brass that IEPs (Individualized Education Program) have been “adapted” and that all is “going well,” my say as a parent of an exceptional child and an educator is much more complicated and conflicts with the collective thumbs-up offered by the District. Support is fragmented, services are disrupted, and pedagogy has been stripped bare — understandably so since these are new frontiers for all involved. Yet, these difficulties are best left unsaid, it seems.

I cannot but help to wonder if others have endured a less than seamless adaptation to this new normal. What would these parents say? What might affected students say? What are the teachers saying? And, what about those without a say, or have they been pushed to an even farther margin without the chance to speak up?

Michael Albright



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