Posted by Brother Bob on 21 April, 2020 at 8:31 am. 12 comments already!

The Fairfax school system has become a case study in the worst of our public education system. As much as it pains me to link the Washington Post as a source of reference, this article by Hannah Natanson gives a thorough blow by blow of the many mistakes that were made (emphasis mine).

As schools across America, shut down by the novel coronavirus, scrambled to kick-start online learning, one of the largest and best-ranking school systems in the nation took its time.

Fairfax County Public Schools, in Northern Virginia, waited four weeks, including a week of spring break, before launching virtual school for its 189,000 students. It finally started on Tuesday, when teachers and children sat before screens to embark on a plan the superintendent promised would allow students “to continue learning . . . while being mindful of their health and wellness.”

The trouble started immediately, as many students and teachers found it impossible to log on. For some who could get online, things only got worse: Classes were hijacked by racist, homophobic and obscene language. Students appeared on screen naked or flashed weapons.

Fairfax canceled school for the rest of the week. In the days since, teachers and families have demanded to know how and why things went so wrong.

“Our families patiently waited for us to roll out this distance learning,” said Fairfax County School Board member Megan McLaughlin. “What happened this week — it just never should have happened. There’s going to be a great deal more of extensive review by this board of why and how it did happen.”

Interviews with more than a dozen Fairfax employees and families suggest initial answers: Needed technology updates were neglected for more than a year. Basic privacy features were ignored. And teachers were left adrift with scant guidance.

We’ll come back to the emphasized points in a minute. The article gives a good look at the many issues, from lack of testing, failure to install software updtes for over a year, lack of controls, etc. Let’s get to the real cause of this, again, emphasis mine:

Soon after Gov. Ralph “Coonman” Northam (D) ordered schools closed on March 13, Fairfax teachers began clamoring for ways to reach their students.

“From the get-go, they were grasping at the fastest and easiest way to get back in touch,” said Becca Ferrick, president of the Association of Fairfax Professional Educators, which represents 1,800 educators.

Some delays were understandable. The Virginia Department of Education had recommended districts refrain from grading or requiring schoolwork, in an effort to allay concerns about students having unequal access to resources. Some employees spent the first part of the closure setting up meal distribution sites. Others were intent on delivering devices and Internet access to families.

“We’re dealing with a pandemic, which is a little bit more important than dealing with education,” said Kimberly Adams, president of the 4,000-strong Fairfaxa Education Association. “At least for a bit there.”

But teachers said they were given little to do, and almost no guidance, for the first week after schools closed. Some tried to contact children by emailing and calling. The second week of the closure brought a handful of staff meetings. By the third week, teachers were taking brief trainings on how to use the video platform offered by Blackboard, an education technology company that Fairfax has contracted for about two decades.

OK, I might have made a minor edit at the top of this last excerpt. But the biggest problem is that damnable Leftist sacrament of punishing everyone in the name of phrases like “unequal access”. Fairfax’s public school system will be remembered as an easily explained demonstartion in how top down sentral planning does not work. Note the last paragraph in the last excerpt how teachers’ attempts to do their jobs was spotty at best. If unionized public school teachers are the gods among us that the anti-school choice crowd tells us they are, why were teachers not given more leeway?

Here in The People’s Republic of Arlington, our situation is far from perfect. After the return from spring break it was decided that students would be given no new concepts for the rest of the year. Parents in the elementary school system were given lesson plans designed to take @ 45 minutes each day. And the schools had the thick booklet of printouts at the schools for parents to pick up if they didn’t want to print at home (so much for unequal access). That said, parents at least have guidance to go beyond the lesson plans. At the outset Little Bob’s teacher reached out with lesson plans. Several different apps were put out for kids to be able to download and use. Links to webistes for science and art were provided. Yes, a lot falls on the parents, but at least Arlington had the flexibility to give every child in its system the opportunity to learn.

The Fairfax School system has a lot to answer for, but at least they achived their primary goal of Fairfax equality. The residents of Fairfax now get to decide if this is how they want their kids to get educated. They certainly got an education, and now we’ll see if they learned from it.

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Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog

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