CORONAVIRUS: ELMO And The Unhappy Palm Beach County Teachers

Coronavirus News Palm Beach County Schools

TEACHERS: “Don’t Blame Us. Elmo Came Courtesy Of The School District.”

Welcome to Second Grade distance learning for gifted students. It’s Elmo.

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Our story earlier today calling out Palm Beach County elementary school teachers using an Elmo video to teach second graders sure struck a nerve. To be clear: we couldn’t have been more clear in our assertion that there are absolutely great teachers in the school district who are working overtime, ensuring kids are getting the best education possible.

We would name teachers that our kids personally have, but that accounts for just a few of many excellent teachers in the District.

What really annoyed some readers is our connection between assigning an Elmo video and laziness. If it wasn’t laziness, we asked, how would everyone’s favorite red furry muppet end up in legitimate lesson plans for 7 and 8 year olds?

The answers come courtesy of teachers who called BocaNewsNow.com throughout the day. In exchange for a guarantee of anonymity, they told us exactly what is happening. Most — but not all — of the teachers reaching out are in Boca, Boynton, Delray or other South Palm Beach County schools.

Teachers — according to those calling us — are being told to generate their lesson plans from what we’ll call a Palm Beach County School District “online buffet.” Each section of the buffet satisfies a “standard” or lesson that teachers must teach. There’s writing, there’s math, there’s science, there’s social studies.

Elmo was in the social studies section of the buffet on Monday. Did teachers HAVE to take him? No. Did some CHOOSE to take him? Yes.

Teachers contacting us say, by and large, that they are appalled that their colleagues in second grade would think Elmo is age or content appropriate. Those teachers arguably should have taken something else from the buffet. But these tipsters point to a larger issue: why is administration in the Palm Beach County School District offering pre-school-level Elmo videos to second grade teachers?

We asked the school district but have received no response.

“I think parents who have kids in Kindergarten next year are hearing these stories and are thinking poorly of the school district,” said one of our sources. “It’s not the teachers! There are definitely lazy teachers but most of us are just trying to what we can with what we are being given. Elmo shouldn’t have been given to second grade teachers.”

Teachers calling us also point to a larger issue: the quality of the work. While some grades are being given truly challenging assignments, others are being given “busy” work by Palm Beach County School District officials who apparently are disconnected from what students are truly capable of doing.

“Our Principals have been sidelined,” said a teacher. “This is all coming from the District. There is no understanding of how long work takes or even what work should be given. I’m hearing from parents whose kids are done for the day at 10 a.m. We know our kids. Our principals know our kids. The School District has no idea what many of these kids can do.”

“It’s like they’re building the plane while flying it,” said another teacher.

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