Palm Beach County School District Officials Have Little Choice
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The Palm Beach County School District’s CTA, or Classroom Teacher Association, sent shockwaves throughout the community Saturday when it announced support for school starting on time, but only through distance learning.
We believe the CTA is correct.
In other parts of the country, the “teacher’s union” would have the power to make their request a reality. In Palm Beach County, the true power of the CTA remains to be seen. Florida is a “right to work” state which greatly reduces the strength of collective bargaining.
Even so, the CTA makes a point which school officials have quietly been making to BocaNewsNow.com — and presumably other media outlets — for the past several weeks. There is no realistic path forward right now for “in school” learning as the school year gets underway in just weeks.
The smart move: start with distance learning and only distance learning, then reassess when and if COVID-19 infection rates go down.
Parents already get upset when they are told of a “code red” drill. Just wait to see what happens when the robocall reports COVID-19 infection counts in school.
The dream: everyone goes to school and the year is normal. The reality: it’s not going to happen. In a school district of 180,000 kids, officials concede there is no chance that infected children, teachers or administrators won’t be on campus. When positive tests are revealed, schools will have to shut down. Reports and rumors of infections will create such panic amongst parents that constant disruptions will make stability — or the perception of stability — untenable. Parents already get upset when they are told of a “code red” drill. Just wait to see what happens when the robocall reports COVID-19 infection counts in school.
That affects learning. If everyone is learning from home to start with, disruptions are reduced. The “new normal” becomes the “normal for now” and education gets underway.
For parents complaining that they need school for babysitting, we say that’s not an argument. You have a right to an education, but there is no guarantee that such an education includes babysitting your child throughout the day. There is also no guarantee of after school sports — something lots of parents are “demanding” through emails to our newsroom.
Teachers Must Teach. Laziness Is Unacceptable.
But to the teachers, we send this message: you need to teach. We have learned from administrators that teacher absenteeism was a huge problem when the Palm Beach County School District moved to “distance learning.” Teachers would assign work on Monday, then not reappear online until Thursday. That’s not okay. The only way this works is if teachers are available all day to their students, and yes, like professionals in all lines of work, you may need to work beyond the stated work day.
These are not normal times, and no one is suggesting that distance learning is better than in-school learning. But as they often do, teachers have the correct answer. Let’s start with distance learning and reevaluate as the year progresses. Starting, stopping, starting, stopping, starting, stopping makes no sense.
The consistency of distance learning — even if it’s a consistency that isn’t perfect — is the right answer for now.
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