Should schools retain Black students who fail remote learning instruction?
Recent legislation has left Black parents feeling powerless as several States implement processes for retaining Black students who fail remote learning instruction. It appears that the legislation is one-sided towards penalizing students for the educational complications associated with COVID-19. Since the educational process involves the student and teacher, teachers need to be held to the same level of accountability for schools that retain Black students who fail remote learning instruction.
The educational process hinges on the interaction between a teacher and students. Teachers are the purveyors of knowledge while students are the recipients. The remote learning process can hinder both the teacher and the students.
The remote learning process is a special hindrance on Black students. Teaching Black students requires creating a culturally compatible classroom that concentrates on developing motivation rather than classroom discipline and management techniques and the teaching process of handling material as well as content (Shade, 1997). Furthermore, the highly regimented and formalized school setting is diametrically opposed to Black students’ learning experiences (Gay & Abrahams, 1972). Remote learning is not only highly regimented as well not culturally compatible for Black students.
Students are expected to attend online classes that approximate a traditional school day, with consecutive periods of live video lessons interspersed with brief “brain breaks.” In Newark, elementary and middle schools must provide 290 to 350 minutes of remote learning each day.
This has led to a lack of motivation for many students. Many students are experiencing stress and lack of motivation because of the number of assignments they receive each day. Many have a hard time learning through online school and would much rather have in-person learning.
Remote learning does not provide the opportunity for students to handle classroom materials. Simply put, remote learning is where the student and the educator are not physically present in a traditional classroom environment. Instruction is disseminated through technology tools such as discussion boards, video conferencing, and virtual assessments. It is an attempt to recreate the in-person, face-to-face classroom via the internet.
Another challenge with the remote learning process is school accountability. According to Every Student Succeeds Act, it’s the schools, and the schools alone that are accountable for student learning. In fact, when writing ESSA, Congress explicitly dropped a requirement for states to look at both school and district performance and to intervene when either school- or district-level results fell short of the state’s goals for student learning.
How should parents respond to the continued acceptance of failing Black students?
One response is to refuse to live in an area that endorses retaining Black students who fail the remote learning process. The same people who have endorsed this type of legislation are paid via state and property taxes. If enough people purchase items in another state this will put a dent in the contribution to the salaries of these insensitive politicians. Even if you live in an apartment, the apartment building owner is responsible for paying property taxes which is used to pay the salaries of government employees. Either way your refusal to participate in their system of commerce will eventually stifle their economy. Black students and families are better served in communities that internet to better serve their Black constituents.
Another response is teacher accountability. If a student is retained for remote learning, then the teacher should not qualify for an increase in salary. Many students are failing which means that teachers are failing. For example, preliminary research suggests students nationwide will return to school in the fall with roughly 70% of learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year, and less than 50% in math, according to projections by NWEA, an Oregon-based nonprofit that provides research to help educators tailor instruction. It expects a greater learning loss for minority and low-income children who have less access to technology, and for families more affected by the economic downturn.
In conclusion, Black parents have additional responses not discussed in this article. They can impact the local economics or plan to hold teachers and schools more accountable. All in all, it is inexcusable to believe that schools should retain Black students who fail remote learning instruction.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
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