By James C. Sherlock
I have only a brief experience as a middle school teacher in Fairfax County back in 1966/67 and several years as a volunteer remedial math instructor in middle school in Virginia Beach in this decade. I am not a graduate of a school of education.
So I have just read with interest,” Recover, Redesign, Restart 2020,” by the Virginia Department of Education.
The forward says in part:
“Through this document, we strive to offer guidance, technical support, best practices and alternate solutions as divisions prepare to continue providing instruction to all 1.3 million Virginia students under uncertain and evolving circumstances.”
Unfortunately, the document reads like a thesis. It is 136 pages long and credits for the product 228 participants, a great many of which are PhDs, in a long list of task forces and advisory panels.
I urge you each to open and at least scan it online.
It is full of such impressively pedantic guidance as:
“Utilize Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and evaluate existing data to identify students most vulnerable to learning loss, design diagnostic systems to evaluate and monitor learning growth, consider utilizing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to differentiate instruction, and create flexible instructional/planning schedules to support vertical instruction.”
OK, Virginia’s teachers are on it.
Go to page 120 and look at
“TIMELINE II.2: FALL ON-TIME REOPEN DATE OR EARLY CALENDAR START – SCHOOLS OPEN WITH LIMITED FACE-TO-FACE INSTRUCTION AND/OR SOCIAL DISTANCING REQUIREMENT”
Go to page 126 – 131 and read
“REPORT OF THE VIRGINIA ACCREDITATION TASK FORCE”
Go to page 132 – 135 and read
“RETURN TO SCHOOL PLANNING EQUITY AUDIT
Virginians owe it to our children to read this document. It defies summation or even polite characterization.
Above all, it provides guidance much of which the authors absolutely knew, or if they did not they had no business being on the panels, could not be completed by school districts, schools, administrators, teachers and special staff before the fall semester that begins in August, or likely ever in the case of some of the guidelines.
While I don’t doubt the sincerity of the participants and thank them for trying, the product constitutes an immense and genuinely unreadable virtue signal. It appears designed as a manifesto, not a guide to actual preparations for school opening.
It literally contains blocks to check and space for notes about why certain blocks are not checked, usefully leaving room for self-criticism.
Most destructively, it sets up school and their administrators, teachers and special staff to be targets of complaints and inevitable lawsuits for things well beyond their control.
If further proof were needed, this work proves once again that America’s graduate schools of education are perhaps American education’s worst enemy