I Taught Online School This Year. It Was a Disgrace.

June 16, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

Credit…Ashley Gilbertson/VII for The New York Times

By Lelac Almagor

Ms. Almagor teaches fourth grade at a public charter school in Washington, D.C.

Our prepandemic public school system was imperfect, surely, clumsy and test-crazed and plagued with inequities. But it was also a little miraculous: a place where children from different backgrounds could stow their backpacks in adjacent cubbies, sit in a circle and learn in community.

At the diverse Washington, D.C., public charter school where I teach, and which my 6-year-old attends, the whole point was that our families chose to do it together — knowing that it meant we would be grappling with our differences and biases well before our children could tie their own shoes.

Then Covid hit, and overnight these school communities fragmented and segregated. The wealthiest parents snapped up teachers for “microschools,” reviving the Victorian custom of hiring a governess and a music master. Others left for private school without a backward glance.

Some middle-class parents who could work remotely toughed it out at home, checking in on school between their own virtual meetings. Those with younger kids or in-person jobs scraped together education and child care — an outdoor play pod or a camp counselor to supervise hours of Zoom classes. With schools closed, the health risks and child care hours didn’t disappear. They simply shifted from well-educated, unionized, tax-funded professional teachers to hourly-wage, no-benefit workers serving only those who could afford to pay.More on remote learningOpinion | RiShawn BiddleDon’t Kill Remote Learning. Black and Brown Families Need It.June 7, 2021Not Everyone Hates Remote Learning. For These Students, It’s a Blessing.May 20, 2020Opinion | Adam Grant and Allison Sweet GrantKids Can Learn to Love Learning, Even Over ZoomSept. 7, 2020

The families with the fewest resources were left with nothing. No child care, only the pallid virtual editions of essential services like occupational or speech therapy.

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If they could work out the logistics, their kids got a couple of hours a day of Zoom school. If they couldn’t, they got attendance warnings. In my fourth-grade class, I had students calling in from the car while their mom delivered groceries, or from the toddler room of their mom’s busy day care center.

Home alone with younger siblings or cousins, kids struggled to focus while bouncing a fussy toddler or getting whacked repeatedly on the head with a foam sword. Others lay in bed and played video games or watched TV. Many times each day, I carefully repeated the instructions for a floundering student, only to have them reply, helplessly, “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you,” their audio squealing and video freezing as they spoke.

Even under optimal conditions, virtual school meant flattening the collaborative magic of the classroom into little more than an instructional video. Stripped of classroom discussion, human connection, art materials, classroom libraries, time and space to play, virtual school was not school; it was busywork obscuring the “rubber-rooming” of the entire school system.

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Some educators sneered that the parents who complained just wanted free babysitting. But I’m not ashamed to say that child care is at the heart of the work I do. I teach children reading and writing, yes, but I also watch over them, remind them to be kind and stay safe, plan games and activities to help them grow. Children deserve attentive care. That’s the core of our commitment to them.SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVEThursday, June 106 p.m. E.T. | 3 p.m. P.T.RSVP TO ATTENDJoin Michael Barbaro and “The Daily” team as they celebrate the students and teachers finishing a year like no other with a special live event. Catch up with students from Odessa High School, which was the subject of a Times audio documentary series. We will even get loud with a performance by the drum line of Odessa’s award-winning marching band, and a special celebrity commencement speech.

I am still bewildered and horrified that our society walked away from this responsibility, that we called school inessential and left each family to fend for itself. Meanwhile nurses, bus drivers and grocery workers all went to work in person — most of my students’ parents went to work in person — not because it was safe but because their work is essential. Spare me your “the kids are all right” Facebook memes. Some children may have learned to do laundry or enjoy nature during the pandemic. Many others suffered trauma and disconnection that will take years to repair.

I don’t know the first thing about public health. I won’t venture an opinion on what impact the school closures had on controlling the spread of Covid. What I do know is that the private schools in our city quickly got to work upgrading HVAC systems, putting up tents, cutting class sizes and rearranging schedules so that they could reopen in relative safety. Public schools in other states and countries did the same.

More of our public school systems should have likewise moved mountains — repurposed buildings, reassigned staff, redesigned programming, reallocated funding — to offer consistent public schooling, as safely as possible, to all children.

Instead we opened restaurants and gyms and bars while kids stayed home, or got complicated hybrid schedules that many parents turned down because they offered even less stability than virtual school. Even now, with vaccinations rising and case rates dropping, some families remain reluctant to send their kids back to us in the fall. I can’t help thinking that’s because we broke their trust.

Does virtual learning work for some kids, in some circumstances? Sure. So does home-schooling, or not attending school at all. But I am profoundly relieved that most districts, including my own, plan to shut down or restrict the online option.

I hope this means that we are renewing our collective commitment to true public education. Just as before, we will have to fight to make our schools safer, more equitable and more flexible. Just as before, coming together will be messy and complicated. Children, families and teachers will all need time to rebuild relationships with our institutions.

But we’ll be back together, in the same building, eating the same food. We’ll find that the friend who helps us in the morning might need our help in the afternoon. We’ll have soccer arguments at recess and patch them up in closing circle. We’ll sing songs, tell stories, plant seeds and watch them grow. That’s schooling in real life. That’s what public school is for.

Lelac Almagor (@MsAlmagor) is in her 18th year of classroom teaching.

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NYC Teacher commented 1 hour agoNNYC TeacherNYC1h agoTimes Pick

Not a single sentence in this article changes the fact that without a remote option, many more people, including a significant number of school staff, would be dead, or suffering the effects of Long Covid. We had/are having a once in a century global pandemic. Complaining that it wasn’t perfect and that we weren’t able to meet our pre-pandemic priorities through the duration of it reveals a profound lack of perspective.21 Replies325 RecommendShareFlagLaura commented 1 hour agoLLauraChicago59m agoTimes Pick

As a teacher in Chicago, I struggled with online teaching in the fall; after adjusting to new tech and new ways of teaching, I found it very convenient — no commuting, no classroom discipline, no dragging papers home. But throughout, it has been overwhelmingly negative for most students. I felt guilt for reasons precisely described in this op-ed. Why were my students’ parents essential enough to be exposed, but I am too important to get covid or laid off? And, yes, teachers play an important role in childcare– deal with it peers! I still am dumbfounded as to how my district and union did not even attemp innovative solutions.1 Reply226 RecommendShareFlagBret commented 4 hours agoBBretChicago4h ago

Teacher rant here… Look if we care sooooo much about the children and education that we’re willing to sacrifice teachers to disease, then we should be willing to deal directly with the real problem for children in our educational system that is perennial: POVERTY. Until I start seeing a real genuine honest admission that student success depends more on zip code than anything—and consequently an effort to make children’s lives better Carothers board—until then, all of these self-righteous articles about education being essential…because of the kids…ring as superficial and hollow. Deal with the real problems of this country instead of laying them all at the feet of underpaid teachers.6 Replies220 RecommendShareFlagDC commented 5 hours agoDDCMaine5h ago

Without a vaccine mandate for school employees, even putting teachers in the front of the line for vaccinations would not have resulted in a safe in-person environment for my daughter. You can thank the Trump admin (and Facebook) for the abysmal vaccine rates even in hospitals (!), as they politicized the issue and spread disinformation which resonates strongly to this day, such that we will likely never meet minimum vaccination goals (and country-wide herd immunity). This was much bigger than simply our failure to prioritize our public schools. We failed to prioritize Covid itself. While I agree with the author on nearly all points, a charter school is NOT the same as for example, the genuinely public school my daughter attends here in Maine. When districts went “charter,” the investment in true public schooling officially ended. And while I cannot disagree with parents in the middle of a badly-managed pandemic, deciding to pull their kids from public schools in favor of private, their behavior is nonetheless representative of this general movement away from supporting the public school system.4 Replies193 RecommendShareFlagMark commented 4 hours agoMMarkSouth Carolina4h ago

I could not agree more. In twenty years, when histories are written about America’s response to the pandemic, the single biggest realization will be how we failed our children by closing schools. We’ve made lots of mistakes: sanitizing groceries (never necessary), wearing masks outside (ditto), not encouraging fitness as a way to reduce risk. Our biggest mistake has been our approach to public education.3 Replies145 RecommendShareFlagTom Henning commented 4 hours agoTTom HenningNew York4h ago

@NYC Teacher Also an NYC teacher here: It’s time to put away the specter of mass teacher deaths that justified so many of us sitting home for the past year. It didn’t happen anywhere in the world, and never was going to happen in NYC, in schools with basic masking and distancing. That was unscientific fear mongering by the union, and everyone fell for it. Remember April 2020, when our union president read the list of 30 teachers who died of COVID, as if they caught it in school? Turns out that was 1/3 the death rate of the general population at that time before masking. Teaching was actually one of the safest professions, even when the virus was spreading silently.In Reply to Hooli145 RecommendShareFlagGino Lombardo commented 50 minutes agoGGino LombardoNE49m agoTimes Pick

As someone who also teaches fourth grade, I can safely say most of the problems the author faces are the result of how different families value education differently. I taught half in person and half remote this year. My remote class was better behaved, more engaged, and generally more fun to work with. Not that there weren’t challenges, but in general students who chose to school remotely were more invested. Their families provided set up and support for their online learning. When our school went fully remote due to a building outbreak and my in person kids went remote, then I saw some of what the author saw. Horrible work conditions, disengagement, etc. It’s interesting to note most of those same students who were a problem teaching remote also are the ones who have more demanding emotional and behavioral needs. As teachers we’re asked to perform miracles and have taken over sole responsibility for the education and well being of many students, when in fact it’s truly the responsibility of a parent to make sure their child gets a good education. It’s this last bit that never really gets talked about, though.8 Replies139 RecommendShareFlagSamantha M. commented 5 hours agoSSamantha M.Blue Georgia5h ago

Our schools remained virtual for most of the year. We were in a very hard hit area with extremely high Covid spread and a governor whose policies only added to the chaos. Yes, some people prioritized opening bars and gyms, like the author said. But it’s not a straight either/or corollary. Many of our students live with grandparents or even great-grandparents who were at greater risk should they bring home Covid from school. This was a hard call and kids did lose out on the benefits of in person learning, there’s no question about that. However, I still believe it was the right choice for our community given the rate of spread and the vulnerability of so many, including school staff. When we did return, the littles returned first. Now that we are back together this summer, we are focused on hands on learning, SEL, and rebuilding community. The kids have come back with trauma, so have the teachers. But there’s a deeper well of empathy too, than what I’ve seen before. I disagree with the premise that we should have pushed forward with in person learning during the pandemic. Our teachers and district did a good job managing technology, and quickly adapted to online learning. I’m sick of the insinuation that educators should have been willing to lay down their very lives to Covid when we had a decent option available. Finally, kids have been kept relatively safe from Covid spread. You can (at least partly) thank online learning for that.2 Replies129 RecommendShareFlagSimon Li commented 3 hours agoSSimon LiNew York3h ago

The irony here is that a charter school teacher is calling for ‘us’ to “renew our collective commitment to true public education”. Charter schools divert resources from real public schools–schools that must take everyone. Charter schools have entrance requirements that screen their intake and shape their cohorts: lotteries–parents must have the initiative and awareness to sign up and get paperwork in; parents participation requirements, non-compliance with which can get a student removed; harsh discipline policies that ‘persuade’ parents of troublesome students to remove their child (lest they continually suspended or not promoted). Public school is for everyone. Charters schools are not.6 Replies108 RecommendShareFlagCB commented 4 hours agoCCBNJ4h ago

@NYC Teacher There is absolutely no proof that many more people would have died. Did you not read a word of the article? Privileging teachers required everyone else to recombine themselves in other settings, drag their kids to work, replace teachers with other people to allow their kids to learn or simply their parents to work. The one place we could have all focused our collective energy on safety would have been schools. Many schools successfully stayed open in other states and countries. Meanwhile the people who work in supermarkets and all the other places delivered their essential services to you and they and their their children suffered societal abandonment, the results of which will linger a long time. A collective trust and mutual responsibility was broken.In Reply to Hooli102 RecommendShareFlagSilicon Valley Poli Sci Guy commented 3 hours ago

Silicon Valley Poli Sci Guy

Silicon Valley Poli Sci GuySan Mateo, SV, CA3h ago

From a parents perspective, simple message — emphatic thank you to teachers, administrators, volunteers, parents and kids who survived a year of fear. No time to relax. Require all teachers, kids and relatives to be vaxxed as soon as possible. For kids who fell behind, and there were plenty, get the summer learning going. Reading every day. Fully open in person in the fall. And for Christ’s sake pay our teachers a livable wage!Reply95 RecommendShareFlagalan commented 5 hours agoAalanMA5h ago

My daughter’s experience with remote learning was not good. Who’s to blame? Everyone. She’s very shy so was easily lost as a little image on a computer screen. The teacher’s who have never taught a remote classroom were not able to scan the room and note body language alerting them to a student either not understanding or not listening. I, and I’m sure many others, as a parent did not realize how much monitoring of our daughter was required. Was remote learning a mistake? NO! The pandemic necessitated it. Hopefully we all learned and catalogued how to do this in the event that remote learning is required again.1 Reply83 RecommendShareFlagHarvey Marshak commented 5 hours agoHHarvey MarshakAccord, New York5h ago

Covid just highlighted and exacerbated an already crucial problem for the nation. Public schools are the incubators of the country’s future. Rather than cultivate and nourish them as such, we underfund and ignore the deterioration of public education. Universal Pre-K and free Community College are good starts. But top to bottom, invest in public education, including paying teachers very well, and the country’s cream can rise to the top. If not, public schools will simply be the incubators for greater inequality.4 Replies70 RecommendShareFlagLawrence Zajac commented 4 hours agoLLawrence ZajacBrooklyn4h ago

Education reform made the inadequacies of online instruction even more pronounced. For most of the last two decades, the onus has been put on teachers and administrations to produce “better” stats. What it hasn’t produced is better learners. The students know that if they don’t put forth effort to understand, that it is incumbent upon the teachers with current systems of accountability to break it down further until the lessons look more like a set of directions than a path to understanding. Over the last two decades, students largely have not learned to learn. After the pandemic ebbs, this country could be once again comforted by the illusion of education that has been created by reform.1 Reply65 RecommendShareFlagAmy commented 3 hours agoAAmyNM3h ago

The sad reality is our society does not value education. Highly educated teachers are paid very little in many parts of the country and receive little societal support or respect. Teachers are essential workers yet they were not prioritized for early vaccination and were expected to be in a room full of kids with no protection. A society that valued its teachers would not have expected that. Teachers died, they retired early, or just decided the profession was not worth risking their lives over, and who can blame them? Of course in most cases education is best done in person but a part of the problem during the pandemic was that schools had no platform or curriculum. Teachers were expected to replicate what they might have done in a live classroom over Zoom. It doesn’t work. I’m a teacher in a school that is always on line. We have a sophisticated computer platform with a built in curriculum. We carried on as before and gained many students who were getting nothing out of the thrown together lessons teachers in traditional schools were forced to put together. This article’s complaints annoys me on a certain level. We were in the midst of a deadly pandemic. In person school was dangerous and not practical in most situations. Schools are usually underfunded. They did not have the money for new ventilation systems. Some don’t even have functioning windows to open. If society didn’t always put education on the back burner there might have been better options. There weren’t.1 Reply64 RecommendShareFlagJosephina commented 45 minutes agoJJosephinaNew York44m agoTimes Pick

I don’t disagree with much of this column, but I do find it tragic that we had an opportunity to completely revamp our archaic educational system but instead worked tirelessly to maintain the status quo. We missed an opportunity for major reform. Sad.5 Replies61 RecommendShareFlagPatagonia commented 4 hours ago


PatagoniaNYC4h ago

Closing schools was the worst mistake made during the pandemic. Schools should be the last to close and first to reopen.5 Replies61 RecommendShareFlagjane commented 57 minutes agoJjanealaska56m agoTimes Pick

From one educator to another, demanding that public schools “move mountains” to open shows a complete lack of understanding that many public schools are underfunded and can’t. How can you improve ventilation when windows don’t open? Some schools would have to completely remodel their buildings. This is more “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” nonsense. My school district has not yet returned to 2008 spending levels. If your school can afford it, good for you but stop assuming everyone is facing the same situation you are.7 Replies60 RecommendShareFlagCathy commented 5 hours agoCCathyHopewell Junction N.Y.5h ago

At no point did I hear of a set of plans required to return to full attendance. Guidelines told us that masks, social distancing were required. The masks were easier – except for anti-maskers – but social distancing meant multiplying the classrooms and teachers by a factor of 2 to 3 in our district. Or having kids attend less than half the time. Upgrading HVAC systems – assuming that the building actually uses HVAC forced air – was not possible for every building or district. But we could have used instructions on use of fans, windows, open doors. We could have used data to help us understand if we were better off diluting but spreading virons, or leaving them concentrated in smaller areas. Our next pandemic plan, which we should consider actually using at the beginning of a pandemic, needs to include real mitigation information with real data on ventilation techniques and safety. And we might want to consider adding other mitigation tools such as air filtration and UV lights to public schools to help with both flu season and the next crisis.Reply59 RecommendShareFlagHarry commented 2 hours agoHHarryChester2h ago

Many poor, urban public schools could not return for one simple reason. Many poor community public schools do not have functioning heating, ventilation or air conditioning systems. Children in our schools often wear their coats while sitting in class. 92 degrees in the classroom last week. I can’t think of any business that operates this way. And yet, as we have seen, this is how our republican majority in Pennsylvania’s legislature treats its children. Squeeze it for funding…then privatize. Cha-ching.Reply59 RecommendShareFlagAlix Hoquet commented 2 hours agoAAlix HoquetNY2h ago

For most people, remote learning is not an alternative to in person education, it’s a Plan B under exceptional circumstances. The decision to move to remote education in response to the pandemic didn’t create the inequities described in this essay. Mostly, it exposed them. The inequities are structural. They were present before the pandemic and will remain long after it ends unless we decide to actively address very deep cultural and systemic problems in the United States.2 Replies58 RecommendShareFlagMichael commented 4 hours agoMMichaelWashington, DC4h ago

“Stripped of classroom discussion, human connection, art materials, classroom libraries, time and space to play, virtual school was not school; it was busywork obscuring the “rubber-rooming” of the entire school system.” This.2 Replies55 RecommendShareFlagRobert Scull commented 4 hours agoRRobert ScullCary, NC4h ago

I agree that online learning discriminates against the poor, but charter schools are also a form of segregation with different rules for different classes of people.2 Replies49 RecommendShareFlagDiane commented 3 hours agoDDianeNJ3h ago

I teach in a very hard hit city, every time the parents were surveyed to send their kids back in person, most declined. We were set to open in Sept., Nov., and Jan. The parents did not want to send their kids back. They live in multi-generational homes. We didn’t open until April, with most kids still at home learning remotely. Out of 10 classrooms, 2 were shut down the first month for positive Covid. It was not the teacher’s union that kept us remote, it was the parents. And I don’t blame them. Kids are resilient, Deaths are forever.2 Replies49 RecommendShareFlagCharlotte commented 4 hours agoCCharlotteMA4h ago

@Laura you’ve clearly never taught–in-person or online. Otherwise, you would not be suggesting that teaching online deserves LESS pay. It requires a different set of skills than face-to-face teaching and more time-consuming prep for every lesson. Some districts were able to provide the training and resources needed to do it well. Many others were not.21 Replies45 RecommendShareFlagAR Clayboy commented 2 hours agoAAR ClayboyScottsdale, AZ2h ago

The outcomes you describe are not surprising given the fact that our standard model — in-person, hands-on teaching by professional educators — should produce better results than a casual on-line alternative. And it is no doubt the case that better-resourced families likely created superior alternatives to regular school than families without the required training, time or resources. I would also like to add a note on the “disciplinary” factor in traditional classroom education. I teach law school. During the pandemic, our students were given the option of attending in-person or virtually. A small cadre attended class regularly, but the vast majority opted for the virtual “pajama” version. I taught virtually the same materials in virtually the same way as I had in the past, with perhaps slightly more supplementary explanatory materials. When I sat down to grade the final exams, I was mortified by the level of comprehension. It was as though I frankly had failed to impart the material. Law students are pursuing post-graduate education in a highly competitive field, and paying a huge tuition for the opportunity to do so. If anyone should have the incentive to fight through the virtual disadvantage, it should have been them. Yet, without the discipline of the classroom, most of the students were far to casual in their reading, attention to the lectures, and development of a working knowledge of the subject matter. My conclusion: classrooms matter.4 Replies45 RecommendShareFlagGovTeacher commented 3 hours agoGGovTeacherOhio3h ago

Great, another article inviting people to beat up teachers and their unions. The comments say it all. Many schools did operate in person this year – mine did in a hybrid fashion. It was hard, but we got the job done and the kids had a pretty good year all things considered. Every district and school had a different circumstance – buildings, populations, and numerous other factors different. They all tried to make the best decision they could given the facts and circumstances they had at their disposal. This article glosses over the fact that people were dying, and still are, and science wasn’t sure how the pandemic spread or what the risks were. Many schools struggled to enforce mask mandates and distancing that the science says were the best way to limit spread. I spent all year spraying down desks and chairs with disinfectant that we now know is just health and wellness theater. COVID didn’t really spread on surfaces. Let’s pick up the pieces and move forward. The kids will be alright because we have a great number of teachers who care about kids and the “standards” they missed out on were arbitrarily set to begin with.1 Reply44 RecommendShareFlagJLE commented 3 hours agoJJLEMA3h ago

Either/or statements, apple and orange comparisons and drawing conclusions on feelings rather than data driven reasoning and epidemiology (in the case of the pandemic) yield no positive pro-social results. As a veteran teacher, coincidentally with a masters in public health, one of the many reasons I quit this week after two decades in the classroom (as a “popular” teacher who kept receiving honors, for what it’s worth) was because of how passionately convinced non-educators and non-public health trained people are of what we teachers did wrong, with no awareness of what we have had to weather (particularly this, but if I’m honest, every year). Teachers are up against a society of Dunning-Kruger ignoramuses.1 Reply43 RecommendShareFlagThayer commented 3 hours agoTThayerMA3h ago

My daughter loved the online learning experience— and her high school did a phenomenal job. Not all places managed as well. But, As a physician, I understood the complicated effort, and the concerns for teacher safety, student transmissibility and the underperformance/underestimation of our public health effort. So no, I don’t agree with application of the word disgrace in this context. 20-20 hind site and generalizations don’t clarify this attempt at addressing a complicit public health emergency.Reply42 RecommendShareFlagchamus commented 2 hours agoCchamusNew York2h ago

My 14-year-old son had a virtual year of learning. I listened in at times. It wasn’t great but the teachers were amazing in their upbeat perseverance. They began to return to school in April and by May it was four days a week. At least in our school district, a lot of teachers–and that goes for college faculty as well–have underlying health conditions. Or their spouses have them. It wasn’t just about getting sick, it was about serious consequences and even death. What was going on with the kids is also somewhat complicated. My niece was in college and got COVID early on. More than a year after getting COVID she has yet to recover not just fully but adequately. We did learn things about teaching and learning this past year. Fantasies about on-line learning have faded, but there will be ways in which Zoom is likely to continue in our lives. What we need to worry about now: kids 5-12 need to get vaccinated for the fall and schools must require it. With the new variants, serious dangers for our children are likely to be there in the fall.1 Reply41 RecommendShareFlagchandler commented 4 hours ago


chandlerNyack, NY4h ago

I teach in a public school. I made a conscious decision to teach in a public school for all the reasons Lelac Almagor describes. I will not claim _all_ public schools insulate themselves from the issues of privilege that wealth disparity exacerbates, but the processes institutionalized through a long history of strong labor practices — including tenure, sure, but more to the point safeguards for all children’s quality of instruction — have ensured not only that my school stayed open this year (yeah, with a lot of students attending remotely on Zoom), but that the most essential functions of “school” were undisturbed. Teachers in my school laid eyes on every student every day. We said the names of our students to them aloud, so they knew that they still existed in a world that noticed them. We gave them interesting things to read and asked them for their take. We promised them there was a future. All of this was a function of a strong union that opposes privilege and undermines the claim that wealth grants passage to more opportunity to accrue more wealth. If anyone wonders why charter schools are a thing, just ask a rich person. Without any responsibility to care for all children, a school that operates for money and by the grace of rich donors will never act with benevolence toward all children. Schools that take seriously the responsibility to educate and care for all children, and that disseminate their funding equally to all children, will allow all kids to thrive.3 Replies39 RecommendShareFlagEileen commented 2 hours agoEEileenPhoenix, AZ2h ago

@Ray we also did this. It was a mess. It was even more of a mess as indIvidual schools opened and then closed again based on COVID case numbers. It was even more of a mess as hybrid learning was tried, abandoned, and tried again. And it became neighborhood warfare as parents clogged school meetings, screaming at each other for closure or openings, for masks or no masks. I live in a red state in a red school district. Blame Democrats if it makes you feel better, but this problem also occurred in Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Ohio…..etc.In Reply to The Lorax38 RecommendShareFlagADubs commented 3 hours agoAADubsChicago3h ago

How sad that this teacher spent the year on what she deems “busywork” with her students. That certainly wasn’t the case in my classroom. Never in my career have I received such an overwhelming and sincere outpouring of gratitude for helping students learn valuable skills and knowledge this year. My own daughter also had a great experience and her test scores actually increased. Our public schools truly rose to the occasion this year. Maybe it’s time to rethink the charter schools like this teacher works at. Many drain resources away from public schools and still don’t produce any better results – or have the know-how to move beyond busywork when children need it most.Reply37 RecommendShareFlagOhio Mom commented 33 minutes agoOOhio MomCincinnati32m agoTimes Pick

Sorry, I stopped reading at “charter.” But I will say this: almost every education discussion suffers from the five-blind-men-describe-an-elephant syndrome. My (admittedly well-funded suburban) school district weathered the pandemic by hiring 40(!) extra teachers to handle the increased work load. Perhaps this shows what could be possible, if only every district had ample resources, and our country finally, truly, addressed our appalling child poverty numbers (almost a quarter of US children live in poverty).Reply37 RecommendShareFlagApril commented 4 hours agoAAprilNYC4h ago

Where were the engineers, architects, trade unions and builders when we needed them to figure out how to retrofit schools quickly to make them safe. All these people and we couldn’t figure out how to improve the ventilation situation in our public schools? We had over a year! We could build field hospitals in tents and convention centers but not use those same things for schools to allow for the social distancing. If there was ever a time to guilt someone into volunteering their time and skill set for the greater good this was it. People complain that they lack purpose and feel depressed. Here was an opportunity and we missed it.2 Replies36 RecommendShareFlagNicole commented 2 hours agoNNicoleWilliamstown, MA2h ago

YES. And what a relief to see a NYT piece that doesn’t sing the praises of Zoom classes as the best possible future for our children (or rather, the children of those who are too unsuccessful to make it into private schools). I also feel a great sense of betrayal by our public schools this year, even as I recognize it is the result of many decades of neglect. Thank you, Ms. Almagor, for taking the time and effort to write this piece.Reply36 RecommendShareFlagMartha commented 2 hours agoMMarthaKentucky2h ago

This was an excellent article, obviously written by a very capable, passionate teacher. Children do need the vibrancy and intimacy of an in-person school community and a wonderful teacher like the author. So let’s value ALL the people who make the school community such an important part of a child’ s life. When people blame teacher’s unions for protecting teachers they are missing the point. Everyone in a school should and must be be protected or there will be no school -as witnessed this past year. The author was very clear about what it took to provide a safe, in-person learning environment for all involved. It took money. Money to build better ventilation systems, money for sanitation supplies and tents, and money to build appropriate learning spaces. Until we as a nation value all schools and everyone in them, and make them a national priority, we have not learned a thing.5 Replies34 RecommendShareFlagPositively commented 3 hours ago


Positively4th Street3h ago

@Simon Li: I was similarly struck by that disconnect. Charter schools aren’t public by any stretch of the imagination.In Reply to Simon Li31 RecommendShareFlagRay commented 49 minutes agoRRayNew York48m ago

This. One thousand times this. Democrats and blue states have made a terrible mistake. I am a parent and I am horrified what they did to our children, I am leaving the Democratic Party. I spent the last 15 months in utter disbelief. Other countries did not do this! Other states did not do this. They did.not.do.this. Parents are a quieter voting bloc as a whole, we are too disparate and too busy. We don’t advocate or protest en masse. But we do vote. Dems will lose the House and Senate over this in 2022, no doubt. Anyone thinking otherwise is not paying attention to the quiet but incredible anger boiling in most parents in blue states.10 Replies31 RecommendShareFlagSamantha M. commented 4 hours agoSSamantha M.Blue Georgia4h ago

Why were there no classroom discussions, art supplies, etc? We sent home loads of supplies for every student, had curbside library checkouts, device repair, utilized Zoom for synchronous learning, and the Google suite for collaboration. Sounds like your district needs a better understanding of Ed. Tech and more creative leaders.In Reply to Sierra Morgan30 RecommendShareFlagChe Beauchard commented 3 hours agoCChe BeauchardLower East Side3h ago

The pandemic has revealed the kind of country and society that we are, and the picture it revealed was quite ugly. Class divisions that we pretend are not part of our democratic society were not only put under a glaring light, but were amplified. The poor received another stark lesson about their having to know their place and stay in it. Rugged individualism was revealed as the stark selfishness that it often is, as people perceived some odd sort of right to put the health and lives of others at risk. Indeed, mask refusal became a badge of an inverse mark of honor. My right to sicken you trumped your right to a healthy life. Honest people looking in the collective mirror will see a collectively shameful performance. Yes, there have been examples of selfless kindness and bravery–the medical workers who risked their lives and the lives of their family member to come to work wearing inadequate protective clothing, the transit workers who risked themselves to keep buses and subways running, the immigrant workers in the food industry who died of COVID at extremely high rates working in meat packing factories while the privileged hunkered down in their gated communities. Taken collectively, however, we did not perform heroically. In far too many ways we were a disgrace, although I suppose that a majority will manage to convince themselves that we were magnificent. Collective self delusion is a part of our heritage that we won’t give up easily.Reply30 RecommendShareFlagJLo commented 3 hours agoJJLoColorado3h ago

@Simon Li Love this point. And might I add, charters were originally intended to be hotbeds of educational innovation, with fewer mandates to restrict their methods. But the many charters near me are just parallel schools to the neighborhood schools–not different, not particularly innovative. But they do pay their administrators higher salaries and their teachers less. But I suppose this is a discussion for another day…In Reply to Simon Li29 RecommendShareFlagSarah commented 3 hours agoSSarahRaleigh, NC3h ago

The many opinions found here do not take to task the real problem of public education, including charter schools funded from public education budgets. Schools are vastly underfunded in most places in the US. We do not place a value on educating and caring for children. Our expectations are soooo high for public schools and teachers. Feed the hungry, accommodate for the ill and disabled, cure the behavior problems and put up with the helicopter parents are a few examples of these expectations outside of the learning environment. Then we claim that the results are not dependent on funding public schools with larger budgets.Reply29 RecommendShareFlagBen commented 2 hours agoBBenDallas, Tx2h ago

Your honesty revealed in this article is refreshing. This past year and a half was a total train wreck for our children.Reply28 RecommendShareFlagOld Ben commented 2 hours ago

Old Ben

Old BenChester County PA2h ago

OK, we had no logistical basis for doing mass education at the K-12 levels in Feb. 2019. Suddenly we tried to patch one together on the fly. At best it worked for some, but for others the author is right. Guess what: pandemic preparation is not just about vaccines and medical treatment. It is also about mass social adjustments, just like wars and natural or environmental catastrophes. This was not some voluntary experiment to see if Zoom learning could replace expensive school infrastructure. Almost 600,000 have died, and without lock-downs and mass adjustments for 15 months it could have been much worse. Many lost jobs. Some kids lost a year of school or more. Many were severely sick or lost family. We have been through an international disaster. In the USA the Covid wildfire is burning out. It is not time to cry about what didn’t work. It is time to work together to fix things, help each other, and reduce future vulnerabilities. And to get vaccinated if you have not already.Reply27 RecommendShareFlagC commented 3 hours agoCCNY3h ago

It has been decades since public schools were equitable. Some of this is because the women that used to go into teaching have other options, like law and engineering. And they are taking them. You have to go into a private school or a wealthy community that pays teachers very well to see what elite teaching looks like, from people with a passion for it. At my strong STEM university, the education majors, almost all women, were the ones who didn’t get into the competitive and demanding healthcare and science departments, not women whose passion was education. Maybe they fell in love with education later. Maybe not. But I CAN tell you that a large part of teaching is child and teen care, as the author bravely states. Not that many people want to do it. It is hard work. Not the kind of work everyone wants to do. And when parents won’t or cannot do a good job of childcare at home, it falls even harder on teachers.2 Replies26 RecommendShareFlagUncommon Wisdom commented 4 hours ago

Uncommon Wisdom

Uncommon WisdomWashington DC4h ago

Children learn to respect teachers and, yes, education, outside of school. It’s the parents who valorize learning–both in-school and at home. Castigating policymakers who correctly decided to lower the potential body count of students and teachers and remote teach is selfish. I really wouldn’t lay blame at the feet of the schools (who, after all, don’t have the kids’ attention for more than a few hours per year) or policy makers who have established charter schools catering to those parents that want more emphasis on academics for their kids. Teachers and “the gubmint,” aren’t to blame here: it’s the parents who devalue education at home. The parents who aren’t seen reading. The parents who don’t work along with their kids (work schedules of 40+ hours per week are no excuse). Parents who don’t demand much or set a good example for their kids can’t expect much from their own progeny.2 Replies25 RecommendShareFlagUnkle skippy commented 4 hours agoUUnkle skippyReality4h ago

@Josephina Sorry but the idea of revamping the education system in 3 months (July ’20 to Sept ’20) is utter non-sense. It doesn’t happen overnight. I make no claims about the quality of the ed system, but instead of reductive charges of archaism and status quo, how about pointed constructive suggestions?In Reply to Juliana James25 RecommendShareFlagGino Lombardo commented 4 hours agoGGino LombardoNE4h ago

This is exactly right. All the onus for a child’s education is now on the teacher and the school. Students and parents have been relieved of any responsibility. This is why are public schools are in the state they are today.In Reply to Gino Lombardo24 RecommendShareFlagQxTf commented 2 hours agoQQxTfNC2h ago

I feel that while yes no one was without complications in regards to school during a viral pandemic, I for one am just thankful we had children who stayed alive to have some form of life during a viral pandemic. Getting an education during this time was a bonus compared to any other alternative. Were there issues? Of course there were, we scrambled to adjust as we did every part of our lives. This article is in my opinion too critical of a time in our human history when all we could do was what we could and can to keep going.2 Replies24 RecommendShareFlagP Goodwin commented 2 hours agoPP GoodwinReno, NV2h ago

@charles this said nothing about raising teachers salaries. And as a university professor and someone who in the past trained tutors in college tutoring centers: no, any bright college student cannot just tutor a student without any training or understanding of education/learning process.In Reply to Peter23 RecommendShareFlagMalcolm commented 3 hours agoMMalcolmNYC3h ago

At this distance of time, it is easy to forget the risks that existed to the lives of teachers. Many teachers are themselves vulnerable to Covid, because of their age and other reasons, or have family members who are. Many uncertainties were present that are better understood now. And no, education is not as essential in the short term as food, emergency health care and basic security. Once enough teachers were vaccinated, which varied from region to region, then there was no reason not to reopen schools. But prior to that, many teachers obviously asked themselves “Why would I risk my life or the lives of my loved ones?’.1 Reply22 RecommendShareFlagShayne Davidson commented 1 hour agoSShayne DavidsonAnn Arbor, Michigan1h ago

My son, who is American, teaches English in public school in Japan. Except for about two weeks in March 2020, the schools in his prefecture—Iwate—were open as usual, as they were in most prefectures. How they managed was by requiring masks and social distancing. In Japan they only minimally heat and don’t cool the school buildings (people tolerate greater physical discomfort than we do in America), so they opened more windows to increase ventilation. Many in Japan do not have good internet access. This meant that school, which is viewed as extremely important, could not be paused or made virtual. If Americans wanted school prioritized during the pandemic, they should have done a better job of following public health guidelines. We could have made staying in the classroom work here, but selfishness ruled the day. It still does.Reply22 RecommendShareFlagTom Henning commented 45 minutes agoTTom HenningNew York44m agoTimes Pick

@Josephina With thousands dying every day, this was not the time for school reform. Everyone was focused on survival.5 Replies21 RecommendShareFlagScollingsworth commented 3 hours agoSScollingsworthNorth Adams, MA3h ago

Schools did what they needed to do to help keep the spread of this virus down as much as could happen when a third of the population and one of the two major political parties denied its existence. Kids got caught in the political quagmire of a bunch of adults who put politics ahead of the good of the people. Do I wish we’d have had a regular school year? Yes. Do I think we should have been teaching in person during a global pandemic with a broken political system that caused us to lose over 600,000 people to this? No. I have no doubt that lives were saved because of school closures. While politicians, Republicans in particular, were failing to act, schools personnel and school boards did act and lives were saved.Reply21 RecommendShareFlagSierra Morgan commented 4 hours agoSSierra MorganDallas4h ago

@Patagonia Schools were and still are one of the major contributors to SPREADING SARS-COV-2. Multiple studies with data from Michigan and several other states clearly showed that in person classes kept community transmission rates in double digits. It also has been shown that the children who did attend in person classes were more depressed, anxious, and less engaged due the constant threat of getting exposed and having to quarantine often within days of returning to the classroom from being quarantined. Schools should have closed and stayed closed until school aged kids get vaccinated. Kids cannot be in school without a chicken pox vaccine but it is perfectly fine to expose them to a highly infectious disease that leaves serious life-long damage. Schools are not babysitters.In Reply to Maria20 RecommendShareFlagseven.by.three commented 3 hours agoSseven.by.threeLA3h ago

@Bret. No doubt there are a bunch of problems, but the pandemic revealed how deep they run. It seems teachers were getting Covid at the same rate when ‘teaching’ remotely. Grocer’s were still grocerying. Nurses were nursing. It is all unfair. Some stepped up, teachers didn’t. Most of the public didn’t. The tragedy of the pandemic was the human failure it revealed. At least now we know. I’m not poking at teachers only, it was everybody and teachers don’t get out of sharing the blame.In Reply to Anonymous20 RecommendShareFlagAnonymous commented 2 hours agoAAnonymousLocation2h ago

I’m a nurse. When I went to work each day during the pandemic I dropped my small child off at a ymca where a crowded room full of kids languished on laptops doing “remote school”. Teachers are essential workers too— but they stayed home. The idea that you think teachers who stayed home are somehow heroic is literally incredible.In Reply to Diane’s20 RecommendShareFlagMike commented 4 hours agoMMikeDC4h ago

@Tom Henning I can personally confirm this in my experience teaching in-person since September 2020. A handful of our teachers got Covid; one somewhat serious in March–no hospitalization–and that person didn’t get the vaccine. From September to early February, before we had a chance to get a vaccine: we taught, kids learned in person, no one died.21 Replies19 RecommendShareFlagDavid commented 4 hours agoDDavidMassachusetts4h ago

The broken trust the author refers to relates primarily with parents and the teachers unions. The author asks why we didn’t move mountains to allow a return to in person learning, but in most cases the teachers unions were the ones resisting every attempt at changing logistics and policies to get kids back into schools. The teachers themselves did a tremendous job in whatever circumstances they had to deal with, and many teachers shared the same frustration with their union’s resistance to change. I am very pro-union, but the teachers union response to covid reminded me of police unions’ response to the accountability movement: unrepresentative of the their members, archaic, and inertial.3 Replies19 RecommendShareFlagAB commented 3 hours agoAABCanada3h ago

Our schools were open all year with no change in class size. This was possible because: 1) Everything else was closed. No restaurants, no gyms, no movies. At the worst points in the outbreak no non-essential stores at all. There was lots of grumbling, but general agreement that schools should be the last thing to close. 2) Our “normal” class sizes are much more reasonable than in most US cities – my kids attend public school, and the the largest class they were in ever was 24. For first grade, the standard class size here is 20 not 32. 3) While our schools are shamefully underfunded, our teachers were given masks for themselves AND their students (every person at school gets 2 per day), hand sanitizer, and gloves by the government. None of the NYC public school teachers I know had any confidence they would get basic supplies (which is after all, the norm in NYC – it is super common to not have soap in school bathrooms). 4) Most people accepted that some kids would get covid. We got letters all the time about cases in our kids’ schools. If it was their class, the class went remote for 2 weeks and a negative test was required to return. Otherwise, school went on. Both of my kids did 2 week quarantines, and everyone in the house was tested for covid at least once (most of us multiple times).1 Reply19 RecommendShareFlagAmy S commented 3 hours agoAAmy SBoston3h ago

@JLE I also quit after 15 years for largely the same reason. It is exhausting to have everyone and their mother telling you all the ways you failed in a year when you were trying to keep yourself and your family safe, while completely redesigning your curriculum and supporting your own students.In Reply to Amy S19 RecommendShareFlagDave C commented 3 hours agoDDave CNJ3h ago

For those who think private/Independent schools were much better, please think again. My son’s high school was terrible. They went straight for ‘tough love’ without the love. They completely missed: 1.) that adolescents learn from each other, 2.) Compassionate community and communications were required, and, 3.) That many kids were cracking. The whole thing was a nightmare and a developmental disaster for many in the 9th/10th grade age groups who are still developing stress coping mechanisms. Being on Zoom and then homework from 8am to 1am (rinse and repeat for an entire year, in isolation) is more than we demanded of adults. Infact, it was a form or torture. Shame, serious shame, on adults who should know better.1 Reply19 RecommendShareFlagPatricia commented 2 hours agoPPatriciaNew York2h ago

Thank you for this. I think it’s the most important op-ed since the pandemic began and speaks to American priorities pre-and post pandemic.Reply19 RecommendShareFlagAlex commented 2 hours agoAAlexUSA2h ago

My kid had straight As before online school and barely passed his junior year this year. He became depressed. He learned nothing. It was a struggle to get him out of bed in the morning. The hybrid model introduced the last month of school was essentially a study hall, but it helped a little. The author allows some kids may have done well online. Many more did not. I’m happy for you if your kiddo could—my nieces did ok, for instance, but plenty of kids fell apart. Schools are more essential than bars.In Reply to eclectico19 RecommendShareFlagJust one voice commented 3 hours agoJJust one voiceOhio3h ago

In a pandemic, our first obligation is to keep everyone safe until we fully understand the threat and have means to treat or prevent it. The initial move to virtual school was the right one. We didn’t execute on it effectively and did not provide enough support to families and schools/teachers to make it successful in many places. Unfortunately, time and time again, we fail to prioritize education and fund it in a manner that allows best in class outcomes for all children. Let’s learn what worked and what didn’t and move forward. By the way, unless we mandate vaccinations for children and educators in the fall, we will face rolling shutdowns due to hot spots all over the country. The need for virtual school will not go away – we must figure out how to make it better. We must have the courage to mandate vaccinations to keep children and families safe.Reply18 RecommendShareFlagTerry McKenna commented 2 hours ago

Terry McKenna

Terry McKennaDover, NJ2h ago

There is a frustrating quality to this persons rant. Yes online school did not work. But she acts as if those who frustrated her wishes were a foreign element but in fact is was also teachers themselves – as personified by their unions. And our elected officials – mayors, city councilmen et al. This was a very unusual event – one that is not over yet, by the way. I survived, so did my wife and son. That is most of all what I wanted.3 Replies18 RecommendShareFlagBret commented 2 hours agoBBretChicago2h ago

@seven.by.three Sorry but teachers did. They taught online as they were told to do–and yes, despite all the headlines, districts, not unions, kept teachers at home. But teachers still did their jobs. If other essential workers, like grocers, were told to stay home, you better believe they would have. If they had unions to fight for better working conditions, you better believe they would have. And, last thing I’ll say is this: it’s not criminal that we had online school. It’s criminal that in the richest country in the world we can’t make online school work when we need it. Until we address those real problems that have been here for decades and remain after the pandemic, enough with the bombast of how we failed our kids.In Reply to Anonymous19 RecommendShareFlagPatrick commented 1 hour agoPPatrickWisconsin1h ago

Teachers are essential. Schools are essential. And every other essential worker kept working during the pandemic. Our local school board had a virtual meeting earlier this year where they defended the decision to return to 100% in-person instruction, citing research showing that closing schools did essentially nothing to slow the spread. Hysterical parents and teachers called in, accusing the board of “sacrificing” teachers. The schools reopened, during the height of the pandemic, and there were practically no outbreaks at schools, or closings, after that. Science won. It wasn’t wrong to close the schools when we were still learning about COVID-19, but once we learned which measures worked (ventilation, masks, distance), and which didn’t (sanitizing, closing schools, injecting bleach), the schools should have been upgraded and reopened ASAP.2 Replies18 RecommendShareFlagGino Lombardo commented 4 hours agoGGino LombardoNE4h ago

It’s not just about money, it’s about goals. As long as the primary goal of public education is high standardized test scores, no amount of money will solve the problems we face as educators.In Reply to Irwin Saltzman17 RecommendShareFlagGino Lombardo commented 4 hours agoGGino LombardoNE4h ago

Here’s one: there’s too many standards, especially for elementary students. We know this is true because many states prioritized certain standards for this school year. However next year will be a return to status quo and we’ll go back to teaching too much in too short a time and expecting 9 year olds to master it all within 10 months.In Reply to Juliana James17 RecommendShareFlagDr. Zucker-Conde commented 4 hours ago

Dr. Zucker-Conde

Dr. Zucker-CondeMedford, Ma.4h ago

@Patagonia Even if many more teachers had died? I’m very grateful to have gotten the vaccine, and I would not have gone back to school without it. Protecting my life and my profession is also why I proudly support my union. I love teaching and the students and their families. I did my best remotely until it was safer to go back. And so did my students.In Reply to Maria17 RecommendShareFlagSteveRR commented 2 hours ago


SteveRRCA2h ago

Many schools did open and remain open for the critical in-person teaching. They had one thing in common – their teachers were no unionized. Union teachers and their unions cared more about squeezing district for concessions than actually teaching kids. And we wonder why charter schools are a god-send for so many poor families?3 Replies17 RecommendShareFlagHeath Hamrick commented 2 hours agoHHeath HamrickTexas2h ago

As a full time virtual educator in one of the top virtual education programs in the nation, iUniversity Prep, I take issue with the generality of this argument. Excellent virtual education is possible: we’ve done it for nine years now. Does it need to be the model for all education, everywhere? No, of course not. But does it need to be demonized in this way? Again, no, of course not. This teacher speaks the truth as far as they saw it, and I respect that, but it is not the absolute or universal last word. I am more than willing to talk to anyone, anywhere, about what good virtual education looks like and how schools can get there.1 Reply17 RecommendShareFlagConrad Noel commented 51 minutes agoCConrad NoelWashington, DC50m ago

@Ray And so you plan to vote for the grifters and clowns who twiddled their thumbs when the pandemic struck, who allowed 500,000 of their fellow citizens—including school-age children to die, and who for years turned a deaf ear to pleas to adequately fund public education? Schools without adequate ventilation, schools without adequate bathrooms, and families without adequate medical care or internet access: this is what the Republicans offered and continue to offer. Some cities and states stumbled badly in keeping schools closed too long. The children will recover. Those who died because of the cruelty and willful blindness of the former guy and his minions will never have that opportunity.In Reply to The Lorax17 RecommendShareFlagTom commented 1 hour agoTTomNew Orleans1h ago

Ok. I have a lot to say, so this is 1/2. I’m a virologist, and while I an educator at the graduate level, not experienced with K-12 (except as a student, class of 1982). I am however, a person with a long career in studying newly emerging viruses, including coronaviruses, and their impact on human health and national security. The current pandemic (it’s not over by any means) highlighted inequities in labor, education, healthcare, etc, and I am disappointed to see some comments indicting democrats or republicans at state and local levels for their decisions about K-12 education. Remote school was not a success, that is clear, but given what was known about SARS-COV2 and it’s transmission rate and potential for high morbidity and mortality led to most decisions about mass gatherings – including schools. While it is true that children are less susceptible to fatal outcome, there are also adults in the education system that are at risk of serious disease and large groups are the fuel to virus transmission leading to hospitalization, serious long term outcome or death in a significant number of those infected.2 Replies17 RecommendShareFlagLaura commented 4 hours agoLLauraChicago4h ago

@NYC TeacherDistricts could have been creative and flexible. For example, they could have offered tiered pay for teachers to choose online or in person, with those online earning a temporary cut in pay. Students were able to opt for either, and perhaps parents could have been provided stipends for staying home. Most of our students have stayed home, and many are floundering.In Reply to Hooli16 RecommendShareFlagPatrick Weidinger commented 4 hours agoPPatrick WeidingerLancaster PA4h ago

“I am still bewildered and horrified that our society walked away from this responsibility, that we called school inessential and left each family to fend for itself.” We walked away from parents, teachers and students…. We walked away from essential workers….. We walked away from healthcare workers….. And most of all, we walked away from the elderly….. And we made them “heroes” What does that make the rest of us?Reply16 RecommendShareFlagDavid commented 4 hours agoDDavidHenan4h ago

I live in China where very strict measures were taken, including the closing of primary schools for over two months (they were the first schools to reopen. Universities were virtual for the entire spring semester of 2020). The difference is that China has under 5,000 dead from the virus. The US has nearly 600,000. And that shocking number doesn’t seem to be a big deal to anyone.2 Replies16 RecommendShareFlagZak commented 4 hours agoZZakNj4h ago

As a progressive educator I was proud to run a school full time, in person, outdoors this year. If we had to be inside we had every window open, with fans installed in front of everyone to increase airflow. We had air purifiers, we disinfected everything, we kept small static groups, etc. And it worked! We stayed open from September till the last day of school last week. That being said I had a lot of flexibility with being a small independent school. Not all schools have this. I have always believed that educators should meet children where they are. As a parent too I know where a lot of our children are . . . They are in online worlds like Minecraft and Roblox. We should have tasked these games companies, who specialize in the art of keep our kids glued to the screen, to create special virtual school platforms within their virtual world that had classroom, field trips etc. Teacher would have special control over kids avatars to make sure the stayed “in class” and it would be a closed system with no outsiders able to enter the world. If done right students and teachers would have stayed safe and learned in a new and engaging way.Reply16 RecommendShareFlagLongTimeFirstTime commented 4 hours agoLLongTimeFirstTimeNew York City4h ago

Schools should have been open the whole time. That’s the mistake that caused all these problems. Letting teachers’ unions decide how to teach in a pandemic is like letting home owners tell firemen how to fight fires. It’s not what they know.Reply16 RecommendShareFlagDR commented 4 hours agoDDRMI4h ago

@JEH Local Boards of Education made decisions to open/close schools, not unions. We [teachers] were asked for input (sometimes,) but ultimately the decision rested with local elected representatives. Our schools tried hybrid, remote, and full-time in-person with sometimes up to 40% of students out with Covid or on quarantine (a higher percentage triggered remote learning for a week.) Nothing was ideal, but none of it was decided by unions. The real culprit was a lack of guidance from the Federal government and the lack of a cohesive strategy to address these issues, which magnified and shed a light on the effects of poverty on families and children. Perhaps looking to solutions instead of blaming teachers would be a more productive approach to the whole situation.In Reply to JEH16 RecommendShareFlagVal Bayley commented 4 hours agoVVal BayleyMassachusetts3h ago

This essay is a rare admission of the truth. Science was not followed when it came to public schools and the long term effects will be devasting for many students and the nation’s ability to compete in any STEM-related field. Teaching should be considered essential, but sadly, union leadership profoundly disgraced itself. Thank you to the private and parochial school teachers who persevered.Reply16 RecommendShareFlagSchultzie commented 3 hours agoSSchultzieBrooklyn3h ago

Thank you for this. My child is heading into his last week of in-person, full time kindergarten at a local Catholic school. It went far better than we dared to hope. My partner and I are so thankful for the teachers and staff who showed up for the students and families all this year. We have signed up for the same school next year having decided we cannot trust the public schools anymore to do their job.2 Replies16 RecommendShareFlagDavid Stevens commented 3 hours agoDDavid StevensUtah3h ago

I’ve read quite of few of these comments and, though well meaning, seem to be hindsight naval gazing. As far as I could tell, collectively we didn’t actually know what the right thing to do was because we never thought about it. Just like when the previous administration threw away the pandemic contingency plans and had pulled our observers from the Wuhan lab, we have had our collective heads in the sand for decades. There seems to be no problem that we can’t make worse as a society. If reopening schools in Miami last fall seemed to work, I’d say think about the fact that Miami is always warm and being outside during the school year is normal and safer than, say, Minnesota where that’s not possible. We have been through several pandemics in the past century + and we should know how to manage it. We don’t, to our shame, and now we’ve lost 600,000 (maybe 1 million) of our family, friends, neighbors, and strangers as a result. All the while, our ‘leaders’ pat themselves on the back when they find someone else to blame, when they should resign in disgrace. As for those in the private sector who cashed in during the past 18 months, you could show your gratitude by using your political clout to demand that next time (there will be many next times) we are prepared.1 Reply16 RecommendShareFlagZenShkspr commented 2 hours ago


ZenShksprMidwesterner2h ago

@NYC Teacher what I get from the article is, risks were simply shifted to those poorer, not eliminated, and safe (or at least safer) teaching options were being quickly arranged, but without the usual equalizing help of public school access. The class divide was staggering. we should have moved mountains as a society to offer better options for everyone, not just those who could afford it: repurposed buildings and outdoor spaces to prioritize in person learning, emergency hires for teaching assistants for smaller class size, meaningful alternative day care for those who couldn’t work from home (especially those we called essential workers), money for HVAC upgrades. As a teacher as well, I agree with the author. I craved creative solutions that would let me work outside, for example. We say we value equal access to public education, but our country and many communities were unwilling to put our money where our mouth is.21 Replies16 RecommendShareFlagNorth Carolina commented 58 minutes agoNNorth CarolinaNorth Carolina57m ago

This is America, you’re on your own. That’s the theme and model for so much here, perpetrated by the wealthy class who seek a pliable labor force always at the edge of real poverty, the political class who do the bidding of the uber rich, the middle class who accept this form of governance, and the poor who endure. This was on full display in the classrooms, in the slaughterhouses and in the hospitals during the pandemic. We are a cruel country and you are on your own. And it ain’t changing anytime soon.Reply16 RecommendShareFlagWorking Mama commented 2 hours agoWWorking MamaNew York City2h ago

@Gino Lombardo What, you say that kids who have access to decent, working devices, quality internet connection, and parents with the luxury of being stay-home to supervise all day are an easier teach and “more fun” than kids whose families have fewer resources? Do tell.In Reply to M16 RecommendShareFlagJen commented 1 hour agoJJenBoston1h ago

Think back to the beginning of the pandemic. No one knew how it spread, just that everyone was getting really sick and many were dying. Everything had to close. I have no doubt that the administrators in charge did the best they could in managing it. Some are better equipped then others in terms of funding, abilities and complexity of their districts. I spent a lot of Zoom time with 2 women that are educators in diverse districts last year. Both became overworked, overstressed nearing the breaking point, lots of tears. They had to learn many new technologies, new ways of teaching to get kids to participate actively, creative assignments that were somewhat ‘cheat proof’. Their classroom time doubled because the classes had to be cut in half to fit on the zoom screen, their prep time doubled, their grading time tripled. And then they were called lazy by parents at the school committee meetings – since their kid was in school less, that must mean that the teachers weren’t working either. They taught kids online, many kids just showing the tops of their heads reflecting the blue screens of their video games. Sometimes they taught in the classroom with the kids behind plexiglass shields, having to sanitize the room between classes and *very* fearful of contracting Covid *all the time*, and bringing it home to their families. Sometimes they taught both at the same time. This year was awful. We all suffered, many of us died. No one will be the same.Reply16 RecommendShareFlagLaurie Hanin commented 4 hours agoLLaurie HaninNYC4h ago

Great piece. The author is clearly a committed, wonderful teacher. Any child would do well to have a teacher such as him.Reply15 RecommendShareFlagMike commented 4 hours agoMMikeDC4h ago

This is a heart-wrenching, beautiful, saddening essay. Ms. Almagor has my prayers and awe for her commitment to her students. My private school in DC opened for in-person instruction in September! With tents, etc. I think we need to reexamine teacher unions and hold them accountable for putting teachers before the children they teach. That said, schools, and teachers like Almagor, are essential.2 Replies15 RecommendShareFlagKb commented 3 hours agoKKbCa3h ago

@Mike I’m a retired teacher and union member. Initially, teachers were as terrified as everyone else. At my school there were plenty of teachers over 60, and many substitutes are retired teachers. One of the substitutes I used was 69. The community I taught in was poor, and the likelihood of retooling the HVAC system was nil—half the time it didn’t work at all. Also, teachers do not enter monasteries and nunneries when they get their credentials—they have children too and were confronted with the same childcare problems as everyone else. Yes, teachers are essential workers, but they work in small, sometimes airless rooms, and in my case, 40 students to a class. Social distancing would be impossible. Keeping masks on seniors? It would have been an endless battle, considering the conservative district I worked in. I have had some mixed feelings about some unions refusing to return after vaccines were available,like Oregon, where teachers were at the front of the line for shots. But despite some problems, unions work. Imagine how many lives would have been saved if those essential workers in slaughter houses and meat packing plants had been protected by a union. ( Sorry if this comment sounds like I’m rambling.)In Reply to Claudia15 RecommendShareFlagDave C commented 2 hours agoDDave CNJ2h ago

@Gino Lombardo As a parent I can safely say that many of us prioritized the development and mental health of our kids (human beings) over the so-called Zoom education. Please do not lay broad blame on parents. Education is about way more than detached Zoom classes.In Reply to M15 RecommendShareFlagKate commented 2 hours agoKKateRI2h ago

@SteveRR In RI most public schools reopened in the fall – my kids went back full time by the beginning of October. They are in public school and the teachers have a very strong union who made it work. It comes down to the community making it’s priorities known and providing support and direction to the school’s decision makers. I credit our then Governor, now Secretary of Commerce, for recognizing the importance of in person school.In Reply to Katie Taber15 RecommendShareFlagKosovo commented 2 hours agoKKosovoUSA2h ago

I disagree with the tone of the writer. It was an unprecedented situation. Crowded schools spread respiratory disease, it’s a medical fact. It was tough, challenging, disheartening and arduous. Everyone was challenged in so many ways. And yet, I learned. My child learned. We mastered tech platforms we’d never even heard of before the pandemic. We adjusted, we overcame, we adapted. We survived. Far from an intellectual desert, the past year has forced us to learn new things and learn them quickly, and that is a good thing. We learned as a society how to deal with a serious medical emergency, and now we can deal with the next one in a more informed manner. Each of us, as individuals should examine ourselves. Did we do our best and rise to the occasion, or did we collapse and wallow in self pity, poor me? I don’t deny that millions had a hard time, but how we dealt with that adversity – mentally, physically, spiritually – was a major factor in surviving it.2 Replies15 RecommendShareFlagJennifer Morgan commented 1 hour agoJJennifer MorganSan Francisco1h ago

The breaking of the back of our public education system and the generational and social justice consequences of this, lie squarely on the shoulders of our teachers unions and their member teachers. We had the data. We knew how to. We could have gone back. Others did. Finally, a teacher with a conscience willing to call this out but it’s too late. The damage has been done.1 Reply15 RecommendShareFlagLori commented 1 hour agoLLoriQueens1h ago

At the other side of the almost year and a half shut down I can say one thing for sure. Our school community is alive. A significant number of student’s family member are not. I teach in Western Queens where the pandemic’s impact was huge. Was remote learning ideal? Absolutely not. But I will speak only to my experience. I spent hours every day reaching out, by computer, phone and whatever it took to find and teach students. Some were not well suited for online learning but the system gave them computers with data plans- and I continued to do what I could to teach them- even at odd times of the day when the noise in their lives abated. If they learned nothing else, at least in our community, they learned that someone remembered they were alive, and tried to contact them every school day. Some found unexpected silver linings- I could spend extra time at the end of the day working with students in need, not worrying that they would be forced to leave the school and navigate the way home alone. One student with school anxiety, happily joined the video classroom everyday comforted by being surrounded by her own environment. Technology was at our fingertips- online images, videos and faraway guest speakers were far easier to present than in a physical classroom. Yes I too believe that nothing can replace in person learning but to describe more than a year’s worth of valiant effort by many educators as a disgrace is ridiculous.1 Reply15 RecommendShareFlagjbsea commented 21 minutes agoJjbseausa21m ago

I work in a Catholic school. Teachers, staff and parents volunteered our time last summer to prepare to keep our school safe. It was a massive job: how to use the space we have (recruited every available space for extra classrooms), how to staff (smaller classes, more teachers); how to cohort so that when there was a case, the whole school wouldn’t shut down, how to manage lunch for 500 kids without cramming them into a cafeteria where they are cheek by jowl, how to get them into and out of the building using every available door, so that they aren’t massed together, assigning staff to screen at every door as kids come in, developing and educating parents on protocols, contact tracing, controlling who comes into the building, rescheduling the entire day to minimize hallway crowding, playground crowding, etc, and most importantly, calculating classroom air exchange rates and buying window inserts where windows accommodated such, and adding HEPA units where they didn’t. Herculean effort. Public schools got zero support to do this work. We are a well-resourced Catholic school with parent who are engineers and epidemiologists. We pulled it off. Betsy DeVos’ big plan, and the plan of the federal government of the richest nation on earth, was to order schools to open with not one bit of help in doing so safely. This has been an epic disaster thanks to criminal mismanagement at the federal level. 600,000 dead and counting. Focus on who’s really responsible for this disaster.1 Reply15 RecommendShareFlagStephen commented 4 hours agoSStephenWisconsin4h ago

@April Designing and retrofitting functioning ventilation systems in tens of thousands of schools around the country would take many years to accomplish and billions of dollars.In Reply to April14 RecommendShareFlagLil50 commented 4 hours agoLLil50NOLA4h ago

It wasn’t perfect. However, it could have been a lot worse. Kids ARE resilient. We made it through the year and now we just have to move on. For plenty of kids, that year they went to class in their pajamas will be a great memory. Better than that year several teachers at their school died during a pandemic I’d think.Reply14 RecommendShareFlagHT commented 4 hours agoHHTOhio4h ago

@Patagonia It’s easy to say, in retrospect, that the schools should have been “the last to closed.” Last March, when the schools closed, we didn’t know how COVID spread, or that children were least likely to be severely effected by it. We didn’t know that it doesn’t survive for long on surfaces. People were wondering how to sterilize the mail and panic-buying toilet paper and pasta. A good case can be made for opening them sooner. But closing them in March made sense.In Reply to Maria14 RecommendShareFlagDale M commented 3 hours agoDDale MFayetteville, AR3h ago

Public schools have learned a hard lesson that public universities continue to deny. Despite the experience that online is indeed lousy, now confirmed by many millions of students and teachers over the last year, a large number of colleges continue to implement online degrees in the interest of enrollment and revenue. In fact it’s seen (sold) as “cutting edge” and an exciting use of technology. It’s not.Reply14 RecommendShareFlagSB commented 5 hours ago


SBMass5h ago

“ I can’t help thinking that’s because we broke their trust.” My trust was certainly broken. After watching our public schools deal with Covid-19, we decided to keep our child in private Montessori for Kindergarten. We had to make a decision when classes were still remote in March 2021 and the teachers union refused to return to the negotiating table about a return to in-person school. But many families also understand and would have preferred to have the ability to work remotely and keep their families safe too. I don’t begrudge workers who were able to do so. And at the same time, we have to work and needed to know our child would get the learning, care and supervision (yes, childcare!) that this author describes.1 Reply13 RecommendShareFlagAdam K commented 4 hours agoAAdam KSan Francisco4h ago

Thank you. I hope we all learned that the kids need to be together to learn and grow; that parents need them to be together to work and provide (and be good parents); and that our society needs them together to be healthy and united. This year was a disaster; let’s acknowledge that and never repeat it.Reply13 RecommendShareFlagDavid commented 4 hours agoDDavidBerkeley4h ago

How wonderful.to see the truth about pandemic schooling (for a change) in a NYT headline: “It was a disgrace.” The author nails the indictment of school leadership to a “T.” 1. Video education is an oxymoron 2. The main purpose of schooling is socialization – followed by teaching children how to learn 3. The failure to creatively respond to our nation’s children during the pandemic was the singular most tragic error committed by adults (who should no better) There is a little used term I came across not that long ago that captures the essence of our nation’s response to the plight of children during the pandemic. The term is “childism.” Childism is a word like racism or sexism. Societies select categories of people to view and treat as inferior. There is no doubt in my mind that our society subjects children, on average, to treatment less kind than the treatment we lavish on our pet dogs and cats. The damage done to the innocent psyches of our children during the pandemic in the name of education will have long lasting effects that will ripple through every aspect of our society for generations. My suggestion from the start: Close all schools for the duration of the pandemic and replace them with state-of-the-art childcare for every American child. We ought to stop kidding ourselves: no one learned much of anything in school during the pandemic.1 Reply13 RecommendShareFlagMe commented 4 hours agoMMeMiami4h ago

This article is a testament to a cut and run failure of the teachers union this last year. It proved what we all already knew. It’s never about the kids, it’s only about dues and salary. If you got into teaching to get rich, we’ll, you picked the working profession. Amazing that teachers, of all people, didn’t know that.Reply13 RecommendShareFlagThrill is Gone commented 2 hours ago

Thrill is Gone

Thrill is GoneColumbus2h ago

In the early 80s, Big Tech sold the fantasy that education would be saved, that tech would democratize the world…and many educators and schools drank from that well. It was a cruel joke. Like the NRA wanting to see guns sold and in every home, Big Tech wanted to see computers in every room. I’m a teacher. Try teaching a hands on engaging group science project online…or a kindergartner, who should be learning through play with objects like sand, water, plants, etc…vs stare at a screen (but why not, adults walk around staring at their iPhones looking like zombies in a trance). But don’t mind me, I guess I’m out of step. I don’t have any Facebook friends, but I do have few real ones.Reply13 RecommendShareFlagTara commented 2 hours agoTTaraMI2h ago

This article, though well meant, misses a bunch of points. The school system wasn’t designed with a massive, media-appropriate, backup curriculum built for in-person leaning. If that existed, true, only the very rich would have access to it. The live classroom does ‘flatten out’ some of the social-class differences found in an urban school. You’ve pointed out that the ‘rich’ kids tended to find these costly alternatives; that’s scarcely a ‘disgrace’. The school board isn’t at fault; go find the Covid virus and have a chat with it.Reply13 RecommendShareFlagjb commented 2 hours agoJjbok2h ago

@Mike , it’s not just about teachers, much less where you happened to be. I had students taking the virus home on weekends and holidays. One young man’s dad was sickened to the point of ventilation to my knowledge—and our university was certainly not letting anyone talk about it.21 Replies13 RecommendShareFlagNell commented 2 hours agoNNellCT2h ago

As a 58-year-old college instructor, I think that we older American educators assumed that young people, even little children, were so comfortable with social media and communicating with everyone through their smart phones that they would breeze through online classes with no problems. I certainly would have thought so, given how my college students can’t seem to put their phone down in class and all the children of friends and relatives that I saw at family dinners and parties pre-lockdown spent them slumped on the sofa absorbed in their cell phones. If the experience revealed by this writer is the norm, boy, were we wrong to assume that online learning would be a breeze. It may have been for a lot of socio-economic reasons (poverty, inequality, the challenge of parents trying to work and home-school with no childcare) but maybe it was also do to the fact that our children are not the resilient tech geeks that we thought they were. They were still going through the normal mood-swings and insecurities that all kids have in normal times while having to cope with a frightening pandemic and never seeing their friends in person. As much as they may have said “I hate school” before the pandemic, in-person school may have given them some structure, discipline, and even escape from difficult home situations. Even many of my young adult college students couldn’t cope and disappeared. For the next pandemic, PLEASE let’s plan on somehow keeping schools and colleges open.1 Reply13 RecommendShareFlagH Silk commented 1 hour agoHH SilkMurfreesboro,TN1h ago

@NYC Teacher I have a lot of respect for the teaching profession but absolutely zero respect for the fact that so many schools were closed last year. There was absolutely no need.21 Replies13 RecommendShareFlagdap commented 1 hour agoDdapSan Marino, CA1h ago

What’s the point? The teachers should have stayed in schools and died, like meat plant workers? Poultry processing plants should have used fewer workers at any given time and increased the numbers of shifts. The money was not there for school improvements and the time scale for the needed improvements is not short for old schools. It is obvious that remote learning was a challenge and is more of a challenge if each child at home does not have her/his own computer. There are obvious inequities. In 5th and 2nd grade, for our two children, we went to Paris on a sabbatical. We taught our kids what they needed to learn. They were ahead of their classmates when we got back. The pandemic has been hard on everybody, incl. the 600,000 dead. This article offered no solutions, just venting.3 Replies13 RecommendShareFlagSMB commented 1 hour agoSSMBSavannah1h ago

@NYC Teacher You know, it’s like 600,000 people never died. We don’t know how much higher the death toll would have been if students and teachers were forced back into crowded classrooms and school hallways at the height of the epidemic with no vaccine and no improved ventilation. I would never have gone into education if this level of hatred and contempt and venom for teachers had been evident. Every teacher I know is absolutely dedicated and worked much longer hours in difficult conditions as they had to turn parts of their homes into Zoom classrooms.21 Replies13 RecommendShareFlagJEH commented 4 hours agoJJEHNYC4h ago

I think to blame “policy makers” is perhaps a bit misguided. Clearly the biggest obstructionist to in- person teaching was the teachers union . Somehow teachers are only essential when they feel like it and want more money.1 Reply12 RecommendShareFlagMike commented 3 hours agoMMikeNJ3h ago

At this point I’m sick of reading about, hearing about, or thinking about parents who never expected parenthood to be difficult. Same goes for adults who work with children.1 Reply12 RecommendShareFlagJill commented 3 hours agoJJillNJ3h ago

This horrible school year has ended. It’s time to look toward fully reopening in September. We need to start planning for what a full time return is going to be like. Students have lost the ability to self regulate in crowds, socialize appropriately, and adhere to the structure of the school day. We are going to have a really difficult year ahead if we don’t tackle the basics first.1 Reply12 RecommendShareFlageclectico commented 2 hours agoEeclectico74502h ago

I think you need to be very careful here, in including all children under one name. Yes, some (many?) children suffered greatly under zoom classes, but probably some (many ?) children, those who learn independently, suffered little. Trying to combat the epidemic circumstances by a system that includes all children was a huge mistake, the system needed to focus on only those who were suffering, e.g. those, as you put it, under siege from their toddler siblings.2 Replies12 RecommendShareFlagMarion Francoz commented 2 hours agoMMarion FrancozSan Francisco2h ago

@Terry McKenna: I for one was happy that my union was concerned by the health and well being of teachers and his or her students. Most schools and classrooms especially in inner city schools are in a dilapidated state without adequate air circulation, hand washing facilities. and substandard cleaning- especially in bathroom areas. Teachers needed to be vaccinated to avoid Covid spread amongst the children and often had to wait their turn for the vaccine. Unions lobbied for these safety measures and children will soon returning to school safely.In Reply to Kathleen12 RecommendShareFlagWendy Abrahamson commented 1 hour agoWWendy AbrahamsonGrinnell1h ago

In an unprecedented and scary year with no roadmap I think schools and parents were doing their best, as was everyone in every realm. No one knew what to do about kids and school. I know personally people who were infected and made sick by COVID when it was brought home by their kids. So what to do? Staying open was horrible, closing was horrible, zoom was not top notch (though I also know some kids who did better with zoom than in-person school, specifically kids with anxiety). Was anything perfect or even mostly ok? No. Was some of it awful? Yes. Do we need to look at how schools are funded? Absolutely, the current system is inequitable and sufferers the whim of legislators and people who want low property taxes or who oppose school bonds, or who want to fund charter schools with public money. But given the circumstances, everyone was amazing, parents and teachers and students.Reply12 RecommendShareFlagEric commented 1 hour agoEEricNew York1h ago

The key sentence is this: “… our society walked away from this responsibility, … we called school inessential and left each family to fend for itself.” This was due to the Republican ethos that has dominated American culture for the past 40 years. Government isn’t there to help people, it’s every man, woman and child for him or her self. “More of our public school systems should have likewise moved mountains — repurposed buildings, reassigned staff, redesigned programming, reallocated funding — to offer consistent public schooling, as safely as possible, to all children.” Teachers were – rightly – scared to return to schools. They should have been given a choice, even after mountains were moved to make classrooms safe. But no, not here in American (not) the greatest country on earth.Reply12 RecommendShareFlagLeontion commented 1 hour agoLLeontionAlabama1h ago

Beautiful piece! The aspect I think deserves attention is that although as a healthcare worker, I knew from the beginning my job had potentially life-threatening risks from a pandemic, so far as I know, teachers have not signed on for that kind of risk. Especially early on, it was unclear how much risk they were in. I had to wear the same N95 mask while kids with Covid19 coughed in my face for 2 months per mask– but at least I could get one. Teachers had no real PPE. So I would just add that it was totally legit for my teacher friends to be scared, and given our near total lack of preparedness for protecting them, there was likely no good way to respond. Everything rests on adequate preparedness. We need to include teachers in our PPE stockpiles… and have real stockpiles. It’s also reasonable to start telling people who enter a teaching career that risk of death from a pandemic (along with risk of death from a shooting) is part of the career. But then do everything reasonable to mitigate the severity of that risk. Treat our teachers like they matter.Reply12 RecommendShareFlagHenry commented 4 hours agoHHenryUSA4h ago

Policy decisions are often dictated by priorities and priorities are often dictated by resources. Just think what we could do if American billionaires and Fortune-500 companies actually paid taxes…Reply11 RecommendShareFlagTom Henning commented 4 hours agoTTom HenningNew York4h ago

25 year veteran NYC teacher here: the pandemic has reveled how little teachers know about what their students learn in their classrooms. They think it’s the curriculum! At every level K to 12, children are (normally) learning far more that the teacher consciously presents. All that was missing for over a year, and this fall when we are actually teaching again we will all start to see the effects of this year that kept extremely teachers safe but devastated kids nationwide.Reply11 RecommendShareFlagYo commented 4 hours agoYYoAlexandria, VA4h ago

What most Americans (probably most people) lack is basic human decency. It’s not a question of right or left but of honesty and priority. Whether Capitalist or Socialist or something in between, any society can demand honesty from its members and prioritize helping people in need. But people lie to themselves and say “I’m a good person” while maximizing their own benefits at the expense of those with less. And society applauds this lack of basic decency.Reply11 RecommendShareFlagNYC Teacher commented 3 hours agoNNYC TeacherNYC3h ago

@Bret agreed. The fact that we’re rushing to return to class sizes that proved unworkable for the most vulnerable students pre-pandemic shows that the real priority here is not students, but rather an interest in publishing rage-bait to increase traffic on news sites.In Reply to Anonymous12 RecommendShareFlagIris commented 3 hours agoIIrisVirginia3h ago

The issue is really about day care, isn’t it? Teachers are professionals held to high educational standards and should be paid as such. You wouldn’t ask your lawyer or your pharmacist to supervise your kids while you work. With all our technology, our society should be able to prepare a model for online education that works. Try Khan Academy. Why do we need to have fleets of buses, buildings that need to be cooled/heated, particularly during climate crisis. That model is based on the factory model of the 19th century. Droves of teachers are leaving the profession after the pandemic. Good luck finding their replacements. I’ve left and my grown children can’t afford to become teachers.1 Reply11 RecommendShareFlagSchultzie commented 2 hours agoSSchultzieBrooklyn2h ago

@Simon Li as a child of a public school teacher and a product of public schools, I wanted the same for my children and looked down my nose at private and charter schools. However this year has completely changed my opinion. Here in NYC I finally see how charter schools are a lifeline for families in neighborhoods with awful schools held hostage by a massive bureaucracy and too powerful teacher and staff unions. Until we can achieve meaningful reform on those fronts charter schools will be here to stay.In Reply to Simon Li11 RecommendShareFlagKathy Irwin commented 2 hours agoKKathy IrwinHouston2h ago

Thanks for telling the truth as you lived it. There are other educator stories and they are far worse than what we read here. We The People were not prepared for the COVID-19 outbreak. The manipulated Pandemic was destructive and deliberate. There is no hidden curriculum. What you see is what you get and is by design. Our year is the direct result of what we do and don’t value.Reply11 RecommendShareFlagLass mich in Ruhe commented 2 hours agoLLass mich in RuheNew York, NY2h ago

This sentence perplexed me: “But I am profoundly relieved that most districts, including my own, plan to shut down or restrict the online option.” Wouldn’t face-to-face instruction obviously win out over remote instruction if the disadvantages of remote are so universal and so extreme? Why are you seemingly so anxious about districts’ even offering remote instruction as an option? To be fair, you do suggest that remote schooling might have worked for some. In fact, my high school students did well, and a fair number of them positively thrived. I’m not anxious to stay remote forever, but I do see the benefits for those students for whom the remote mode worked, along with those who are immunocompromised, for example. I’m suspicious of education observers (and practitioners) whose animus for the new seems greater even than their enthusiasm for the status quo.2 Replies11 RecommendShareFlagPundit commented 2 hours agoPPunditWashington2h ago

“With schools closed, the health risks and child care hours didn’t disappear. They simply shifted from well-educated, unionized, tax-funded professional teachers to hourly-wage, no-benefit workers serving only those who could afford to pay.” A brave piece and a remarkable indictment of Unions for the damage inflicted on children and working parents.Reply11 RecommendShareFlagAEB commented 1 hour agoAAEBNyc1h ago

@NYCTeacher I don’t think what you are saying is true, and I believe a lot of other people in this country have come to doubt the narrative put forth by teachers and their unions.21 Replies11 RecommendShareFlagSeason commented 1 hour agoSSeasonMichigan1h ago

@AEB There were plenty of advice from the medical community for people to stay home, especially early in the pandemic. This was to minimize the spread of COVID and schools are petri dishes of germs. Overall the teaching profession isn’t filled with people in their 20s and 30s and the average age of educators in the US is 42.2 years (this data is from 2011-2012 so I am going to make the conjecture that the mean age is slightly higher). While this wasn’t the age that was initially hit the hardest in the beginning, there was still the very legitimate concern about kids taking the virus home to grandparents, older parents, family members who were immuno-vulnerable, and others whose chronic health issues put them at greater risk. Since education can be done remotely (look at the number of online academies, etc… that are available), it made sense to have school go remote. While other posters are stating that there wasn’t a huge number of teachers who caught COVID and/or passed away from the virus, it did help to not put as much strain on the medical system. While it wasn’t ideal, my child who is a 3rd grader, did just fine online. I am an engineer and have been able to work remotely (I find it richly ironic so many people seem to have a problem with educators working remotely, but not other professions doing the same). The educators did a wonderful job despite having to pivot on a dime.21 Replies11 RecommendShareFlagfrancine lamb commented 58 minutes agoFfrancine lambCA57m ago

@David Gregory There is no secret about how to teach “a” child, but teaching 30 children in a classroom with or without aides? That takes pedagogical techniques, experience and dedication. If you can do it, however, you should.In Reply to David Gregory11 RecommendShareFlagclarifier commented 49 minutes agoCclarifierAZ48m ago

I am the parent of three kids who all attend or attended public school. I am, philosophically, a big supporter of public school. The remote learning that the author complains about was of course imperfect; it was an improvised workaround to a deadly pandemic. A workaround that was developed on the fly when very little was known about the virus, how it spread, how to treat it, and thousands were dying each week. Of course the workaround was not as good as “normal” school. Obviously it was a huge disruption to established routines. Obviously it was a loss for those caught up in it. And of course those with the means to do better for their kids, did so. Did improvised remote learning create that inequality? Of course not. It just provided one more illustration. With a deadly global pandemic raging, it was only prudent not to pack hundreds of kids, half with runny noses, into classrooms and buses for hours each day, and then send them home to infect their family members as well. My two older kids each lost a year and a half of the in-person college experience they worked so hard to attain. My HS son never went to school for his entire freshman year. All of that is a darn shame, but all three of them are resigned to it; they, who experienced the loss, realize this was/is an unprecedented situation and their bad luck. But we are all still here, which tragically, many families cannot say. Also, BTW, the regular public in-person school is not that great either.Reply11 RecommendShareFlagMatt commented 5 hours agoMMattMiami5h ago

Local government policies and politics have a lot to do with remote education over the last year. Miami public schools opened last fall.Reply10 RecommendShareFlagMDargan commented 4 hours agoMMDarganNYC4h ago

Last fall, 4 of my nieces and nephews (ages 10-13) spent time in our home. From my observations, these children were failed by the public education system long before online learning. The public education system is a mess on and offline.Reply10 RecommendShareFlagJoseph Conlon commented 58 minutes agoJJoseph ConlonWashington DC57m ago

The Times reports this morning that 600,000 people have passed from covid in the US. I am confident that this sad number would have been significantly higher, if the majority of the public schools had not transitioned to some type of virtual learning during a PANDEMIC.2 Replies10 RecommendShareFlagDr. Zucker-Conde commented 4 hours ago

Dr. Zucker-Conde

Dr. Zucker-CondeMedford, Ma.4h ago

Not all schools are the same. Some schools provided an entire day on Zoom until they learned that that was too much screen time for children in particular. Some schools also provided offline related and unrelated work, which also was often too much. for students in K-3, parents were needed to get kids onto Zoom and to help throughout the day. Some parents stayed for lesson out of desire or anxiety and sometimes tried to over-help. Others fairly neglected kids who kept their screens off or played video games on other devices during their lessons. It wasn’t ideal for many students. But then, school itself, is often less than ideal for many students. Some students thrived in online school, escaped bullying, got a lot of attention with little distraction, and read and worked more than they ever have. This is not the majority, but then, the majority of students are not intrinsically motivated. School does serve a socialization process, but why not question the childcare premise? Do I really need a Doctoral degree or a Master’s Degree to provide childcare? If so, ought we not pay our childcare workers a lot more? One good thing to come out this horrible pandemic that killed over 600,000 Americans and traumatized many families should be to question old assumptions. Do we really need annual testing when we already know that poorer children, ELLs, and Special Needs children will be behind? Why? Or do we need childcare?Reply10 RecommendShareFlagMaria commented 4 hours agoMMariaNJ3h ago

@DC It’s tempting to pin everything on Trump, but that’s intellectually dishonest, and prevents us actually doing anything Trump, muted as he is now, actually promoted “his” vaccine – and he should be given credit when credit is due for the developing the vaccine -it’s hard to deny that Warp Speed was real and did have an effect. Where I live the biggest under-vaccinated group is minority (yes, in hospitals too) – what are we going to do about it?In Reply to Glacis10 RecommendShareFlagseven.by.three commented 3 hours agoSseven.by.threeLA3h ago

@David I disagree, although the unions played a big role, the general public did as well. They pushed decision makers to prioritize restaurants and gyms at the expense of schools. It was an overall failure of humanity across the board. Getting old people into living life was the highest priority everywhere while kids suffered. For all the ‘we are all in this together’, this pandemic should remind everyone that you are on your own.In Reply to Karl Dziura10 RecommendShareFlagJLo commented 3 hours agoJJLoColorado3h ago

@Ccc At my wealthy, suburban district, we were in a hybrid model most of the year. Our conservative populace clamored for full, in-person learning. When we finally switched back to “normal” in March (once adult staff was vaccinated), the number of students who chose to stay home to avoid quarantine due to athletics, the school play, prom, or other dubious reasons was disheartening. It became evident what folks really cared about, and it wasn’t academics.In Reply to Sierra Morgan10 RecommendShareFlagDC commented 3 hours agoDDCMaine3h ago

@Maria The short answer is more information and hammering home the link between low infection rate and high vaccination rates (and the ability of those states to fully function as a result of following science). President Biden IS doing (masterful) things but the damage to the public’s knowledge of the danger of Covid – and protocol around it – has largely been done, so he’s playing catch-up in many ways and it’s very hard to turn back a tide of misinformation. Of course I agree that there was a great deal of misinformation and anti-vaxx movement pre-Trump but the Trump admin inflamed and amplified these pernicious lies and caused perhaps hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths with his own cavalier attitude toward Covid (witness the hordes of unmasked supporters at his rallies).In Reply to Glacis10 RecommendShareFlagseven.by.three commented 3 hours agoSseven.by.threeLA3h ago

One of the significant problems the pandemic had, which also enables the politicization of our governing was equity. In California, equity and union rules were used as the excuse for not leveraging year round weather and pragmatic pandemic planning for areas that were possible (e.g. outdoor schooling). This had the consequence of making sure all communities were taught to the lowest standards and also drives rational people to the likes of Trump and GOP. Rather than equitizing down, the response should be to equitize up and funnel public money to areas that need to be raised, and let better communities leverage unfair benefits. California in particular could have done this due to the state funding framework of the public school system. Lost opportunity that will lead to more inequality. Teachers and administrators did more harm to themselves and the students than any anti public school politician (e.g. Republicans) could have thought imaginable.Reply10 RecommendShareFlagJill commented 3 hours agoJJillNJ3h ago

I’d like to see the NYTimes investigate grade inflation and passing rates. Kids are going to be pushed to the next grade because you can’t hold back the majority of the students. There is another class/grade right behind them moving up, and no space to house them all. Principals are still judged on graduation rates. How can a school have an 80% graduation rate when the majority of students didn’t attend class? Someone needs to look at the attendance records of students, grade flooring, and grade inflation. I think they will find a lot of questionable, if not criminal, grade manipulation going on.2 Replies10 RecommendShareFlagDiane’s commented 2 hours agoDDiane’sCalifornia2h ago

I’m a retired educator and watched by fellow teachers rise to heroic levels in order to continue teaching as close to normal as possible under terrible conditions and circumstances. I don’t know anyone who feels these past 15 months of public education were adequate. However; when I suggest that we pause and redo the past school year, rather than advance students to the next grade level (for example, sixth graders restart grade 6 this fall; third graders restart grade three), no they don’t like that idea either because, well, because. It is easy to complain about it all, and we were not at all prepared to suddenly face a pandemic. We are still not. But unless we sit down together and analyze what we learned from this experience and implement new policies and procedures, in many aspects of our lives, we will not get through this. Public school has been suffering in many ways before this hit, but it was often the best part of millions of children’s days. And yet, and yet, too many people in this country still believe there is no pandemic. Complaining is cathartic for the moment. For too many people it is recreational, in fact. But is anyone doing the analysis?2 Replies10 RecommendShareFlagJustin commented 2 hours ago


JustinOmaha2h ago

@Gino Lombardo “most of the problems the author faces are the result of how different families value education differently.” Yes, and differences across families always exist. That’s good. It is your job at the school to try to smooth out those differences and raise standards. That’s why the students are all in one place, together, as a diverse group. They show up in order to become more engaged, and they expect you to help them. Otherwise, why not just record a webinar and email it each day?In Reply to M10 RecommendShareFlagDavid decoste commented 2 hours agoDDavid decosteCanada2h ago

Having worked in schools and with teachers in the US I was shocked by the differences in educational supports between neighbouring school districts. How you can justify supporting schools by local taxes and expect good outcomes is beyond rational thinking. Surely if the school is in a poorer community the financial support per student needs to be much higher if we want these students to succeed. I did see title one supports that seemed to provide free lunches but I did not see improved access for individual learner needs. Somehow the politicians and leaders in the education system have to fight harder for real equity. Pre-kindergarten school programs for all children is a must towards this reaching the goal of equity. Listening to the incredible public school leaders and teachers serving students in underserved communities would be a good start for politicians and decision makers.Reply10 RecommendShareFlagKN commented 1 hour agoKKNGermany1h ago

@NYC Teacher Agreed. Had my school forced us to do face-to-face teaching without vaccinations, I would have quit on the spot because I have the means to make that choice. I love teaching, but not enough to die or ruin my health.21 Replies10 RecommendShareFlagMG commented 1 hour agoMMGNYC1h ago

Loved everything about this piece, especially the focus on all of the physical measures – tents, filters, etc. – that were taken pretty much everywhere but public schools. We simply weren’t interested in spending the money on that for the schools, a common theme in public schooling. At least here in New York, though, a huge obstacle was the teachers themselves. A huge continent simply would not teach in person, citing public health. And I don’t doubt their concerns. But this was a group of essential workers who simply said no. What do we do about that?5 Replies10 RecommendShareFlagadicicco commented 57 minutes agoAadiciccoPortland, OR56m ago

Thank you! I can’t agree more. Public schools really broke trust over the last year and a half and I don’t know how they will earn it back. As a parents with two young children I was horrified and utterly infuriated that public schools were unwilling to make a viable in person school option. Really, it’s not rocket science- as well evidenced by the thousands of schools that remained open the whole pandemic.Reply10 RecommendShareFlagJosephina commented 4 hours agoJJosephinaNew York4h ago

@Unkle skippy I understand your point and criticism, but some of us have been pushing for reform for decades to no avail, thus not only will it not happen overnight, over decades it seems won’t work either. If you think that reform has occurred, please do share. I’ve been teaching in public schools for 23 years (thankfully in 3 states to have some understanding of differences between them). I enjoy being a teacher, but opinions that matter and drive change are from those who leave the classroom and enter political positions. My suggestions here would be futile.In Reply to Juliana James9 RecommendShareFlagTim C commented 4 hours agoTTim CWest Hartford CT4h ago

I had occasion to observe my fifth grade grand daughter “attend” a science class remotely this past spring. Of the forty-five or so minutes of class time, at least 15 or 20 were devoted to resolving logistical issues (“Jimmy, you’re on mute” “Caitlin, I can’t see you’re homework”). Of the remaining instructional time, the amount of material struck me as minimal and ineffectively delivered. Now, my grand daughter’s scores on standardized tests are going to be compared to prior years’ scores, and she and her peers are going to be at a severe disadvantage. Yes, the remote learning experience was definitely substandard — a disgrace. But, somehow the lack of an effective year of education must not be allowed to follow these students and penalize them for the remainder of their educational years via comparison to standards established during pre-pandemic years.Reply9 RecommendShareFlagHooli commented 3 hours agoHHooliacross state3h ago

I’m not sure how people forgot that school is for students and screen learning doesn’t work. Seven hours straight of screen learning can be detrimental, as I’ve witnessed myself. Kids need to move in a real world. My straight A daughter failed everything. She couldn’t stop staring at the wall she said. And I did all I could. Hopefully the 2 days a week she started 3 weeks ago will perk her up. I taught in person college. I got covid, the effects lasted 78 days, the worst case out of anyone I know. I still would do it again. Young people need a life, they can’t be locked away in their bedrooms.2 Replies9 RecommendShareFlagAlan Jones commented 3 hours ago

Alan Jones

Alan JonesChicago, Illinois3h ago

The research on classroom interactions in our nation’s public schools does not evidence a great deal of classroom discussion, nor time and space to play; but, does find large amounts of teacher talk, busywork, and school/classroom disciplinary guidelines that heavily control what in this piece is termed, “human connection.” What many parents observed during this lockdown was the “relentless monotony” of a teaching model and curricular materials that John Goodlad documented in his study of high schools over thirty years ago. I am not suggesting that virtual learning should replace “in-person” learning, but, done well, which it wasn’t by most school districts, it is the wave of the future, along with numerous other learning configurations. The educational goal–expressed in most school mission statements—of “lifelong learning” will not be achieved with a classroom mindset–that all learning/knowledge is confined to rooms lodged in buildings. No, the reality of the future occupational world lies in technologies that offer on-demand instruction in multiple modalities.1 Reply9 RecommendShareFlagcharles commented 3 hours agoCcharlesnew york3h ago

“They simply shifted from well-educated, unionized, tax-funded professional teachers to hourly-wage, no-benefit workers serving only those who could afford to pay.” This article is the usual propaganda that raising teachers” salaries will improve educational outcomes. Any bright college student can successfully tutor students without ever having taken a course in education.5 Replies9 RecommendShareFlagF451 commented 3 hours agoFF451Kissimmee, FL3h ago

The damage is done and will last a lifetime. Most students probably need to repeat the year but will be pushed ahead because there is no test for competency. Can’t do Algebra 1? No problem you’re now in Algebra 2. How many students are able to skip any grade with no problems?1 Reply9 RecommendShareFlagDave DiRoma commented 2 hours agoDDave DiRomaBaldwinsville2h ago

Ditto my experience teaching college juniors and seniors accounting and finance in the spring and fall of 2020.In Reply to Dan9 RecommendShareFlagJay commented 2 hours agoJJayNYC2h ago

@Jim Walker You would be surprised as to how many would disagree that in-person learning is best. Many. That is why there is a push by some to have a never-ending remote option. I do understand that there may be some rare circumstances where a child does better remotely. But to devote public school money to that is crazy. There are already existing programs for that scenario (for athletes, actors, etc). But I have heard more parents than I thought possible push for remote as a permanent option.In Reply to Jim Walker9 RecommendShareFlagProudly anti-racist commented 2 hours agoPProudly anti-racistNew York2h ago

Speak for yourself. Online learning does not have to be a joke. I Zoomed with 106 kids a week all year and I had significant relationships with many of my students, including some that I have never met. I had almost 100% attendance and high engagement all year. About 90% of my students did their HW assignments, as well.1 Reply9 RecommendShareFlagEva O’Mara commented 1 hour agoEEva O’MaraCleveland, Ohio1h ago

Let’s agree that this was an unprecedented event leading to society attempting to build the plane while in flight. NO ONE had experience as to how best to deal with education when the world around them was disintegrating. Educators did what was requested of them given conflicting data and little support. All we heard was that we had to rely on the data to make decisions. Yet, support was difficult to get because the solutions given cost a great deal of money, took time to install and implement, and processes were NOT TAUGHT to the educators because few had the expertise to do it. Take way? We all learned a great deal about what can and cannot be accomplished. Now let’s get back to work- AFTER TAKING THE SUMMER TO RECHARGE!Reply9 RecommendShareFlagJaneDoe commented 1 hour agoJJaneDoeUrbana, IL1h ago

I would agree with much in this article but please, let’s stop hyperventilating about kids being “traumatized” by online learning. It’s an overhyped bore, no doubt. But in 10 years, kids will look back on this and shrug their shoulders. Pretty sure I could have skipped all of third grade without much damage being done.Reply9 RecommendShareFlagMarc commented 1 hour agoMMarcNorth Carolina1h ago

Though I don’t necessarily agree with all of the assertions in this essay, I think the heart of the issue is here: “More of our public school systems should have likewise moved mountains — repurposed buildings, reassigned staff, redesigned programming, reallocated funding — to offer consistent public schooling, as safely as possible, to all children.” It’s true that many schools and systems simply weren’t courageous enough to try to do something new, but I’d add that they were also left helpless because they didn’t have the funds to do these things. Blame who you will for the lack of money, but the simple fact is that moving mountains isn’t free. I’m a public school teacher and a father of a public school student and while I hope we will never see an emergency of this magnitude again, we can start preparing for it by being ready to fund emergency moves, having coherent plans to communicate to parents, and including all stakeholders – not just administrators and policymakers – in the development of those plans.Reply9 RecommendShareFlagTom commented 1 hour agoTTomNew Orleans1h ago

2/2 I think the lack of coherent messaging by the Trump administration led to and enhanced the confusion at the state level, and the politicization of the message (not only by the President then) around how to prevent transmission and the role of government to support all it’s citizens during a public health emergency has led us to where we are now. Kids didn’t get what they needed, teachers weren’t given tools to succeed, and everyone suffered unduly. “Follow the science” was an easy out for some, and a punchline for others. Pandemics don’t happen in a vacuum, and real, effective policy made with rational thought and not political emotion is what was and is still needed to get us to the end of this tunnel. I can tell you what I know and can learn about how a virus behaves in a human population, and how the infected person reacts to that infection but I can’t tell you how the community will behave in the face of this challenge. I do know that in the lab we prepare for any and all possibilities when we work with infectious or potentially-infectious material and that saves lives of those in my lab, and in our local community. We plan ahead though, and work through the scenarios that may happen so we are ready when they do happen. We don’t just do something without forethought. Is the same attention to detail too much to expect from our government, our schools, and our business community?In Reply to Tom9 RecommendShareFlaganonymouse commented 56 minutes agoAanonymouseseattle56m ago

During the pandemic, I taught 1 class to high school kids attending a private school, then volunteered for a public high school. If we think the public school system was capable of pivoting and repurposing building in a pandemic we don’t know the education system. In and out of the pandemic, public schools are inflexible bureaucracies with school-marm scolds as administrators, capable of only producing widgets, average kids for a world that doesn’t exist anymore. The real heroes in the pandemic were private industry, who repurposed production lines to make sanitizer or masks, helped employees set up work from home computers, or repurposed restaurants into ghost kitchens and burger takeout stands. They hired me to teach 1 class. Let’s stop abdicating responsibility for our schools. They are OUR schools.Reply9 RecommendShareFlagFrances commented 56 minutes agoFFrancesMaine56m ago

Thank you, Ms. Almagor, for giving voice to what I’ve been feeling all year. I’ve watched fellow progressive parents gladly bubble-wrap their families this year, withdrawing from public school and public life, while ignoring the devastation to families less fortunate than themselves. I now see why progressivism has no teeth to it—everyone wants to feel noble and enlightened; very few are willing to stick their neck out, or sacrifice in any way, when it’s needed. The handling of the COVID threat demonstrated this perfectly, and I now see why the working class so distrusts the professional class. They should.Reply9 RecommendShareFlagLisa R. commented 21 minutes agoLLisa R.Alexandria, VA20m ago

I think this article absolutely nailed it. It spoke straight to my heart about the beauty and importance of school. And it really is a shame that we let school fall to pieces during the pandemic.Reply9 RecommendShareFlagMaria commented 4 hours agoMMariaNJ4h ago

I have a High school student – she can learn independently, but now I could observe lessons as well. Not a surprise: Even good teachers are better in person then online Some teachers should not teach at all. If teaching online can postpone retirement of the great teacher – absolutely, but please, fire some teachers. I saw lesson min Silent! clicking on slides – in Physics – the only words spoken were hi and bye. I’m sure this teacher is no better in person.Reply8 RecommendShareFlagDavid Green commented 3 hours agoDDavid GreenSyracuse3h ago

I won’t spare you “the kids will be alright”, because they will. As a group they will be fine. Anecdotally, you can always find examples to prove your point. You can’t make policy on anecdotal evidence. That’s public policy 101. Public education for all. is a recent phenomenon in our society and in many early micro-cultures the working of the land directed minimal schooling for most students as well as when school happened. Children were expected to do hard work on the farm with the family. Guess what, those kids grew up and became productive adults. Truly with less mental health issues than today’s coddled youngsters. Long term my belief that they will be fine will show to be true. Only time will tell.Reply8 RecommendShareFlagDave C commented 3 hours agoDDave CNJ3h ago

@Hooli Thank you. This exactly. Kids staring at screens from 8am until 11pm or longer is detrimental to their development and overall health.In Reply to Dave C8 RecommendShareFlagMathew commented 2 hours agoMMathewBoston2h ago

@charles Tudor and teach are two very different things.In Reply to Peter8 RecommendShareFlagJeff commented 2 hours agoJJeffMichigan2h ago

@QxTf Do you realize the health risks to children are vanishingly small – and there’s a good chance they weren’t reduced by school closures?In Reply to QxTf8 RecommendShareFlagAnonymous commented 2 hours agoAAnonymousLocation2h ago

They weren’t protecting teachers so much as enabling dereliction of duty. All of the other essential workers went to work: teachers refused.In Reply to Mike8 RecommendShareFlagVML commented 2 hours agoVVMLChicago, IL2h ago

The answer is in the author’s own essay – teaching is a UNION job. Nurses, physicians, and grocery store workers do not enjoy any semblance of protections that teachers do in many places in the country. See Chicago Teacher’s Union fighting tooth and nail to avoid ANY in-person instruction, fighting vaccination requirements, and, shockingly and brazenly, refusing to return even after being vaccinated. Earning 100k for 9 months of work? That’s not enough pay, too many risks. Better do half a job in Zoom and get full time pay. It is time to reform runaway municipal unions.1 Reply8 RecommendShareFlagPaul S commented 2 hours agoPPaul SSWVA2h ago

Make this simple, get everyone vaccinated, then no issues in schools.1 Reply8 RecommendShareFlagAna Gonzalez commented 1 hour agoAAna GonzalezWashington DC1h ago

I agree 100%with this teacher. Thank you very much for writing this article. I am a parent of two kids at DCPS. Both straight A’s students, before and after the pandemic. This year could have not be worst for them. Mentally, socially and academically because those A’s come from hours, days, months of staring at a screen. They were completely isolated. Tired, head aches, anxieties. I agree with everything that is explained here. I think the mayor, the chancellor and most of DCPS administration have been a joke and a disgrace to the kids and families of this city.Reply8 RecommendShareFlagKarine commented 1 hour agoKKarineNJ1h ago

@NYC Teacher The author discusses this, and how families weren’t made safer by closing schools: “With schools closed, the health risks and child care hours didn’t disappear. They simply shifted from well-educated, unionized, tax-funded professional teachers to hourly-wage, no-benefit workers serving only those who could afford to pay.”21 Replies8 RecommendShareFlagJuliana James commented 1 hour ago

Juliana James

Juliana JamesPortland, Oregon1h ago

Agreed. As a retired elementary teacher, we have an opportunity right now in the United States of American to level the playing field for all children: class size of no more than 15 students, HEPA filtered HVAC systems, hand washing stations for 15 students at a time, bathrooms for 15 students at a time, a promise of visual art, vocal music, band, social studies, geography, and science for all students in every school, fully staffed nurses in every school (not just one nurse for 600 students), fully staffed counselors and social workers. If we can’t do this now, when? The next pandemic will come, sooner than we think.Reply8 RecommendShareFlagG.P commented 1 hour agoGG.PDFW1h ago

Closing schools and remote teaching was completely unnecessary. It was instigated by the Teacher’s Union and based on no science. It is now known the children don’t get the virus and do not transmit the virus to any degree necessitating school closures. But the Teacher’s Union simply didn’t want teachers to have to go to work in the classroom. So, they coerced the CDC to recommend closing schools. They even wrote some of the announcements the CDC issued regarding schools. Who suffered? The children who are now behind in their education.6 Replies8 RecommendShareFlagmary bardmess commented 1 hour agoMmary bardmesscamas wa1h ago

There is a lot of science that supports the necessity of social distancing for teens and young adults during this pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 Americans. (Lest we forget) I wish we could have just declared a gap year for everyone, but like everything, schools are political. They have to be all things to all people. The best thing we could have done, which we didn’t do, was to make sure the kids were happy and felt safe. It would have been a great year to explore a hobby and zoom that.Reply8 RecommendShareFlagRamona commented 26 minutes agoRRamonaOak Park, IL26m ago

I liked a lot of what I read here, and as a parent it felt really great hearing it from a teacher. I understand why schools had to close, and I am very glad that our teachers were able to stay safe even though it meant a year of half salary and zero rest for me. But what I don’t understand is the complete lack of federal/state/local government acknowledgment that parents have to work to feed and house their families, and parents cannot work while supervising remote learning. It was just the typical response of *shrug* let the moms figure it out. And now as kids return to school with various levels of learning loss and trauma, what additional resources are their teachers and schools getting? It just feels like as a society we don’t take enough care of our kids and the adults who care for them.Reply8 RecommendShareFlagDorothy commented 4 hours agoDDorothyNYC4h ago

I would like readers to remember that NYC DOE kept many teachers and students in the building this year. I have worked as a speech therapist in person for d75 all year while my daughter, who is an 11th grader attending a HS in Manhattan, sat in our kitchen doing public high school on zoom. The shameful part is the number of staff who chose to continue working from home with medical accommodations after the vaccine was available and the leaders that allowed that to be a choice. In person school could have been MORE available since March. My daughter is doing fine academically, however, her comment about the year was “I didn’t get any special attention.” I am so disappointed.Reply7 RecommendShareFlagsub commented 4 hours agoSsubnew york4h ago

Going remote was supposed to be temporary and short duration until plans are made for quick return to normalcy. Author clearly distinguishes that our country values public school education non-essential unlike gyms and restaurants. This attitude is the reason why our schools fail to give great results compared to other countries. What you give is what you get back. Safety is important and with trillions spent on covid relief, it’s important to know that it was spent mostly to make remote learning possible.Reply7 RecommendShareFlagApril commented 4 hours agoAAprilNYC4h ago

@ Stephen, we managed zero schools. 50pct would have been better then none. Also permanent solutions and short term solutions are different costs and different time horizons. A field hospital and an actual hospital take different amounts of time and money. We should have treated these similarly. It also wasn’t that long ago that when communities were in dire need of a school building people volunteered their labor to keep costs down. If there was ever a time this was it.In Reply to April7 RecommendShareFlagSierra Morgan commented 3 hours agoSSierra MorganDallas3h ago

@Ccc Guess what, adults cheat as you call it at work, they look up information, ask a co-worker, see what other people are doing, using technology and other tools to make the job easier. It is called teammates working together. Kids do not need to know all the state capitals, but they must know how to use the tools to find the information. My slide rule sits in a drawer untouched for 30 years. I know how to find the instructions should my computer programs fail. Math concepts concepts are critical and need to be joined at the hip to current technology. Obsession with cheating speaks volumes on teaching quality.In Reply to Sierra Morgan7 RecommendShareFlagrab commented 2 hours agoRrabUpstate NY2h ago

There is a major flaw in the secondary education system that can be fixed for free. This fundamental weakness was exposed when the curtain was pulled back during remote, online instruction. The four marking period, 40 week, 180 day school “year” is just too long. The duration is too limiting – and the negative impacts of familiarity are obvious to any teacher as we watch the quality of discipline and instruction slowly degrade as the school “year” unfolds. (All that “busy” is just one piece of evidence for this claim) The solution lies in either four, 10 week, three 13 week, or two 20 week independent school “years’ within each secondary grade. This would allow for students to earn independent credits, for changes in schedule, and changes in teacher assignments. By providing multiple fresh starts, marginal students would get to re-set their chances for academic success, it would significantly expand curricula options and break the malaise of what has become a much too long school year.Reply7 RecommendShareFlagSJL commented 2 hours ago


SJLCT2h ago

As a charter school, it would seem that the author’s school would have had a bit more freedom to innovate and respond to the pandemic. Our very small (4 school) public system in CT did a really good job. For instance, by fall 2020, every student was provided with a district-issued laptop, and assurances were made of internet access for each child. (Special ed services suffered for lack of in-person interactions, however.) As a former resident of DC, I can see the challenges of working in DC, but public charters ought to have been nimble enough to solve some of these problems, given strong leadership, ability to write those grants to get the laptops, and at least help teachers to use the newer online systems. So, for that matter, should have the “regular” public schools.Reply7 RecommendShareFlagSleepless in Chicago commented 2 hours agoSSleepless in ChicagoChicago2h ago

@David Stevens somehow, schools in Europe knew what to do to keep kids in school as much as possible. Schools in the next town over knew what to do and kept school open all year while my small city didn’t.In Reply to Sleepless in Chicago7 RecommendShareFlagSki bum commented 1 hour ago

Ski bum

Ski bumColorado1h ago

So what was the alternative? Have kids attend In-class schools, become infected and infect families, neighbors and friends? I dare say the death toll would have been in the millions and we would still be struggling to recover. Remote learning should be a viable alternative for families that want it and school districts should be challenged to improve the process and delivery.1 Reply7 RecommendShareFlagAnnabelle K. commented 1 hour agoAAnnabelle K.Orange County, California1h ago

As a secondary public high school teacher and mom of a teen and college kid, Zoom school was like a Stephen King meets the Coen Brothers version of Ground Hog Day.Reply7 RecommendShareFlagPadraig Lewis commented 1 hour agoPPadraig LewisDubai1h ago

It looks like the American government told their teachers they were not essential and their children’s education was more of an inconvenience than a necessity. No wonder America ranks low in world education studies despite the highest education costs in the world.Reply7 RecommendShareFlagThe Rational Libertarian commented 1 hour agoTThe Rational LibertarianNJ1h ago

@MG “We simply weren’t interested in spending the money on that for the schools, a common theme in public schooling.” Seriously??? We spend DOUBLE per student on public schools vs other Developed Nations for much worse outcomes. We pay an average of $7,000 per household in my town in school taxes alone. We have about 27,000 households meaning just in local school taxes we spend $189 million dollars plus all the government funding from the State and Federal Level. But our Teacher’s Union said “We won’t do in person teaching” and that was that. Private schools don’t have teacher’s unions. Our problem isn’t money in the public school system. It’s Teacher’s Unions.In Reply to The Rational Libertarian7 RecommendShareFlagJulie commented 1 hour agoJJulieCT1h ago

@Ray I don’t think it’s strictly a blue state/red state issue. My state (CT) had in-person school in almost all towns this year. It wasn’t perfect and the large schools had to use hybrid models, but my elementary and middle schooler were in school full time. My high schooler is now back full time after being hybrid most of the year. My friend is in NC and her kids had no in-person class time at all until the end of the year.In Reply to The Lorax7 RecommendShareFlagTim commented 48 minutes agoTTimNYC48m ago

@jane I hear you, but I read it differently – I think the article is suggesting we fund education more rather than saying individual schools need to “make it work”. They are referring to the system, not the school.In Reply to Tim7 RecommendShareFlagSW commented 16 minutes agoSSWNorth Dakota15m ago

My sister is a public high school math teacher. She’d 100% agree with this article. Listening to her describe the Kafkaesque chaos of trying to teach online made me believe that the whole year is just frankly lost for too many kids.Reply7 RecommendShareFlagHooli commented 3 hours agoHHooliacross state3h ago

I have 3 degrees, have read to my straight A students their whole life, math, science, physical Ed, you name it. My 12 year old flunked her classes and stared at the wall the whole year. Finally she’s back to 2 days a week.In Reply to Enlynn Rock6 RecommendShareFlagJackson commented 3 hours agoJJacksonNYC3h ago

@Mike “At this point I’m sick of…hearing about…parents who never expected parenthood to be difficult. Same goes for adults who work with children.” The pandemic made it “difficult” for “adults who work with children”? The clear and declared point of the article was that it was first of all difficult for children. You must have missed that part.In Reply to Jackson6 RecommendShareFlagKatie commented 3 hours agoKKatieFL3h ago

Many schools here in Central Florida had lots of transmission. They just didn’t publicize it. But as a teacher in the system, I can tell you we got the emails and phone calls, and heard about the cases from other teachers. I taught at a publicly funded charter school this past year, and we had tons of cases. I got it from the school, and I was teaching a fully online class. It was literally the only place I went outside of my home, and I was forced to go in to sit in front of a computer, even though I could have worked safely from home. I got Covid just from being in the same building as other people, not even the same room. Schools absolutely were not safe.5 Replies6 RecommendShareFlagMary T. commented 32 minutes agoMMary T.WInchester VA32m ago

I’ll extend the headline to include all policy where children are concerned as a disgrace. Sandy Hook forever signaled our attitude towards children—profits for guns over babies. Dismissal of children—and by extension those who nurture them into adulthood (mothers, teachers, and the stay-at-home dads)—is represented in every policy and public opinion. My teaching job morphed to include sheltering in place rehearsal (much cheaper than gun legislation), sharing school with drug sniffing dogs and armed police, training to recognize abuse from families under stress, providing food to hungry teens, practice in administering epi pens (rising asthma rates), and safely cleaning up blood and other bodily fluids—all realities not dealt with through legislation. Failure to resolve our nations ills in the classroom results in the vilification of teachers. Nice country.Reply6 RecommendShareFlagSchultzie commented 2 hours agoSSchultzieBrooklyn2h ago

@Diane This isn’t the whole story. The complicated schedules for in-person learning at public schools in NYC made it impossible for families to plan for work obligations, child care, etc., and understandably many families decided to opt for remote learning for consistency.In Reply to Schultzie6 RecommendShareFlagKatie Taber commented 2 hours agoKKatie TaberNassau County2h ago

@SteveRR Our teachers are unionized and we’ve been open all year, so it’s more complicated than that. But I’m not disagreeing that some of the unions seriously overplayed their hands this year, and there will be a lot of anger for years to come.In Reply to Katie Taber6 RecommendShareFlagStephen commented 2 hours agoSStephenUnited States2h ago

A few thoughts, apologies if this is a little scattered! 1) I don’t think the shade you throw at wealthy parents in the 3rd paragraph is warranted. I saw some of the most devoted parents to public schools move their kids when it became clear that as a society we were failing to provide adequate education. You really want to chastise parents for wanting to educate their children over the last 15 months when you acknowledge that we have failed to do that in public schools? 2) I give a pass to schools in the spring of 2020. That was such a time of uncertainty and confusion and it was VERY hard to make choices in that environment 3) Overall I agree with you, far too many public schools failed our children in the 2020-2021 school year. I do think we need to reckoning of some sort on that so it doesn’t happen again. I can’t stand Desantis but he was right. As were, I will point out, some Democrats like Raimondo. Far too many on the left, however, including many people I admire, were very, very wrong on schools.Reply6 RecommendShareFlagHBD commented 2 hours agoHHBDNYC2h ago

Such an eloquent summation. I am so glad to know that there is at least one teacher in this country who sees the need, and the folly, clearly. If we had to go through a pandemic to get some priorities straight, I hope it will be worth it.Reply6 RecommendShareFlagDAT commented 2 hours agoDDATSan Antonio2h ago

Thank you for your testimonial and perspective. As you highlighted, the problem was not that some could worked it out, but that many, especially Black and Latino students, rural students and urban alike, did not. States neglected public schools and did not provide options nor effective communications. We need more like your voice to bring any solutions and post pandemic realities into perspective.Reply6 RecommendShareFlagNull commented 1 hour agoNNullTX1h ago

My old school system which I grew up in is in an incredibly impoverished area of the country. It was the type of school where students received free breakfasts and free lunches because parents couldn’t afford to feed their kids food let alone a proper meal in general. During the pandemic, students fell into one of three categories. 1) students who still attended school in person, for the reason of food or for the reason that their parents worked a blistering 6-10 job somewhere and needed someone to take care of their kids. (The school a few months into the pandemic started delivering meals to homes to the other students.) 2) Students who actually had internet connection (most of the highly rural persons didn’t have internet let alone running water or a roof over their heads) and were able to log into their zoom classes. They normally had a parent at home to be able to push them alone and ensure they attended online school. Lastly, 3) the students who never showed up to zoom classes and who outright dropped out of the system. These three categories were roughly equally divided amongst a small school district of about 75-100 students per grade level. Online classes have overturned a natural order and threatened the life, opportunity, and subsistence of students in rural areas. For that reason alone they need to end, because only in person can it be ensured students get what they need to succeed and escape the crushing poverty.Reply6 RecommendShareFlagPaul Bonner commented 1 hour agoPPaul BonnerHuntsville, AL1h ago

There is now talk of a commission to look into the handling of the pandemic. I hope that includes a thorough vetting of choices made concerning schooling. Perhaps we will then see how vital teachers are to serving our children. My last year as a principal happened to be the first spring of the pandemic. The stress on teachers and families was profound. It is critical that we are prepared for another pandemic and vital that teachers and administrators who navigated the challenges are at the table. Many mistakes were made by states, districts, and cities because too little attention was paid to those expected to do the work. One of the biggest mistakes we make in public education comes from the reality that those of us working in education do no listen to one another. If that does not change, the crisis in public schools management will continue.Reply6 RecommendShareFlagMel Hauser commented 1 hour agoMMel HauserNorth Carolina1h ago

Excellent!!! I was a NYC teacher for 36 years–all in Title 1 schools. It was embarrassing how poorly maintained our buildings and supplies were. The slightest bump in the road and the system was bound to collapse. Schools are not only for our loved ones, they are the future. Spend money to get as good as possible, not as cheap as possible. Stop funding by purely local taxes because that results in the poorest neighborhoods getting the poorest schools. Make America the land of opportunity.Reply6 RecommendShareFlagHarriette Rasmussen commented 1 hour agoHHarriette RasmussenSeattle1h ago

This is everything about what we value. Restaurants, bars, and gyms. It was always possible to go back to school safely. We chose not to do so.Reply6 RecommendShareFlagJoe commented 32 minutes agoJJoeBoston32m ago

Is that just your gut feeling? Every study of schools that stayed open showed lower spread than the community. It was all spreading in the home for the majority. It was all for nothing and the kids suffered for our panic and self absorption.21 Replies6 RecommendShareFlagLaurie commented 21 minutes agoLLaurieFlorida21m ago

The “five-blind-men-and-the-elephant” is a good analogy for any discussion of education in this country. However, ultimately the core issue is that in the U.S. we give lip service to education and brag on our educational system, but we do not support it financially or ethically. Financially, wealthy districts generally have better facilities and resources, and when the pandemic hit, we could see this aspect in the extreme. When the responsibility for education shifted to parents, those with cash were way better off, and the system struggled to provide effectively for the rest. Lacking empathy, awareness, and ethics, we have a tendency to blame everything that goes wrong on teachers although we do not sufficiently support them with money, time, or resources. In this case, the educational system demanded huge sacrifices of teachers, and most teachers met or exceeded those demands. What have we done to say thanks? We don’t really support or involve ourselves in education in this country. We complain.Reply6 RecommendShareFlagMike commented 30 minutes agoMMikePensacola29m ago

The pandemic exposed many weak areas in our social fabric. The biggest, probably, was that one of our presidents was so egocentric and self-absorbed that he would let millions die to avoid tarnishing his image. We need to fix areas that suffered under the pandemic, like education. Unfortunately, the GOP is standing in the way of any progress because GOP members feel it could make Biden appear successful, and that is the last thing they want.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagBrown commented 4 hours agoBBrownSoutheast4h ago

@alan Fair and reasoned, Alan. Thank you. (Father or a high school teacher who did his best, in classroom and on Zoom)In Reply to Brown5 RecommendShareFlagBruce Wayne commented 4 hours agoBBruce WayneGotham City4h ago

@Harvey Marshak In 2017, the United States spent $14,100 per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student on elementary and secondary education, which was 37 percent higher than the average of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries of $10,300 (in constant 2019 U.S. dollars).In Reply to Irwin Saltzman5 RecommendShareFlagEnlynn Rock commented 3 hours agoEEnlynn RockVirginia3h ago

I do hope that at both federal and state levels there are committees being formed and continuing for radically innovative and improved methods to deal with schooling during the inevitable next pandemic. It is perhaps not surprising, given our widely inequitable and fragmented education systems, not to mention our heavily politicized state level reactions, that our responses were so ineffective and messy. Please let us find common ground and allocate time, funds and expertise to prepare for the next time. We can and must do better for our children – and our country.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagMountain_Girl commented 3 hours agoMMountain_GirlUSA3h ago

How do teachers justify getting a paycheck when they refuse to go to school to teach and propagate teaching only remotely knowing very well know half their virtual students are either asleep or do not show up in class even virtually, I know this because I have a kid in HS who tells me how many virtual students show up in his class? Yes COVID was scary in the beginning of 2020 and no one knew the havoc this virus would create but in 6 months since March of 2020 few school districts decided to give parents the option to choose in person or virtual. These school districts have done great service to their students, parents and the community. My HS Senior was thrilled to be back in school and interact with the teachers. 70% of the students in his school were back to in person learning and there was not a single day when they had to shut down school due to a COVID outbreak . He attended school straight from September 2020-June 2021. Parents who wanted to send the kids back to school were looked upon like they did not care for the teachers or did not believe in Science but Science tells us that transmission among kids is very low.3 Replies5 RecommendShareFlagB commented 30 minutes agoBBMetro area29m ago

What is a disgrace are the economic divisions that make internet access, technology, and parental involvement possible. Online teaching, while it may have limitations provided me with classes I might not otherwise have access to and provided my students individual time not always possible in person. For the introverted, the shy, it was a wonderful experience. So disgrace remains our economic divide…something I don’t see our culture really coming to grips with in terms of medical costs, technology, and time which is severely impacted when you need more than one job. Lets stop the aggrandizement of celebrity status, followers, and viewers and create a culture that values the human being; this lack is the disgrace.Reply5 RecommendShareFlaghumphrey.gardner commented 2 hours agoHhumphrey.gardnerMarblehead2h ago

Thank you and well said. As a parent of suburban highschoolers with remote and hybrid learning I saw a languid loss of drive with learning becoming ever more dilute and grading flattened to compensate. I hope schools everywhere will be wise enough to incorporate some rapid catch-up and review in the fall curriculum.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagDan commented 2 hours agoDDanBoston2h ago

@AR Clayboy Unfortunately your natural experiment has a selection bias — students chose whether to attend in person. That may be the real reason for different learning outcomes. Next time, you’ll need to randomly assign your students to experiment groups!In Reply to Dan5 RecommendShareFlagQxTf commented 2 hours agoQQxTfNC2h ago

@Jeff I feel this depends upon the general health of the child. I have an immuno compromised 4 year old, I had no choice but to keep his 8 year old brother in virtual learning.In Reply to QxTf5 RecommendShareFlagJudy Bourgeois commented 2 hours agoJJudy BourgeoisWilbraham, MA2h ago

I have two exceptional grandchildren, both on the Autism Spectrum. But that doesn’t make them similar. One is self motivated and has thrived with virtual learning. The other is not and has not. This is not a better/worse scenario. Both are very bright but the necessary adjustments in teaching have left one no longer floundering but totally disinterested in learning. When one mother was teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown, my suggestion was that she just write the year off. Better a lost year than a lost mother/son relationship.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagDorothy commented 2 hours agoDDorothyIllinois2h ago

@Alix Hoquet Yes, the inequities are structural. The US has never dealt with this. Money makes a huge difference. Education is not the only institution where this is a fact. All our institutions, or almost all of them, leave poor people behind, and deliberately so.In Reply to Dorothy5 RecommendShareFlagTara commented 2 hours agoTTaraMI2h ago

The real ‘disgrace’ is the lack of measure and context of this article… and the flood of red-state scavengers, rushing to attack the schools and pandemic safety. A state that was half-prepared for a pandemic would have had a backup online delivery system already in place. That would cover the essentials, and ensure that the teaching profession didn’t get wiped out by Covid— which has happened. But no red-state scavenger would ever _pay_ for such a backup. There is no direct correlative, to replace learning and early socialization that is wiped out by 1 year of pandemic– any more than there’d be a nice red schoolhouse, safely snug in the middle of a battlefield. BUT remedial learning is both do-able and can repair much of the damage. I skipped out on 1/2 of my learning in high school and regained it 10 years later.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagAubrey Mayo commented 2 hours agoAAubrey MayoBrooklyn, New York2h ago

Thank you, for your work, and your commitment to public education. This year has been extraordinarily hard for everyone, and many of my peers opted for the greater stability of private education. I believe that quality public education is the only real toll we have in resolving our enormous problems with inequity, and remained committed through insane year here in NYC. It is teachers like you that made it possible.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagSteve commented 1 hour agoSStevePortland, ME1h ago

In my estimation, all remote learning did was add extra work and complications to teachers, and made student work less, and less effective. I hope we learned from this experiment that it’s not worth repeating: that in-person, brick and mortar schools with professional teachers are still worth having and nurturing, and that the alternatives are, in fact, inferior.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagSomebody commented 1 hour agoSSomebodySomewhere1h ago

Why does education have to be one-size-fits-all? School has a lot of downsides that we all know about. Bullying (the weaker, the gay, the less fortunate, the intelligent, the slow, the rich even), Teen Pregnancy, Bad Teachers, and the spread of disease are all negatives of school. All can be dealt with better in a remote option. A remote option, both fulltime and part-time, is about time.1 Reply5 RecommendShareFlagTommy commented 1 hour agoTTommyTexas1h ago

Schools should have been the first priority in reopening- not restaurants and other businesses. With a global pandemic in full force, a “normal” economy is not possible. We should have spent however much money was necessary to keep everyone afloat financially so they could protect themselves. However, nothing is more important than education in regards to our future. And almost no one is stating the most important point about it: education is more than just learning math or physics or reading. Stunting the social growth of children that comes with in-person education and being around others is a national catastrophe. The effects will disproportionately fall on poor students and students of color. Children (while still at risk) have a lower risk of contracting COVID-19 and becoming sick from it. Obviously, schools would need to be adapted overnight with upgraded ventilation systems, allowing leave/virtual work for especially vulnerable teachers and administrators, and social distancing. The point is that our kids should have been our priority and distance learning should at the very least, have been curtailed for the start of the 2020-21 school year (with exceptions for those most as risk). It’s an absolute shame that shows our misplaced priorities.3 Replies5 RecommendShareFlagWanda commented 1 hour ago


WandaKentucky59m ago

This is true of many of our community colleges as well, but it happened well before COVID. Pressured to put more “content” online, we have offered options for students, especially adults juggling too many responsibilities already. Online education has its place and for some classes it’s ideal. Our welders had to figure it out: students can’t afford the equipment they need. But the conversations about content that should help students learn critical thinking and communication skills, how to behave in situations where there is disagreement or competing ideals, how to cooperate in completing assignments, and the kind of nonverbal communication that says, “Hello, Human Being, I see what you just accomplished, understood, or shared,” is very, very difficult to replicate and for all its bells and whistles, Microsoft Teams and Zoom-type environments are a long way from being anywhere near as good.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagDavid commented 52 minutes agoDDavidClarence, NY52m ago

What we did deserves both praise and caution. First the praise: Without any significant training we bumbled though and began to teach virtually. I did this from my living room on a free Zoom account by the end of March. It severed two purposes, to teach content and to engage students. This past year in the hybrid model I taught simultaneously present and virtual students having to work two computers to pull it off. What many teachers did was astounding and commendable. But we should lean one thing, there IS NO REPALCEMENT for in person learning. How should we see this manifested? First, lets chill on this idea that all our answers are in technology and the next upgrade. Second lets foster those connections. It should supersede this “testing craze” like NYS APPR what a joke! Smaller class sizes means stronger ties and connections to students. I was cheated in that I hardly got to know my students in this last yearReply5 RecommendShareFlagVJO commented 50 minutes agoVVJODC50m ago

Thank you, thank you Ms. Almagor for writing this essay! I don’t care what people say but when they write the history of this pandemic the use of extended public school closures as the PRIMARY method for reducing the spread of the coronavirus especially on the East Coast and West Coast will be considered a tragic error during a time of many.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagaem commented 38 minutes agoAaemboston38m ago

I am a teacher and I taught hybrid for the entire year. I did have all the students back in April and May, however students were splite between rooms and on zoom from the school building because the class size was too big for one classroom with social distancing. My take away is that it all comes down to funding. I am completely burnt out, and that is because at my school in-person teachers had to pick up slack for remote teachers and absent teachers, and in general the lack of people willing to work in person. I was happy to work in person however, it was disheartening to see that my kindness was taken advantge of and in return I was given double work. If we had the funding, then I would not have had double work. I think in each case where the year went poorly it is directly related to money and funding. Sadly, this always seems to be the case and I don’t know how ones gets around it.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagArmo commented 30 minutes agoAArmoSan Francisco30m ago

Disgrace is a harsh word to describe doing something never before done. My daughter is an elementary school teacher. Was it hard for her? Yes. Was it frustrating for her? Yes. Did a lot of kids simply tune out? Yes. The blame isn’t on the system or the teachers. Something had to be done to avoid contact with people. Just curious what you did in the last pandemic. A disgrace? Hardly. Maybe for a charter school it was a disgrace, but certainly not in the elementary public school my daughter teaches from.Reply5 RecommendShareFlagLibbie commented 30 minutes agoLLibbieCanada29m ago

I mean at this point in-person or remote the American public school system is an abject failure… but im sure one positive came out of remote learning. Kids probably didn’t need to waste so much learning time doing active shooter drills.Reply4 RecommendShareFlagJiggs Gallagher commented 4 hours agoJJiggs GallagherCA4h ago

Thanks for your thoughtful essay, Ms. Almagor. I wonder if one small silver lining is this: Now that we have Zoom and other technologies, and they are finally working more than they are failing, we could say goodbye to the concept of the “sick day” for most children. Leave the equipment in the classroom, and when a child has the sniffles and needs to stay at home, he or she can still hear the lessons in the classroom, and ask questions, be called upon, and participate with other children in the discussion. Win/win.1 Reply4 RecommendShareFlagSierra Morgan commented 4 hours agoSSierra MorganDallas4h ago

@Samantha M. Online learning has been around for almost 20 years. There are standards and techniques best practices. Clearly your district care enough to learn and expand, in short and your group cared enough to do the hard work to build solutions. Bravo, WWE need more districts like this. It is much easier to complain and criticize than to change.In Reply to Sierra Morgan4 RecommendShareFlagMaria commented 3 hours agoMMariaNJ3h ago

@Sierra Morgan Quite the opposite. It was shown that schools are not a big factor in the transmission. Many schools were open without issues.5 Replies4 RecommendShareFlagClaudia commented 3 hours agoCClaudiaBoston3h ago

@Mike My superintendent and school committee decided we wouldn’t reopen. You also seem to forget that unions advocate for workers.In Reply to Claudia4 RecommendShareFlagMaria commented 3 hours agoMMariaNJ3h ago

@chandler It’s abysmal public schools in NYC (not all, but many) that create a line and lottery to the charter schools. Parent know what’s better for their kids – and it’s often in charter school their child “existed in a world”. We moved to suburbs because of schools and to avoid this dilemma. Our public school does mostly great job with half the budget per student vs NYC in the same COL area.In Reply to Hooli4 RecommendShareFlagDan Singer commented 2 hours agoDDan SingerMinnesota2h ago

Principals need to push back on being judged by graduation rates, just as teachers need to push back on being judged by student evaluations, just as parents need to push back on being judged by their children based on immature minds, just as a cat has to push back on having its tail pulled by a toddler, just as a mouse has to push back on being hunted by a cat.In Reply to Dan Singer4 RecommendShareFlagPeter commented 2 hours ago


PeterCT2h ago

@F451 Having been a straight A student in a slower tier of public education, in 9th grade I was jumped ahead to the top tier, where, essentially, I missed more than six months of instruction in Algebra. I was told I simply needed to “catch up.” I struggled to get a passing grade, and didn’t get another A in math the rest of my school career. My guess is there aren’t any students who can skip even half a grade with no problems (except the lucky kids whose parents can afford tutors.)In Reply to Peter4 RecommendShareFlagzarathustra commented 40 minutes agoZzarathustrarichmond40m ago

I admire professionals like Almagor no end, but she should not be surprised that public education was kicked to the back of the bus last year. Our society has commodified and packaged education like every other product: top shelf sirloin for the wealthy, crinkle-cut frozen fries for the poor. It would have taken massive collective action on the part of education workers (and solid support from parents) to make the rest of society pay attention, but labor movements are as popular as poison ivy in the late-capitalist nightmare we find ourselves in. Wealthy white liberals are willing to experiment with ‘diversity’ as long as their children stay on the top-college track. There’s nothing wrong with that but when the effluence hits the fan it’s every socio-economic category for themselves.Reply4 RecommendShareFlagjb commented 30 minutes agoJjbok30m ago

Well, don’t let the surging of a lethal virus killing hundreds of thousands of Americans get in your way. I taught remote because people were catching Covid, sickening, being permanently harmed, and dying. I had one of the best classes ever—a junior level college class—and several of the worst at entry level. The difference? The students’ being willing to be visible and audible. We saw and heard and came to know each other. We had discussions and presentations just fine. The classes in which teens could choose to exist as a name on a screen for four months? Not so much. Some didn’t even stay for class, and few participated. Why do that when staying in bed or being on your cell is more fun? God forbid we might ask them to be visible in classes; their sensitivities might be wounded. This was the apotheosis of “student-centered” learning that has forced teachers to bend to every demand. To the point that it has made students unwilling to try or bear any hardship, a microcosm of the nation at large. What’s disgraceful is the infantile shrieks over getting through a pandemic—one we can’t overcome even with vaccines. Because so many “victims” won’t get one.1 Reply4 RecommendShareFlagKarl Dziura commented 2 hours agoKKarl DziuraConway, MA2h ago

@seven.by.three Essential workers were forced to return without reward. Government chose to limit resources that allowed parents to support children. These facts are disgraceful. Yes, students need to be in school. This article does not accurately reflect the pandemic situation, though. Decision makers followed the fluctuating science. Schools remained closed due to inadequate ventilation to keep everyone safe, including students. The lack of ventilation came from decades of neglect due to limited school budgets, causing many student absences during cold and flu season. When discussing the sanctity of serving students, people have unlimited expectations for educators, but expect school budgets to remain limited. In Massachusetts, blaming unions is misplaced. The leaders sought input from members and found varying attitudes towards returning. The Massachusetts Teachers Association never imposed any decisions. The MTA did promote a safe return to in-person learning, but local associations made independent decisions. Where schools remained remote, educators feared becoming ill and infecting family members. Locals made their own decisions about opposing returning to in-person learning on the basis of member input. Thanks to those who risked their health and that of their families to teach in person. However, individuals should not be forced to accept that level of risk. Our society could have done much more to mitigate it and compensate for it, but we did not.In Reply to Karl Dziura4 RecommendShareFlagANetliner commented 30 minutes ago


ANetlinerWashington, DC30m ago

Ms. Almagor should read Washington, DC’s data on COVID-19 outbreaks. School buildings, K-12 were among the top categories ranked— exceeding, for example— restaurants. Visit https://Coronavirus.dc.gov/data/outbreakdata and view Table of Outbreak types. I’m not arguing that remote learning worked well, but I am arguing that there was a pressing reason for it.Reply4 RecommendShareFlagKathleen commented 2 hours agoKKathleenDenver2h ago

Agreed. Teachers unions were instrumental in keeping schools closed.In Reply to Kathleen4 RecommendShareFlagHBS commented 2 hours agoHHBSPhiladelphia2h ago