Put greater focus on eLearning going forward

Opinion: Columns

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Ryan Anderson

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As a Lincoln Elementary School parent, I have been invested in the recent departure of the principal and the subsequent aftermath that entailed. I attended the district meetings as well as Reesheda Graham Washington's update to the parents on Feb. 26. 

I agree there is a culture and climate crisis at Lincoln. I also agree we need to look at Lincoln through an equity lens. But as I read through the agenda and the meeting notes of the May 12 district meeting, some of the topics covered were culture, asbestos, and landscaping. There was no mention of perhaps the most current struggle to address — eLearning.

Hiring a consultant to lay a plan for culture and climate is not what Lincoln, nor any school, should invest in right now. We need a plan now to address the 2020-21 school year. I cannot foresee any situation for the next school year that does not involve eLearning, whether it's full-time, blended, part-time, etc. The culture and climate of Lincoln is not what currently goes on in the physical building. The culture and climate should now be the students at home with their parents working with the teachers and administrators who have laid out the eLearning plan to help achieve student outcomes for the upcoming school year.

Whether the COVID crisis extends into 2020-21, eLearning is the investment we need now. We need the resources to fully prepare the teachers, students, and parents for success. My child's teacher is doing an amazing job, and I hear similar feedback from other Lincoln parents about other teachers. However, there appears to be no consistency. 

Some teachers are doing more video conferencing, and some are focusing more on activities. If we need to extend eLearning in our district, we need a consistent virtual climate, as well as consistent resources. Some families were not prepared with the necessary equipment. We need a plan now to provide families with the essential items to execute eLearning. 

Regardless of the pandemic, we need an eLearning solution implemented in our schools. It was very disheartening and embarrassing to start eLearning with nothing in hand. Providing students with tablets and implementing a Learning Management System in the school should seem like a given these days. If students are unable to make it to school during normal conditions, we should not rely on asking teachers for work. eLearning should be a necessity whether we are in a pandemic or not.

I do understand that not all children do well with eLearning, but some children don't do well in the traditional classroom. Yet we should be honest here: We may not have a choice for anything but eLearning. 

So let's take that $250/hour that was proposed by the third-party consultant to investigate the culture and climate and use it to hire curriculum experts to lay out a plan. 

Let's use that $43,000 landscape budget to investigate a blended learning culture within the district. Our school's future landscape will not be built upon green grass and gardens. Our future landscape needs to be built upon providing our parents and teachers the skills to equip the students to succeed during our current crisis.

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