The Old Way of Doing School Doesn’t Work – Our Kids Deserve Better

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Unprecedented times for our students are creating unprecedented numbers of parent and teacher heroes. As Michigan school districts respond to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order requiring them to establish so-called “continuity of learning plans,” they’re realizing that students’ best advocates haven’t taken building closures laying down.

Parents and public school teachers are finding innovative ways to keep their kids engaged, in “class,” and learning throughout the Covid-19 public health crisis. Many of the most innovative public school teachers are public charter school teachers.

They’re hosting virtual story hours. They’re using dynamic online learning programs. They’re reaching out to students and families one by one to make sure they’re engaged, and to help them overcome any barriers to learning.

Online public charter schools have been using and refining “virtual” education for years, and they’re full of teachers and administrators who’ve offered their own experience and expertise to others, too.

Despite the innovation and the successes, we recognize too well that hundreds of thousands of students may still experience serious learning gaps between now and the start of the next school year.

That’s why we’re on the ground night and day in Lansing fighting for long-term solutions – including a transition to mastery-based learning – that will make a difference this summer, this fall, and for generations to come.

Beth DeShone
Executive Director, Great Lakes Education Project

“Examples abound of brick-and-mortar charter schools that have adjusted their approach to engage and support students during the emergency building closure.


“The differences in educational experiences are endless, and according to education leaders, that is to be expected considering Michigan has 846 school districts across 83 counties, ranging from remote areas to dense cities, all working to deploy remote learning plans.”
“U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos announced the about $3 billion will be made available to governors across the country to ensure education continues for students.”

The work parents and teachers are doing today to help kids learning in the midst of a global health crisis can’t be understated. They’re reacting and responding in real time during an epidemic that’s changed the way the entire world operates.

The innovations happening today will benefit students for years to come.

So, too, will the long-term discussions happening in schools, communities, and at the state Capitol about the purpose of our schools and our public education system.

Last year it was freezing temperatures and blizzards.

This year it’s a devastating virus.

Next year school buildings could be closed by another unexpected crisis.

The old way of doing things doesn’t work anymore. Arbitrary calendars and meaningless seat-time requirements don’t benefit students, and they don’t help them learn.

We think there’s a better way, and we know teachers do, too.


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