State legislators are correctly targeting education as a major issue for the agenda in the General Assembly’s up-coming long session which begins in January. Although the state’s economy is a major concern, the education issue demands immediate attention, not only from legislators but from local school boards, parents and above all, teachers.

N.C. Sen. Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico County, told a group of local newspaper publishers shortly after the November elections that his number one concern for the upcoming legislative year would be education. He acknowledged that the state’s economy is a major concern but he said that will be faster to correct than will the loss of the current academic year for the hundreds of thousands of school age children, particularly children in low income circumstances, who he contends have been poorly served for this academic year.

Deputy State Superintendent David Stegall confirmed Sen. Sanderson’s concerns Tuesday, telling the state’s Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee that, “There are going be learning gaps that are going to take years to recover from, without a doubt. As a parent, as an educator, it’s obvious.”

Oversight committee co-chair, N.C. Rep. Craig Horne, R- Union County, described this school year, which is only half over, as a “wasted year” stating that this (academic year) “has been a disaster.”

Carolyn Thompson of the Associated Press wrote recently that the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a not-for-profit educational global organization that conducts student assessments, concluded that elementary and middle school students have fallen measurably behind in math. The story noted that NWAE questioned the overall value of the assessment because “a disproportionately large number of poor and minority students were not in schools for assessments in the fall.”

A September 16 News-Times editorial expressed concern about a state report that detailed a decline in SAT scores, which we attributed to disruption of the 2020 spring semester caused by classroom closures due to the pandemic. That editorial noted then that legislators, educators and parents should be concerned and that steps needed to be taken to quantify, as best possible, current levels of academic and then begin a structure for remediation.

The continued disruption students and teachers are dealing with this year only exacerbates the problems first identified at the beginning of the school year.

We appreciate the legislature’s focus on this issue but the most important players in this discussion have been, and remain, silent – teachers, particularly the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) which “supposedly” represents the teachers statewide and continues, somewhat disingenuously, to express equal concern for students as well. If either one or both of those statements are true, we await a reaction from the NCAE.

The decline in student academic abilities as noted by the deputy superintendent will only compound the problems for teachers as students matriculate to the next grade level. And in the case of students heading off to post high-school education, those institutions and their teachers will be receiving students ill prepared for that next level of academic rigor.

This lack of preparation and compounding effect was noted in Thompson’s AP story. “The NWEA findings show that, compared to last year, students scored an average of 5 to 10 percentile points lower in math, with students in grades three, four and five experiencing the largest drops. English language arts were largely the same as last year.”

The AP article goes on to quote NWEA Chief Executive Chris Minnich expressing concern about the sequential nature of math, where skills carry over into the next year. “The challenge around mathematics is acute….it’s something we’re going to be dealing with even after we get back in school,” he noted.

As has been noted in previous News-Times editorials, the need for this issue to be assessed and remediation to begin is critical. Any time wasted, and much has been, results in wasted lives and economic opportunities. The impacts of the “wasted year” as Rep. Horne calls it will not be fully understood for years. And by then it will be too late to fix either the individual or the social, cultural and economic impacts.

North Carolina is not alone in this academic crisis. It is being played out across the nation. But regardless of its breadth, it remains a state and local problem - one that needs immediate attention at every level by elected officials, school administrators, parents and teachers.

(35) comments

Benelli

Fully agree. We should be ashamed of ourselves that we prioritized getting people into bars and restaurants over getting kids back in schools safely. I am not saying bars and restaurants aren't important businesses. But the adults in charge on one side parading around on one side of the political aisle spreading a highly communicable disease and on the other side some teachers organizations demanding absolute safety before they come back to class (case in point NYC demanding a less than 3percent positive Covid rate) has done lasting damage to a generation of kids. Many of these cheery scenes of kids schooling themselves online while mom and dad zoom into a business meeting in their jammies are not happening in poor families. The kids are inside, alone, with a laptop. Infinitely sad.

David Collins

Enough of this disadvantaged stuff . ALL public school students have been adversely affected in all ways , so give it a break . Not to mention the parents that have to deal with their frustrated little horrors 24/7 . Something has to change and quickly . The schools and the politicians behind the schools have had ample time to figure this out but have failed , again . The only for sure thing , that I have seen or read about , is that they sure can feed them but from what I have seen posted it is a lot of junk . Imagine that!

drewski

"Enough of this disadvantaged stuff " i guess it is the season to channel Ebeneezer Scrooge. Despite what SOME may think, there is a digital divide. While it is true that in person instruction is much better then remote learning. the fact is even if children dont die at the rate 70 yr olds do from covid, it is a vector of transmission. That sniffle and fever can and will put gma and uncle joe or some random guy on a ventilator or possibly in a box.

Children who had the lastest IPAD in the cradle, are going to be in a better position for remote learning, then kids who see a computer for 45 mins a day in school. Thats not rocket science is it? More important is parental involvement and that will always be the case. If your parents mastered the 3 r's have a good grasp of software, and spend the time sharing that knowledge, the kids will have a better chance then if not. My boy knows if his schoolwork, homework, and chores are not done there is a graduated series of consequences starting with his beloved phone, and ending with my boot and his rear. I check, so I know.

And for the ppl who complained about the school providing meals...wow just wow. Perhaps 3 spirits will visit you on Christmas eve?

mpjeep

Yep, our school system is flawed and it doesn’t teach kids necessary skills. But this has been true way before the coronavirus.

“Cell Phones”, I tell you, are the worst invention of my lifetime and one of the biggest issues with kids and education these days. Cell phones tend to reduce and distract attention levels for many students.

Cell phone usage does not promote learning and decreases students ability to pay attention to school work or even studying at home. The need to constantly text friends or be on social media, is a big deterrent to learning.

Even preschoolers have cell phones these days. Kids with cell phones are likely to spend too much time on them, keeping them from doing more productive things like reading or studying. Cell phones are addictive!

Yes, there are a few other things hindering education and learning: parents are not involved enough and in some states that have “tenure” for teachers, protects underperforming teachers.

Stepping stone education falls behind each year. If you didn’t learn skills before being promoted to the next grade, it’s like going to a doctor’s appointment and if the first patient is running behind schedule the rest of the appointments for that day will be behind schedule.

Yes, I do own a smartphone, guess I just follow suit with the rest of the world, but I can honestly say this is one product I wish that Gore would have never invented.

dc

If anybody can make the decision to get back to school full-time going to year-around, added hours, Saturday, etc to make up lost time is about the only thing that makes sense especially for elementary.

mpjeep

Yes, dc, I think we should have year round schooling with or without Covid.

David Collins

That is right , enough of this disadvantaged garbage . It is a relative term and an excuse for mediocrity. Nothing in education or any other discipline is equal . Output is pretty much equal to effort . One affects the other and so forth . Formal schooling is the input and without it the output is nilch , nada , nothing quantitative . Show us another way and we’ll plug um in . Leave the politics and bleeding hart stuff out of it , for a change . If everything were equal then we would be equally poor , rich , smart , stupid or whatever . We are not and that is a good thing . So , dissect and symantecize , my word , all you wish . Nothing will change .

drewski

What a cynical, bitter and incorrect opinion. " nothing will change" " nothing is equal" change is constant from the cellular level to the universe. In the example being discussed, all students get the same presentation. What they get from it varies. Some can save it or take screen shots, some struggle with adjusting the volume. To suggest that is an excuse for mediocry, rather then acknowledge wealth and privilege CAN and often do confer advantage, is to deny reality. Talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not.

noitall

Remote learning is hopeless. Tell me why I am wrong

dc

On the one hand complaining about every kid not having the latest electronics & on the other bragging about being a great parent by putting a boot in their tail. That's precious & in the Christmas spirit. It's probably possible that an elementary age student could easily learn much more & much better without both. Actually it's more than probably possible all students could learn a lot more & better without both.

drewski

Pretending the digital age does not exist seems like a poor recipe for education. I am proud of my parenting skills, rather old fashioned ones in some respects" the boot" in reality i havent laid a hand on him in 10 yrs, because he knows i will if need be.( from a public good hard spanking in a food lion doorway years ago )We have frank discussions about adult topics. I see how his friends act and speak, to their folks and I am very grateful my boy knows better.

mpjeep

I'm sure you've done a great job with your son, ski. And I'm sure he knows the difference between right and wrong. But not a lot of kids these days have the same advantage your son has with great parents.

David Collins

Talent is equally distributed , Really ? Might want to rethink that one or was that an incomplete statement ?

drewski

That quote is from Leila Janah, you can google it for context if your interested.

David Collins

Amen on the cell phones . Have the cleaning girls in today and all three have them and it is nonstop jabber jabber . Guess I am paying for them to talk .

JusticeForAll

You have 3 cleaning girls?

mpjeep

Since we are discussing virtual education and the digital age, can you imagine if the president had to shut down the Internet? I ran across the info below that I was unaware of.

No internet, no school and no TV for me. All of my TV sources are from streaming services via the Internet. I guess I could still use my DVD player, but how many times could I actually watch Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase?

Nine-in-ten U.S. adults say that a major interruption to their internet or cell phone service, during an outbreak, would be a big problem in their daily life.

But what if the president was able to turn off the Internet as a necessary security tool or would that be a violation of rights?

In 1942, Congress created a law to grant the president the power to temporarily shut down any potentially vulnerable technological communications. That mostly meant radio and telephone lines.

The legislative text says during a time of war, and lasting for up to six months after war’s end, a president can close any facility or station for communication and the removal of its apparatus and equipment.

Today that could mean any variety of technologies, including, the Internet.

The Unplug the Internet Kill Switch Act (Proposed) would reverse the 1942 law and prevent the president from shutting down any communications technology during wartime, including the Internet.

Supporters of the bill say no president should have the power to ignore our freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and violate our civil liberties and privacy by declaring a national emergency.

Opponents of the bill counter that an internet kill switch is actually a necessary government tool as a matter of national security.

Not sure how the rest of you folks feel, but I think it’s another example of giving the government too much power, and we all know that if we give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.

David Collins

Don’t know about shutting it down but definitely making all information encrypted . Everything on a need to know basis with different levels of access . Guess it would be a take off on China’s Great Firewall . Interesting question . When everyone is issued an IP number , I’d start getting nervous .

drewski

I had a guy start texting during a job interview, he was well qualified. I hired someone not nearly as well qualified instead. Make no mistake about the internet, the usa kill switch already exists, Russia has recently completed a stand alone net, and China exerts great control over theirs. Encryption thats not readable will go no where. At a more local lvl ,cell phone spoofers used by fbi during seige with the bundys a few yrs ago can shut down cell service in overlaping 6 mile circles. A lot of big city police depts have them. Can you say triangulation?

I was involved in some testing of sonic and thermal weapons about 10 yrs ago. The sonic fit in back of pickup. At 2000 yards was barely audible, at 1000 was irritating/ uncomfortable, at 600 your fillings and bones were vibrating and we turned away involuntarily( cut and ran)

Thats what I know about, darn little in the darpa world. If the authorities wanted to clear the streets they certainly could.

dc

I said: "It's probably possible that an elementary age student could easily learn much more and much better without both." The education part of that has been proven without a doubt by the shutdown. Online education during the shutdown has been better than nothing. That's not saying much for online. Can there be exceptions? One would guess but so what? Obviously, HS & beyond students should fair better with online instruction. Don't know percentage of students who prefer online vs in-person but suspect most young folks prefer in-person. Personally, I prefer online vs in-person. I've encouraged my daughter to take as many online courses as possible while working on her undergraduate & graduate degrees but she prefers in-person by far. Of course, she's had to take more online since the pandemic.

dc

Parents spanking children in public is no smarter than parents letting children run wild in public. The best option is talking to a child beforehand but if that doesn't work punish the behavior out of public. Some parents seem to think they're impressing the public by disciplining their child in front of onlookers. Parents are sometimes as disgusting as the unruly child they're "disciplining". Do all children misbehave in public? Mine didn't.

drewski

Parenting is thankfully an individual choice.

My view is corrective action should be immediate, and proportional to the offense. I guess the majority agree with you dc since I almost never see any type of corrective action in public. Do not misunderstand my previous post. My boy as has had maybe 4-5 spankings in his life. A gazillion time outs. And many a stern word. Also lots of hugs, stories, trips and most important time spent together either doing chores or fun things.

noitall

Schools cannot produce a student that can add fractions,. so cannot earn a living in construction trades. I can prove this. Teaching is accomplished best in a classroom with two way conversation. Remote learning is not teaching. It is an excuse..

drewski

Blanket statements are rarely correct. All____people are... I agree classroom is best. Remote learning can be effective for some, adequate for others ,and ineffective for some. Parents today have online access and nearly instant feedback on grades homework etc. As was said previously parental involvement is key to success. Having said that I am somewhat shamed to admit my kids homework became diffacult for me about 7th grade. Thank god for google.

mpjeep

A student has to be really motivated to make it in a virtual classroom. Many can.

You are up on me.....It gets difficult with me at about the 5th grade level.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

Public education is failing miserably. I have had to tutor freshmen level college students on basic math and algebra; that should have been learned in high school. The situation got so bad, a new level of mathematics had to be created; from Math 120 to Math 90. Sad. I don't entirely blame it on the students. There are problems with teaching. Some that couldn't cut it in other majors, went into teaching. Now that is scary, indeed.

David Collins

Always been that way , corrupt . Teaching has always been the Hail Mary for those that failed in their profession .

noitall

Those that can do things. Those that can't - teach Fortunately education is 80% real time experience and 20% classroom instruction.

mpjeep

If we don’t get kids back to school, and they keep failing, then one day we may not have scientists to help us follow the science and data.

JusticeForAll

Not exactly. Seems those who are capable of learning, do. Everything is based on science. Even the resistance to science is explained. Name one thing that is not explained through science.

mpjeep

Politics

David Collins

Love ?

JusticeForAll

Both of those can be, easily.

mpjeep

A yawn?

David Collins

Go for it dude !

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