#7. Education

“The results are in for remote learning: it didn’t work,” said the Wall Street Journal.

“I taught online school: it was a disgrace,” wrote a teacher for the New York Times.

“Scores of students are getting F’s: what’s the point of failing?” asked USA Today.

Most, we believe, would agree that the phrase “virtual learning” is an oxymoron. For some students it works because they have the rare discipline to sit uninterrupted in front of a screen throughout the day; or a parent sits next to them. The vast majority, however, learned next to nothing from virtual teaching, which brings us to an active petition at change.org to return it to Kingsport City Schools as a parental option.

Some parents may be satisfied with a poor excuse for education, but it is the responsibility of the school system to provide the best education possible for all of its students. That rules out any return to a failed system, never mind the staggering cost of essentially operating two systems, one for in-house students and one for remote students.

The petition, “Give Kingsport city schools remote choice option for school” was signed by 216 persons at this writing. It was started by Kim Thomas on Sept. 3. It states in part, “We recognize there is no single solution that meets the needs of everyone and are thus requesting an additional option so that each family may choose what works best for their situation.”

But education a la carte is simply impractical, both physically and financially. A quality education is the No. 1 priority for children and can’t be carved up to suit individual family “needs.”

“We further request that this remote learning option be taught by current Kingsport City School teachers, not outsourced to a third-party,” says the petition.

How generous. Are Kingsport teachers to work a day shift in the classroom and a night shift on the computer? Or are parents signing the petition satisfied with a camera stuck in the back of the classroom?

The petition states that an elective remote learning option will reduce the number of students in school, thus improving social distancing, allow teachers to teach from home, protect high-risk students, and ease the transition to remote learning should school closures again be required.

Perhaps. But that’s insufficient to increase the number of students who graduate from high school with an inability to even read their diploma.

There is no substitute for classroom learning or home schooling. As important are the social aspects where students learn how to interact with others and develop relationships. Face-to-face learning is particularly necessary for younger children who otherwise may have difficulty.

Virtual learning can’t begin to replace the classroom experience, and schools should not offer it as an alternative when schools are open.

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