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Former Minneapolis School Superintendent Peter Hutchinson’s classroom fix for remote learning COVID problems is a terrific and necessary solution that can be implemented economically and quickly.  It’s simple and will be popular in every community.

We should not wait – this is truly an expanding crisis for school children in many communities.

Here’s why; Pre-COVID, Minnesota schools have for years maintained an over the top student achievement gap with some of the lowest reading, math and history scores in the nation.

Racial disparity is an integral piece of these statistics.  Poverty in these statistics is baked in also.

Today, remote learning doesn’t work for a large population of at-risk children.  These kids were already behind and now are falling off a performance cliff and cannot reach proficiency without the help of a more effective teaching system.

Tampering with back to school learning with hot rhetoric & the politics of a frightened nation will be with us for long enough to do real damage to our children – perhaps a generation of children.  Teachers and students are a political football at risk in both physical and educational well-being.

Not only will Peter Hutchinson’s fix interrupt the coming diminished student achievement post COVID, it will give at risk children one more set of eyes and ears into the home life of abused and neglected children locked into toxic homes during this pandemic.  The traumas of abused children interrupt learning and last forever if they are not found and addressed.

To those who would argue, supporting schools is expensive, consider the cost of a generation of children that can’t read, can’t add and can’t function in the community.  Another generation of troubled youth, crime, jails, prisons and preteen moms trying to make a life in a society that has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to meet their needs.


We are facing an undeclared education emergency.

When we closed schools six months ago, Minnesota already suffered one of the largest racially and economically unjust learning gaps in the country. With schools closed, those gaps got bigger — much bigger. If all we do is reopen with schools operating as they were six months ago — whether in-person or online — we will have allowed a bad situation to get substantially worse and crippled the futures of our most vulnerable students.

This is an emergency.

COVID-19 has cost us plenty. It has infected nearly 60,000 Minnesotans, killed over 1,600, and thrown 300,000 or more out of work. It has also robbed more than 800,000 of our children of vitally important learning.

When schools were closed six months ago, the average Black student in fourth grade was nearly one year behind the average white student, a measure of the persistent racial inequities in our schools. (This is based on the National Assessment of Education Progress, which is the only national measure we have of learning.) Once the schools closed learning largely stopped. Remote and distance learning didn’t work for many — but it was a true disaster for those children who were already furthest behind.

Research reported by Rilyn Eischens in the Daily Reformer on July 31 shows that the average student is likely to have lost half a year’s worth of learning with an incomplete school year followed by a summer without learning opportunities. For children of color, for low-income students, for those without access to the internet, the results will have been even more devastating. They are likely to have lost up to a full year’s worth of learning.

The debate over opening schools seems to have missed this point entirely. Whether instruction is done in person or online won’t matter much if that instruction is not radically changed to account for these changed circumstances. Simply put, an average fourth-grade teacher would normally have started the next school year with about half the class at grade level and some students as much as one year behind. This year, however, that teacher will start with some students at grade level, but most others reading below grade level — and some as much as two years behind. A three-year gap in a single classroom means that last year’s teaching strategies will be no match for this year’s teaching realities.  READ MORE;