Home > Uncategorized > Too Bad Biden Administration Failed to Consult with AASA or ASCD on School Re-Opening… They Had Some VERY GOOD Advice!

Too Bad Biden Administration Failed to Consult with AASA or ASCD on School Re-Opening… They Had Some VERY GOOD Advice!

March 9, 2021

An article from the Washington Post that found its way into our local paper describes the challenges the Biden administration is facing in reopening public schools… challenges that were easily and accurately foreseen by the American Association of School Administrators’ (AASA) Executive Director Dan Domenech. 

The Washington Post article describes how Biden’s initial promise of December 2020 that “…“the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days” morphed on multiple occasions and now is… well, no one is quite sure what the current “promise” is. This sequence of events was completely predictable because the federal government has little to say about when schools will reopen because public schools are governed by LOCAL school boards who are, in most cases, free to set reopening policies and procedures independent of states.

When AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech was asked about President Biden’s shifting promises by the Washington Post, he was clear and blunt in his response: 

Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, said the Biden team did not consult his group before setting its reopening goal. Domenech said had he been asked, my recommendation would have been don’t put yourself out in terms of promises you might not be able to keep.

“Most people don’t understand when it comes to a school district, the federal government and even the state government have little power over them,” he said, adding that his concern is that Biden is “raising expectations that cannot be met.”

ASCD’s leadership has similar advice for the Biden administration as they plan for the Fall: 

If the next school year doesn’t look more familiar, then that’s going to be a big problem,” said David Griffith, the senior director of advocacy and government relations for the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Griffin said that although Biden and his team cannot control when schools open, the president can create the conditions for it. “If those conditions aren’t there, that is going to be on them,” he said.

Help for the Biden administration may be on the way. His new Secretary of Education, unlike his many predecessors, seems open to listening to leaders in public education. 

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona laid out his five-point plan in USA Today, promising to gather experts for a reopening summit later this month. And in the early morning hours of Saturday, the Senate cleared a coronavirus relief package that included nearly $130 billion to help K-12 schools manage and recover from the pandemic.

“If we can continue as a country to follow those mitigation strategies that we know work, and we can control the spread of covid-19, I do anticipate that we can continue to see more and more students in school,” Cardona said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I do anticipate that, come the fall, if the progress that we’re making now continues, that we’re going to be seeing a school that looks more similar to what we were before the pandemic.”

Mr. Cardona, while not a politician, IS a careful wordsmith and his measured statement combined with his apparent willingness to listen to and heed advice might put public education on solid footing. 

My only concern about what the POTUS and his secretary are saying is that the benchmark appears to be going back to the way things were before the pandemic. It’s possible, indeed plausible, that public schools might have gained some insights on learning from the imposed experiment on distance learning. MAYBE Secretary Cordova’s statement that school will be MORE SIMILAR (as opposed to JUST LIKE) is an intentional phrasing that gives schools the opportunity to make some changes that would help change the way education is delivered. I hope that is the case…. because we should have witnessed the importance of schools as community hubs and the benefits remote learning COULD offer to some students. 

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