Posts Tagged ‘Economic Issues’

2020-21: Greatest Gap Year Ever, Great Opportunity for Community Service

August 14, 2020 Leave a comment

With unemployment as high as its ever been and colleges desperately seeking students it seems like an optimal time to start college, especially since a study cited in this USA Today article shows that deferring college for a year will “cost” over $90,000. But, as a Gap Year advocate indicates, taking 2020-21 off might be a great choice:

About 16% of high school seniors are considering a gap year, up from 3% in a typical year, the education publication Hechinger Report notes. Even though gap year options might not be as numerous as previous year, there are still plenty of choices, says Ethan Knight, executive director of the Gap Year Association.

 The key, he says, is to design a gap year that is intentional, educational and purpose-driven — and not to spend the year playing video games.

“The rest of the world is on a gap year right now,” Knight says. “We don’t know what the jobs are on the other side of this thing. Postponing might be one of the smartest things if it can clarify what they want from life.”

Safety and clarity of purpose will result in far more benefit than enrolling in a virtual learning program, especially one that professors are unenthusiastic about delivering and one that is grossly overpriced.

So what can a “gap year” student do? In an ideal world where the POTUS and Congress cared about the well being of communities and the future of our nation a proposal for funding a national community service program would be sitting on the POTUS’ desk awaiting signature. If such an idea were advanced in January it could go into effect in 2021-22… and it looks like it will be needed even more then!

At LEAST 97,000 Children Tested Positive for COVID in the last 2 Weeks of July. My Question Remains? Why Even Consider Opening

August 10, 2020 Leave a comment

Here’s the headline from the NYTimes latest coronavirus story:

Positive in Last 2 Weeks of July

I can hear the response now from the White House: “Well of COURSE they fond lots of positives! They did lots of tests and when you do lots of tests you find lots of positives!”

Meanwhile, school districts need to figure out whether to open, where the $$$ will come from to do so, and whether anyone will show up if they do. Parents, in the meantime, are in limbo waiting to see IF schools will open and, if they do, whether to send their children and, if they don’t, how to work from home or go to work if their children are not in school. Hobson’s choices all the way around.

My question from a week or so ago remains: “Why Even Consider Reopening?”

And that question should have even more traction now that it is clear that additional federal funding is highly unlikely…. and leads to another question: “Why spend any more money or any more time making reopening plans that require MORE spending when those plans may go out the window if COVID continues to spread in your school district?”


Television Instruction is a Pale Substitute for Online Instruction… But It’s Low Cost Might Appeal to Politicians

August 8, 2020 Leave a comment

I’ve read a couple of Facebook posts suggesting the US should offer the same kind of remote learning as Mexico is: dedicate a channel (or more) to instruction and encourage children at home to watch the programs and (presumably) learn what they could at school. This Instructional Television (ITV) solution is a preposterous 1950s solution that will do nothing to help children who lack computers to stay even with their classmates and is a pale comparison to Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI). Here’s a quick list of reasons why:

  • Programming is not asynchronous: Unlike online instruction like Khan Academy, which is available 24/7 for as long or as little as a student needs it, TV programs must be offered at a specific time slot for a specific duration. A clear advantage fo CAI.
  • The pace is not set by the student: Because the programming is NOT asynchronous the pacing of teaching and learning is set by whoever manages the TV programming— NOT the student. Another clear advantage to CAI.
  • There is no mechanism for on-demand intervention: CAI programs like Khan Academy are designed to provide reteaching of some kind when a student fails to demonstrate mastery and at some point can make a live person available to support the struggling student. This is impossible in ITV. Another advantage CAI.
  • In order to widen the array of programming some kind of broadband or cable interface wold be needed: The presumption is that ITV would provide all students with an opportunity to learn their curriculum… which requires a multiplicity of channels, something that, in turn, would require access to either YouTube or cable television connections, neither of which are necessarily available to children raised in poverty or children living in remote areas. Another CAI advantage.

There is one decided advantage to offering one channel for learning, though: it is cheaper than providing high speed internet services to poor children or children who live in remote rural areas! And since it is cheaper, it would not require an additional outlay of government funds for infrastructure, would not require additional staffing to provide the tech support needed for CAI, and would seem to address the problem of inequity of opportunity by “making it possible for any child to get instruction”.

ITV was tried in schools in the 1950s and fell flat. It was a bad idea then, it is an even worse idea now… unless, that is, saving money on schools is the ultimate goal.