On Monday morning, some members of the school board and administration met online with area legislators (Reps. Vruwink & Loudenbeck, Sens. Ringhand & Nass) for an audiovisual conference in place of a traditional breakfast meeting
Board members and administrators recounted, among other items, lessons from schooling during the pandemic, and serious matters present before and during the pandemic: hunger, homelessness, risk of self-harm, and lack of adequate technology access.
The full recording is above. The full agenda for the meeting is also available.
A few remarks —
1. Opening Remarks. Whitewater’s school board president summarized a few district lessons, learned or emphasized, from the pandemic: the need for individualized teaching without over-reliance on standardized testing or methods, the financial needs of special-education schooling, the importance of school attendance for socialization, that some families have no child-care substitutes for periods without schooling, and the role of the district in feeding children in the community. (Video, 1:18.)
2. Observations on COVID-19 Impacts. The district superintendent observed that about 30% of the district is Latino, but they have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. (Video, 5:15.)
It seems clear that a significant part of the Latino community does not share the Anglo community’s eagerness to return to face-to-face instruction as quickly as possible. There are certainly some Latino parents (and more white parents) who have over these months insisted that in-person learning during the pandemic is in the best interest of all families, but significant numbers of Latino families have chosen virtual instruction.
If large numbers within this group are selecting virtual schooling, the important task is to understand their thinking (as their thinking and actions are likely to be practical or necessary to them).
3. Homeless Students. Whitewater is a small district with large numbers of homeless students. (Video, 8:20.)
The district can and should do whatever it can, but homelessness is a problem of an overall economy’s failure, not a school district’s failure.
4. Technology. A presentation on technology assessed that 10% of students lack internet, with 20% lacking adequate internet. (Video, 26:50.) One should almost be thankful the figures aren’t worse.
5. Open Enrollment. Open enrollment puts competitive pressure on school districts. Of course it does: free choice favors better alternatives over lesser ones.
A competitive approach produces a better result. It’s better than slogans, marketing campaigns, excuse-making, reliance on superficial measurements, on selectively-presented measurements, or on wholly-contrived measurements.
6. The Amazing. There are surely amazing accomplishments in Whitewater each day. Amazing, however, is scarce among politicians, appointed public officials, administrators, the same-ten-people, public-relations men, self-declared town notables, bloggers, etc. We’re not the stockroom of amazing.
Amazing is more abundant in the very places we’ve not been looking.
Legislation is important, but Whitewater needs more. Politics is important, but Whitewater needs more. Economics is important, but Whitewater needs more. Commentary is important, but Whitewater needs more.
Someday. See Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day.