Since March, the United States has been in a pandemic due to COVID-19. Over 189,000 lives have been lost to this virus. Our country is being led by an unfit leader who has appointed a Secretary of Education with no experience as a public educator. It almost seems like we’re in the twilight zone. Personally, I’ve been waiting to wake up from this bad dream.
When public schools were “shut down” in March, the world shifted. Life as we knew it changed. Students didn’t have access to teachers who love them. Teachers were uncertain about what the rest of the school year would look like. Administrators wondered how they could still manage their schools. The end of the 2019-2020 school year was significantly modified as learning was remote, standardized testing was waived, and everyone did the best that they could.
Over the past few months, I have really been thinking about what education could look like post-COVID-19. Nothing is normal right now. The remote learning and modified school schedules should not be accepted as normal. There is radical work to be done as we reimagine what school could look like.
Here is a shortlist of what could be done to reimagine school:
Completely get rid of the standardized testing requirement
Lower class sizes
Increase teacher salaries
Increase the number of school counselors and social workers
Decrease the number of police in schools
Conduct differentiated anti-racist training for every single adult in the school building and district office
Completely deconstruct the current curriculum and rewrite it with the lens of educational freedom, abolitionist teaching, and equity for all students
Understand the reality of the achievement gap. According to Dr. Bettina Love, “it is not just about White students outperforming dark students; it is about a history of injustice and oppression. It is about the “education debt” that has accumulated over time due to the educational survival complex. (p.92)”
Allow students to dream and have a voice in what their education should look like
Completely revamp the special education program
Switch to a four-day teaching schedule. Fridays can be used for catching up and teacher professional development
Prioritize teacher mental health services
Prioritize student mental health services and social-emotional learning
Increase teaching and student autonomy
Increased community support
Prioritize time for teacher and student creativity in schools
Revamp school discipline policies
Revamp the role of the instructional leader
Revamp the role of the administrator
Prioritize differentiated professional development for teachers
Increase school-based intervention specialists
Prioritize community-based learning
Train all teachers to recognize high potential in every student
Prioritize enrichment experiences for all students
Prioritize equal access to the curriculum for each student
Regularly listen to teachers. They are the experts in education
Dr. Love talks about the importance of freedom dreaming. I allowed myself to do just that and I encourage you to do the same. What would it look like if we completely reimagined schools as we know them?
What else would you add to the list?
Love, B. (2019). We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
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