Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Dear Colleague,

As the coronavirus has turned traditional education in the U.S, and elsewhere on its head, we will do our best to provide support and answer questions to the best of our ability until things return to normal.

While no one knows when “normal” will return, pundits have been busy, weighing in on what things will be like when that day comes. In “Coronavirus School Closures Will Cause Irreparable Damage to Students, Schools. How Policymakers Can and Must Soften the Blow,” Ray Domanico, director of education policy at the Manhattan Institute, ends his piece with a peek into the future:

It is likely that public resources will be limited at all levels of government, and education will be competing with health care, medical research and other essential services for scarcer resources. Our leaders have delivered a message that there are things more important than schooling and achievement. This is undoubtedly true, but they will soon need to deal with the implications for students, parents and teachers for the foreseeable future.

To read on, go here.

Kevin Huffman, a former education commissioner of Tennessee, is even gloomier than Domanico. He sums up his Washington Post piece with a somber message,

Our expectations for the remainder of this school year should be low. Our teachers are trying their best, but their hands are often tied by bureaucracy, limited student access to technology, the lack of lead time to prepare for this situation and the limited effectiveness of delivering school remotely. Results will range from lackluster to catastrophic, with the largest burden falling on the poorest kids.

To read more, go here.

Then there are the optimists. Shawn K. Smith, author of "Wisdom and Influence: Mastering the Digital Convergence Framework," thinks that remote learning can be more than a bandage.
Just as remote work – even well before this crisis – started to become the “new normal” for American adults, remote learning will one day become the “new normal” in K-12 education, and we’ll finally break the bond between where students live and what they can learn. 

These may be dark times, but under better circumstances and with the right approach, the future is bright. We will get through this pandemic. And when we emerge on the other side of it, we will do so not only prepared to never let this happen again, but ready to transform education for the better.

To learn more, go here.

Sean Brooks at American Thinker suggests that the coronavirus could revolutionize education.

It’s my estimation that this will be an awakening for countless American K-12 school students -- and their parents -- that these students actually don’t have to attend a ‘brick and mortar’ public school in order to receive a high-quality education, followed by a diploma.  Once these students begin their online tasks, they may come to the realization that online learning is far more in-depth, far more rigorous, far more interesting, and yet far more quiet, as they don’t have to look to see who is about to get into a physical fight, or detest attending classes where teachers are indoctrinating them with their own personal ideologies.  Therefore, the presence of this virus and the forced school closings that have occurred as a result, have perhaps created the next wave of individualists and online learners in America.

To see more of Brooks’ thoughts, go here.

Wherever you are on this issue, there is no denying that this is a time of great upheaval. What follows is a list of resources, which will hopefully be of help to teachers who have been thrust into areas they never could have imagined just weeks ago.

First, National School Choice Week has posted, “Free Online Resources for Schools Shifting Online During Coronavirus Pandemic.”

As the new coronavirus, COVID-19, spreads throughout the country, more and more schools are canceling classes and shifting their in-person instructional time online. Many classroom teachers are now trying to understand the ins-and-outs of distance learning for the first time and looking for free online resources for schools. What does instruction look like? How do I ensure my students are still receiving high-quality education? Will I be able to track the learning that is taking place?

The good news is: help is available! Many companies are offering teachers and schools access to their online platforms for free for the duration of their closure. In the short term, a new education landscape is forming, and we have put together a list of free online resources for schools, educators, and administrators to help them navigate these unfamiliar waters.

To view the resources, go here.

There is tons more info on the net. What follows is just a brief sampling:

Download vs. Streaming, Sans Serif Fonts, Standardized Student Passwords — 10 Things to Know When Converting to an Online Classroom

E-Learning Becomes New Standard as Schools Close Due to COVID-19

NSCW - Educating Students with Disabilities During the Time of COVID-19

CCSA Provides Educators with Special Education Distance Learning Resources

California schools chief recommends that schools prepare for distance learning for rest of school year

Putting Rivalries Aside, Media, Education and Tech Giants Come Together to Offer Free Lessons, Activities During Pandemic — All in One Curated Place

Free, Online Learning Resources When Coronavirus Closes Schools

Online Education That Fits Each Child

Here are a few resources for parents who are homeschooling:

We’re All Homeschoolers Now

Welcome to Homeschooling, America!

Free, Online Learning Resources

Home School Legal Defense Association

Need help sorting through the avalanche of online resources for kids who are now learning at home? 11 sites for parents to look at

Additionally, if you have any valuable resources that you would like to share, please do so by emailing or posting them on Facebook if you prefer. The CTEN page can be accessed here, and the CTEN group can be found here.

Best of luck to all of you, your families and your students during these very trying times.

Larry Sand
CTEN President