Monday, March 23, 2020

Michigan Schools Should Close Because The Emergency Managers Sucked All The Money From The Students

It really does not matter because Detroit Public Schools suck.

Just ask Betsy DeVos or me.

People always forget about the Detroit Public Schools Emergency Managers.

Vitti: State K-12 schools should close for rest of school year

FILE -- Detroit School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is interviewed outside the Potter Stewart U.S. Federal Courthouse in Cincinnati Thursday.
Nikolai Vitti
Detroit — The superintendent of state's largest school district is proposing that K-12 schools in Michigan be closed for the rest of the school year, that online learning continue at home and that measures are taken to ensure that high school seniors can graduate this spring.

In an open letter to education leaders in Michigan, Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, says K-12 school should be declared closed and districts should be required to develop an online learning platform within a reasonable amount of time in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Vitti says school districts need guidance to determine how to best leverage limited resources to support students.

Educators are asking how to make up lost instructional days, whether the extended closure means an extended year into the summer, or if the district should salvage the rest of the school year by shifting all resources to an online learning platform.

"If we project our future based on trends in other countries that have been battling COVID-19 for a longer period of time, then we must come to realize that we will be fortunate if degrees of societal normalcy return by June," Vitti said in the letter. "With that said, it is best to officially close schools until next school year. Other states have already made this decision. How can we possibly justify opening earlier if other states have closed schools? "

Continuing education at home, Vitti said, would need to include distributing laptops with internet access to families.

"(This will require the flexibility to use federal and state education funds differently and support from the business and philanthropic community.) Lessons can be prerecorded via video and posted online by grade level and subject area," he said.

Districts should continue to get full funding from the state for the rest of the school year to allow them to develop and implement online learning platforms and to feed students, Vitti said.

Current seniors should be able to graduate based on the number of credits that are required minus their last semester, he said.

"School districts, through teachers and parents, should decide which students are promoted to the next grade based on their academic status prior to closure," Vitti said.

The Detroit superintendent says school districts should be required to offer courses through summer school in subsequent years if a student or parents would like to make up credits or courses that were planned to be taken during this past semester.

"I appreciate the time you have taken to read this open letter. It is written to offer you practical solutions to real problems that we are all responsible for solving," Vitti said. "Our State is facing unprecedented challenges, and our students, teachers and families are looking for decisive answers."

DPSCD educates more than 50,000 students. Last week the district began handing out food, school supplies and other supports to families after the schools were ordered shut down through April 5. That order has been extended to April 13 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who issued a statewide stay-at-home directive effective at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

Michigan is one of more than 45 states that have closed schools temporarily in response to the coronavirus. Only two states have shuttered schools through the end of the school year: Kansas and Virginia.

According to the American Federation of Teachers, 53 million of the nation's 57 million schoolchildren are shut out of their schools for the next several weeks.

Last week the Michigan Department of Education issued a memo stating that online learning done at home will not be counted as instructional time. Whitmer said she was "dismayed" by the decision, which got mixed reviews from superintendents and other education stakeholders.

The governor also said the MDE memo does not mean that school work done during the mandatory school closure won’t "count" toward grades, credits, or graduation.

Whitmer added that she "will be working in the coming days to ensure our seniors graduate and that no child is held back" as a result of the COVID-19 school closures.

Meanwhile on Monday two members of the Michigan State Board of Education urged state superintendent Michael Rice to issue waivers from the state's seat time requirements — that each district provide at least 1,098 hours and 180 days of pupil instruction — to all districts that submit a plan to continue educating their students with online learning.

Tom McMillin and Nikki Snyder, both Republican members of the board, said the Michigan Department of Education’s instruction that online classes will not count is the wrong approach during this crisis.

"We need to have a 'can-do attitude' and right now so many teachers and administrators are stepping up to the plate and figuring out how to continue providing instruction to their students," Snyder said. "That needs to be encouraged, not squashed.”

McMillin said state law allows seat-time waivers to be issued by Rice for innovative programs for up to one year.

McMillin and Snyder said they both understand there are equity concerns for districts where internet connectivity is a problem, but districts that can continue educating with distance learning should be able to do so.

"Why would we stop educating 80% of public school students, just because 20% can’t connect to the internet? That doesn’t make any sense,"  McMillin said. "For those who can’t get instruction during this time, for whatever reason, we trust there will either be innovative ways developed in the coming weeks or months or there will be ways to compensate when this crisis is over, through summer education or other forms of additional instruction."

MDE officials issued a statement from Rice in response to the call for him to issue seat time waivers.

“Teachers, support staff, and administrators are doing a terrific job of supporting our children and families during this crisis. I applaud their efforts. To the extent possible, they should continue to support the education of all children from a distance," Rice said.

"That said, the legislature needs to consider these days as instructional days so that local school districts know that they will have the funding to pay all school employees,” he said.

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