Latest Posts





Coronavirus school closures provide opportunity to rethink our education system

I have several educators in my family who are still adjusting to the reality of teaching students remotely. Even with distance learning plans and virtual learning tools, remote teaching has been challenging. Some younger students need more supervision to stay focused and on task; other older students are trying to continue learning while also caring for younger siblings.

This new norm leaves us wondering what education will look like come fall—and what consequences remote learning will have on students, as necessary as the closures have been. According to a recent Gallup survey, 42 percent of parents worry COVID-19 will have a negative impact on their child’s education.

Ray Domanico with the Manhattan Institute states that policymakers “can and must soften the blow” the coronavirus school closures will have on students and schools. Aside from a digital divide, Domanico continues, not all families can supervise their children’s learning throughout the day.

For students with certain special needs, the challenges will be even greater. Some of these youngsters have been assigned a “one to one” paraprofessional in school to assist them through the day. Unless a parent can assume that role at home, academic learning and behavioral development will surely suffer.

These issues will have implications for student assessment, impediments which will in turn pose challenges for other processes, such as the process of applying to academically screened middle and high schools, and the transition from high school to college or the workforce.

Student graduation will also be impacted, according to Domanico.

For high school seniors in states that use exit or other proficiency exams in their graduation requirements, the cancellations pose obvious challenges. Many high-achieving students will have already fulfilled those requirements prior to the spring of senior year, but in almost every high school, the guidance office has a list of seniors who still need to pass one or two exams by June.

Under normal circumstances, these students would be entering “cram time” to prep for those exams. Cramming is something that can be done from home, assuming students have the technology and the discipline to tackle it, but nonetheless, one can expect to hear calls for some type of waiver of the graduation requirements in the face of lengthy closures. And in districts that use annual test scores for admission to selective programs and schools, the impact will likely be felt next year, when the schools are selecting students for the 2021-22 school year using test results from this year.

In addition, several teachers’ unions are pressing school administrators to treat remote learning as optional “supplemental,” “enrichment” or “review” material instead of for-credit class work, reports The Wall Street Journal. And the few schools that do grade, some have moved to pass/fail.

This is equitable only in its disservice to students. Administrators are forcing all children attending public schools to put their education on hold, depriving them of its structure in a chaotic time. Kids who are equipped to study remotely will lack incentive if their work counts for nothing. Schools won’t have the metrics to identify which children are falling behind during the shutdowns and will need remediation later. Bad teachers will escape accountability for their failures.

White Bear Lake Area School district has decided to institute a pass/no pass grading system, causing many in the community to sign an online petition calling on the district to let students choose their grading system for the second semester.

The coronavirus pandemic has confirmed there are glaringly obvious gaps and inequities in different forms in our education system. In response, policymakers have the opportunity to address these disparities and shake up the status quo instead of simply rushing to restore it.




Upcoming Events

  • Mackinac Virtual Event: Environment

    Location: Virtual Event

    What energy could (and should) look like in a post-COVID-19 world Register HERE! Join Center of the American Experiment Policy Fellow Isaac Orr and fellow environmental policy experts to discuss what energy could (and should) look like in a post-COVID-19 world. Joe Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center, will share opening remarks and be followed by featured speakers: Jason Isaac, senior manager of the Life:Powered project at the Texas Public Policy Foundation Isaac Orr, policy fellow at Center of the American Experiment Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy Early in the coronavirus quarantines,…

    Register Now
  • 2020 Annual Dinner Featuring Sarah Huckabee Sanders- Now in September!

    Location: Minneapolis Convention Center Ballroom 1301 2nd Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55403

    NEW SEPTEMBER DATE: We have made the difficult decision to once again move the date of this event. We will now host our Annual Dinner on Saturday, September 19th. All tickets bought for the April 4th, or June 18th dates are transferrable. We are so sorry for any inconvenience this has caused, but we look forward to seeing you on September 19! Direct any questions to Kathryn Hinderaker (kathryn.hinderaker@americanexperiment.org or 612-428-7005).   American President: The Unorthodox Approach to Politics that Changed the World. Sarah Huckabee Sanders served as White House Press Secretary for President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to…

    Register Now