Notes on the impending arrival of another school year, marked already by regular reports of pre-season football disrupted by a not-surprising spate of positive tests among players. Some headlines from education newsletters:
NERVOUS: A new poll by Axios shows 71 percent of parents, including a slim majority of Republicans and an overwhelming number of Black parents, see a moderate-to-large risk of returning to school. Excuse me if I won’t be joining for dinner the 8 percent who said they saw “no risk” in returning to school. The article notes that Los Angeles and San Diego schools have decided to go strictly online. No sports, music, plays. Politico notes that major districts across the country are rejecting Donald Trump’s call to return to classes as usual.
PETRI DISHES: Large school districts are reporting unacceptably high transmission rates.
JUNK THE TESTS: A growing number of jurisdictions (even Georgia and South Carolina) are calling for an end to required high-stakes testing. Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key already has indicated that’s a no-go in Arkansas. Republican politicians love these tests, though they are flawed instruments that primarily measure family income and stability. They give the state a wedge to take over school districts such as Little Rock and other majority-minority districts on any whim.
In Arkansas, many districts are offering an online option and preparing to teach a combination of in-class and online, the secondary part to prepare for a possible future closure. Some districts are requiring face coverings. Some are not. Even the most careful are warning that social distancing may not always be possible — on buses, moving between classes and other circumstances.