Nashville education blogger TC Weber takes a moment to talk about all that so-called “learning loss” going on and in the process, he teaches us a lesson.
Here’s some of what he has to say:
Yesterday I attended the Tennesseans for Student Success & TennesseeCAN webinar. The event was previewed as an opportunity to see what the Tennessee General Assembly would be tackling this upcoming session. On the panel were House Education Chairs Deborah Moody and Mark White, along with State Senator John Lundberg. Lundberg is the presumptive successor to former Senate Education Committee Chair Dolores Gresham, though there has been some chatter about the position falling to Senator Kelsey. joining them was SCORE Director of Policy and Government Relations, Aleah Guthrie.
I’m not sure what I expected, since I can’t cite a single instance of the three pre-mentioned organizations getting in a room together and producing anything memorable, but the conversation was fairly predictable. All three continually scream, “Crisis!” while conveniently ignoring the role they’ve played in shaping policy over the last decade. Today would be no different.
The prevailing theme of the entire session was “loss” – be it learning or students. To put it into perspective, had I been playing drink “learning loss” – taking a shot of whiskey every time I heard the phrase – I would have been hammered by the mid-point of the event. On the flip side, had I been playing drink “student gains”, I could have gotten behind the wheel and driven to Memphis with no worries.
It’s fascinating to me that in a state filled with proud conservatives, so many are willing to subscribe to a belief that children can’t learn without government intervention. The government can’t tell me to wear a mask, but a child is incapable of learning sans legislator involvement. No statewide mask mandates, but hell yea, bring on the state testing mandate.
The portrayal of nothing but losses is an inaccurate one. The lessons that kids are learning may not be the ones prescribed by policy experts and politicians, but I think they are worth acknowledging. We have long talked about the need for increased fluency in technology. Has there ever been a year that mirrored the growth of this year? We have children as young as five, navigating systems and receiving instruction better than half the state’s adult population. I would think that goes in the win column and is cause for celebration alone.
TC is not wrong. At all. Kids ARE learning. Teachers ARE teaching. In fact, in many systems, teachers are teaching both online AND in-person. Just because school buildings might not be open, doesn’t mean learning isn’t happening or that teachers aren’t working their asses off to adapt to a new reality.
While Gov. Lee may not know how to lead, our Tennessee teachers are demonstrating they get the job done no matter what.
Also, here’s a bit more about SCORE and all the “work” they do for kids:
If lawmakers aren’t coming forward to raise teacher pay and direct more resources to the classroom, they can just take a seat. Teachers are getting it done with less and risking their lives because of COVID. Their governor cancelled a raise and their legislature thinks being 45th in school funding is the same as being adequate.
Some analysts differ. Big time.
If there’s going to be hand-wringing over learning loss, then legislators need to start getting serious about funding Tennessee schools. Every single year. So far, there’s a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing.
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Teachers are definitely working hard and still teaching. Some kids are still learning. Many aren’t. I think we can acknowledge that learning loss is very real for some kids (mine included), without generalizing and without blaming it on teachers / the school superintendent. I love our teachers and I support Dr. Battle AND virtual school for my six year old has been pointless and awful. But that doesn’t mean I expect her teacher to risk her health over it. In my mind it doesn’t have to be either / or.