Thousands of educators around the country last week joined a tele-town hall on education equity and safe school reopening. Organized by the National Education Association and moderated by award-winning reporter and C-SPAN host Jesse Holland, the event featured a live Q&A with NEA Vice President Becky Pringle and NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson.
“Despite a lack of coronavirus guidance and help at the federal level,” said Pringle, “our educators rose to the challenge and tried to build consistency for their students.” Noting that many experts anticipate a resurgence of COVID cases and the potential for school closures in the future, she added, “We are now pushing hard for the Senate to pass the HEROES Act in order to ensure access to technology and other resources for all students so that they don’t experience the interruption to learning that they did this spring.” Read more
Join your NEA colleagues from around the country this Thursday, June 18 for an engaging conversation to ensure that, as we reopen public school buildings, opportunities for students exist in equitable and just schools.
RSVP to join the tele-town hall from 5-6 p.m. EDT on Thursday.
Moderated by Jesse Holland, CSPAN Washington Journal Host and award-winning reporter, this event will feature conversation with NEA Vice President Becky Pringle and NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson.
During the conversation, participants will engage in a powerful discussion around the impacts of this pandemic crisis on schools and communities, particularly historically marginalized Black communities. As schools and districts make plans to return to in-person learning, equity and racial justice must be driving factors in decisions being made.
The top concerns of teachers regarding any return to school are the health and well-being of their students, ensuring they have access to computers and online resources, and keeping them safe when schools reopen.
Teachers say specific actions must be taken before schools reopen, including
- Establishing statewide protocols and protections for all schools.
- The protections should include disinfecting schools, devices, and desks, guidelines for wearing masks and social distancing, smaller class sizes, extra precautions for those at greater risk, measures for handling students who develop fevers or become ill, actions for handling a case of COVID-19 at a school, and guidelines for closing schools should there be another outbreak of coronavirus.
Those are some the findings of a new CEA survey of nearly 3,000 teachers taken in late May regarding the current health crisis in Connecticut.
“Teachers have stepped up to the enormous challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis and instantly went from in-person lessons to teaching students online,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “Teachers want the best for their students, and while we don’t yet know the specifics of when or how schools will reopen in the fall, we all agree our top priority must be the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff—especially those at higher risk.”
According to the survey, 43% of teachers are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and the number increases to 71% for teachers with 30 or more years in the classroom. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say their schools are not equipped to provide for frequent and sufficient hand washing for students and staff to reduce the spread of the virus.
“Moving forward, schools are going to look a lot different,” said Leake. “Safeguards must be in place to protect students and staff against a virus that has no vaccine and is not well-understood. We also must address learning loss and trauma suffered by students.”
Read the full CEA press release about the survey.
Read survey results.
Read and watch coverage:
Mary Beth Bruder, UConn; Marisa Halm, Center for Children’s Advocacy; Catherine Holahan, EducationCounsel; and Betty Sternbger, CCSU took part in a panel moderated by WNPR’s David DesRoches.
As with other areas of public education, when it comes to special education there are big disparities between districts. How do we make sure all students and families receive equitable special education services?
That was the topic of a panel discussion at a recent Special Education in Connecticut Summit sponsored by the UConn Neag School of Education and the Klebanoff Institute.
“Early identification and early screening are so important,” said Catherine Holahan, senior legal and policy advisor for EducationCounsel.
U.S. Secretary of Education John King told educators gathered at Central CT State University that “there’s tremendous work we need to do in equity.”
Students in Connecticut’s poorest schools are four times as likely to be taught by a core academic teacher who is not highly qualified. Compared with the state’s wealthiest schools, in the poorest schools there are also twice as many teachers who have been in the classroom for less than five years.
Ensuring access to experienced, highly qualified educators for all Connecticut students is a priority for all of the educators and district personnel who attended an Equity Lab at Central Connecticut State University yesterday.
The event drew participants from eight of Connecticut’s poorest districts to develop action plans for how to better recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and administrators.
“There’s tremendous work we need to do in equity,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John King who visited the Equity Lab on the last leg of his “Opportunities Across America” Tour. King said that nationwide only eighteen percent of educators are people of color.