Dear School Districts, It’s Not the Access

Dear School Districts,

I’m writing to let you know that some students’ failure to complete work is not about access, it’s about disruption and anxiety about the future. Some students have parents that are still working who do not have the time or energy to then teach their child lessons that are to be learned at school. While some students may do well with online learning, others do not. As the teachers know, because they’re in the classroom with these children, all students do not learn the same.

There are so many children in America that are on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which federally mandates that they are taught in a way that works for them. How many of these children are slipping through the cracks of this new system put in place?

Some school districts are doing online classrooms and students get to not only socialize with their peers through this format, but also ask questions to their teachers in real time. Other school districts are pre-recording voiced over PowerPoint slides for children to glean information from before completing multiple assignments. Yet, there are other school districts providing zero video assistance; only assignments and “thorough explanation and feedback” to all students. This does not set up anything that would resemble an equal learning experience.

The disadvantage is not just related to access. While most schools are breaking their backs and banks to provide laptops for all of their students who need one, it doesn’t account for the trauma that the students and their caregivers are experiencing. While we parents would love nothing more than for children to get an education, right now the majority of us are in survival mode.

We are witnessing tantrums we haven’t seen since the toddler years. We are wiping tears from our teens and preteens eyes. We are crying ourselves when they are out of eyesight. These times are not normal, and certainly not optimal for children to learn new concepts. Most of us will come out of this heading to the closest therapist’s office, adding in a failed grade level due to circumstances outside of that child’s control seems unnecessarily cruel.

Working from home is not the same as just being at home, and not all parents have the luxury of doing so. There are parents who work the front lines of this virus and they’re having to return home to then become a teacher and housekeeper. There are parents who have lost jobs trying to figure out how to keep their lights on while they stay up every night attempting to get through the cluster f**k that is unemployment right now; they do not have the mental space to also be concerned about their children passing to the next grade.

This pandemic that has swept the world is not the time to pile more onto parents who are doing their best to keep everyone alive and well at the end of each day. This isn’t even accounting for the families that are dealing with the tremendous loss of a loved one due to this virus. We have got to do better, and when I say we, I mean you school districts.

Every school district across all states need to get on the same page. We have some states passing all students and vowing to figure it out and catch students up next year, while still providing them with optional remedial learning. Some states are graduating all seniors and mailing their diplomas, while other’s are still making them do the work in order to pass. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures in grace. Let’s figure out a way to make it as fair as possible for all school aged children across the United States. Let’s focus on making sure our kids are mentally healthy, and the pressures of completing school assignments are not breaking them and their parents. Let’s let them breathe.

Every student that is not turning in work is not lazy, they don’t have lazy parents, and they certainly aren’t just giving up. They are overwhelmed. They are traumatized. They are regressing. They are looking for safety. They are looking for normalcy. Nothing about this is normal. Lacking access is not the issue.

Signed,

Tired Parents.

 

76 thoughts on “Dear School Districts, It’s Not the Access

  1. Well said! I am a BII with a private agency that contracts with LAUSD. It is so different working with my 4th grade client via Zoom or Facetime than in the classroom. He has anxiety and ADD issues.
    My granddaughter with an IEP is in Newhall School District. She is pulled out for Resource in typical times. I’ve been supporting her in organizing and completing a major project with no guidance from Resource. I feel that I am doing their job. Who helped her break down the big project that was overwhelming her into smaller chunks? Who checks up on her progress daily? Who sits at home guiding her through the project steps? Who motivates her to continue? That support is not coming from anyone at the school. It is provided by ME.

    1. It’s so frustrating. My son has an IEP as well, and anxiety. He is not reviving accommodations. I work full time, so does my husband and so does my ex-husband (his dad) my older kids are watching the 2 year old while the adults work. He’s having anxiety attacks around school work and failing. It’s too much for him. My 8th grader is breezing through. He hates it, but he’s breezing through online assignments. Different kids need different things.

      Good luck with your student and granddaughter. I’m glad she has you to help her.

    2. Yes! My son has an IEP and doesn’t focus well and he’s been lost this past 5 weeks I’m so frustrated bc these teachers aren’t checking in not reaching out to me and having no prob giving him a failing grade when they are not teaching him at all. I had to reach out to the school itself to get anywhere. Not a good time to be a student.

      1. Not a good time to be a teacher either. This is NOT how teachers signed up to teach. Please just remember that they are traumatized just as much. They are dealing with things at home and still trying to figure out how to reach kids. Some may have their own kids at home to help navigate through all this, too. Some may be learning how to even work the technology. Some may be dealing with depression and just making it through the bare necessities. Having to teach online is like mourning the loss of a relationship. Times 20 or more (depending on what level you teach)! I know it stinks to have to learn this way, but it is even worse for a teacher. Depending on the district you work for, there may not be a lot of guidance for teachers. Depending on your state, there may not be grace being given to them as teachers. Most teachers are doing the best they can to do their job and survive these crazy times. I can almost guarantee that they still love your kiddo and think of them often and are doing their best. Please remember to extend that grace back to your teacher. Have you emailed and asked her how she is doing?

      2. This is so true. I see my teacher friends struggling and I want to just hug them. They’re doing the best they can with what they have.

      3. I am a counselor who only works with students with IEP’s. I have reached out to all my students and parents for Zoom/ phone sessions for counseling. I am in constant contact with parents and listening to their concerns as well as. I am doing my best to see all students. However, I have 3 kids also that I am trying to home school and I am struggling to find the balance. Parents, please understand we are doing the best we can in this situation and we are sorry if it is not meeting the IEP requirements but it was not written for distance learning. Many times kids are pulled in groups and in this situation I am forced to see students individually right now and because of the size of my caseload it’s makes it very difficult to meet the need of my students and my own children. I hope parents see our side because I know personally I am working longer. Stay safe everyone.

    3. very well said I feel Exactly the same way At this time in the world we are all just trying to survive and keep a roof of her all of our heads and food in our kids stomachs we do not need the extra stress from the school district conflict changing things around on us and putting so much pressure on us parents who have not been in scored over 20 years that now have to be a teacher of multiple grades at the same time then you guys create a program that does not even run on most devices I’m sorry you guys just need to pass these kids through to next year and put this month and there somewhere of the learning I doubt they would lose too much I’ve watched the stuff these kids are learning on these I pads and believe me it’s not very much learning please think of something better because we all need a break this extra stress is not good at for the teachers the parents or the students

    4. Way to go!! As you know, Resource is there to help with the goals that’s in the IEP. Most Resource pulls 30 min with other students, all having different IEPs. So, if Resource is an extension of a project, how will her goals be addressed. I’m not being mean, but a lot of people don’t understand the purpose of Resource. By law, the IEP will override any other lesson because it is a contract just like the General Ed. Teacher is contracted to teach certain subjects. You are doing a Great Job🙏🙏

  2. I’m an elementary ESL teacher, and many, many schools forget about families that speak languages other than English, or speak/read/write no English, OR read/write in no language at all (yes, they exist! And they need help, too!) My students/their families and others all over the country often don’t get basic information in their preferred language, even like “hey, this is the online platform we’re using, here’s how you log in, here’s how much work you need to do each day, here’s how/when to come pick up a Chromebook…” etc etc etc. But then schools are like “why aren’t they doing anything??” ::facepalm:: And if they’re little kids who’s families don’t read/write well in English, how are the kids supposed to do the work if teachers don’t accommodate them or assist them??

    1. Yes!!! Our school district sends out a recording in Spanish but the packets and work are all in English, so I guess screw them?! It’s infuriating!

  3. What is really frustrating to my Granddaughter is she does the work and it takes the teachers forever to grade it. She is doing the work the same as she did in class but getting lower grades. She is an A/B student but now is getting D’s for the same work ethics she done in class, she’s so confused. You can only send emails you can’t talk to any teacher in person to find out the problem. It’s like they are so overloaded they are just not interested in the grading or the students. If you have a student failing that far you should be sending a note to a parent I would think. She is getting so discouraged. While it’s not the best way to finish out the year I DO NOT want them to reopen the schools this year and risk spreading the virus again. And start this disease all over again. I believe if the student was already passing they should just pass them and be done with it. If the student wasn’t passing then a few more weeks of school that’s left isn’t going to help them pass at this point. Take the pressure of the students, parents, and Grandparents raising grandchildren life is worth more than the stress and anxiety.

    1. This is so disheartening. The way the schools are setting this up is all so different and unequal. I’m sorry your granddaughter is struggling.

    2. I guarantee that teachers are doing their best. But they have to grade more, too. So much feedback comes from class discussions, questions asked in class, and interactions. None of that is happening now, so teachers don’t get those cues as to what kids are understanding and not understanding. Plus, many teachers are struggling just to get the lessons out there. Some are working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. (I will not do that to my mental health or my children, so I am not.) Besides transitioning everything to online learning, they are checking with kids who aren’t showing up for online check ins. And then some of them have 180 students to keep up with. And their own kids at home who need reassuring and help with their online work and sometimes just cuddles. I feel for your granddaughter and all the kids frustrated by the situations, but please understand that many teachers have been put in an situation where they simply CANNOT do everything that needs to be done. They are staying awake worrying about their students. They are grieving the lost relationships with ‘their’ kids. Because for a dedicated teacher, every single one of those students is ‘their’ kid. If you haven’t ever taught online with a week’s notice while having your own kids at home, you truly can’t understand how rough it is for some teachers right now. Not for all teachers. But some.

      1. Thank you for sharing this perspective! I’m a high school teacher with nearly 150 students, many of which have IEPs. I’m doing the best I can to learn new technology, make videos of notes, slow down instruction, schedule Google Meets with my students, respond to the (literal) hundreds of daily emails from every student, parent, or guidance counselor with a question or concern. It is overwhelming! It is especially difficult because I also have two children at home that need my help and my attention and a husband that is a nurse and is on the front lines of this pandemic. Accusations and blame are counterproductive for all of us. Let’s work on being understanding and kind to each other because we will only get through this together.

      2. I certainly agree that we need to be in this together, not sure why people feel that this is blaming teachers. It’s not. Teachers are getting the shortest end of the stick in this. This is aimed solely at districts, meaning administrators with every school district doing something completely different than the next. If you think your district is doing a wonderful job, you’re in a good district. It’s not that way in other districts and the inequality is blaring right now. My sons math teacher just created a classroom 2 weeks ago and still has not uploaded any work, but is threatening to fail him though he has an IEP for MATH that she is not even teaching at the moment and hasn’t been since before the pandemic. He was on his 3rd math teacher before April. The first one was wonderful. The second one was awful and more than half the class had a failing grade which she didn’t inform anyone about until progress reports. The principal assured us she was leaving and a new better teacher was coming. Nope. My kid had a 13 and neither me or his special education teacher were made aware. Our emails went unanswered. Got him a tutor and within 3 weeks school was cancelled. So I sit back and see the neighboring school district with zoom meet ups and FaceTime calls so kids can ask questions and my kid gets none of that and a math teacher who has done nothing. Do I think she’s overwhelmed? Yes. Do I think it’s fair my kid may fail because she has consistently not done her job? No. Do I think everything is the teachers fault? No. Teachers have kids, they have families, and they don’t make the rules. The school districts and boards do, and I’m sorry but they need to do better and talk to other districts to see if there’s anything they can improve on.

    3. That is so frustrating. I am thankful that our district is give a P/NG for this last quarter. The students will either pass (P) or get no grade (NG). No one is getting penalized for work not being done this quarter or not meeting expectations. They will likely be playing catch-up in the fall for those that got the NG, but it seemed the most fair to the demographic in our county. I hope you get better feedback soon. For a student’s grades to change that drastically for a quarter should send red flags up to a teacher.

    4. Contact administration if you can. This seems ludicrous. This stress id innecessary. It is 1/52 of their entire time in educstion K-12. I agree that grace needs to be given and that kids are going to be okay. Honestly, requiring them to do this work in this time is frankly idiotic.

    1. We appreciate it! Parents understand that teachers love those babies and want them to succeed. This is hard for teachers, kids and parents. 🙁

  4. I understand both sides of this situation. As a parent of an elementary and middle school student I feel like getting my kids to stay caught up is making me want to pull my hair out.

    As a nineteen year teaching veteran, though, I understand that we are all doing the best we can. I have spent my entire career as an educator being blamed for every downfall of society. For nineteen years, we’ve been told that what we’re doing is not enough.

    I agree that this whole situation is screwed up. Your children’s teachers and school districts would like nothing more than to wave a wand and make it all go away, but this is beyond anyone’s control. Finding new ways to blame schools for what they’re “not doing” is not helping anyone right now.

    It is not us against you. Trust me because I am on both sides. Let’s just all agree the the best we can do right now is support one another and not continue to make an enemy of education.

      1. When you blame the schools, you blame the teachers. When articles like this are written it cuts teachers to the core. You want someone to provide the services to kids that they get at school? Who do think provides those services? A teacher! So if that is your issue then you are blaming the teachers.
        I have taught Special Education for 22 years. Nothing in my experience has taught me how to teach my kids in a situation like this. Believe me teachers are putting their heart and soul into everything they do each day and wish it could be anything but what it is.

      2. It sounds like you’re very passionate about teaching your students. Other educators understood my stance. I’m sorry you are not in a place to receive this as it is meant. I hope you have a better day

    1. Amen to this. No one is to blame and everyone, teachers, parents, students are all struggling. Let’s extend grace and love to one another and stop pointing fingers and laying blame at what is or isn’t being done.

  5. You are asking for grace and forgiveness for anxiety and being overwhelmed without providing any for the schools and/or teachers. We are overwhelmed and feeling just as anxious as you are. We are racking our brains trying to come up with ways to still provide instruction when we can’t even get in front of our students and provide it. Should we spend our time going to each of our student’s houses and personally delive instructuons/ assignments/ accomodations/ lessons and put our health and life in danger? That’s what it sounds like you are asking. Should we grade assignments the same day day we receive them when we are homeschooling our own children as well as keeping up with teaching online? We as educators are being put in an impossible position with impossible expectations placed on us. So please, when you are asking for grace during this situation, please GIVE it to teachers as well.

    1. Actually, that’s not what I say at all. I say “While some students may do well with online learning, others do not. As the teachers know, because they’re in the classroom with these children, all students do not learn the same.”

      This is specifically about school districts being on the same page. The whole thing is about school districts, nothing to do with teachers. Y’all are doing the best you can with a crap situation. Believe me, I know. Several of my friends that are teachers have read this and agreed with everything said and did not find it offensive, so the ones that are overlooking that this is specifically speaking about how certain school districts are handling things, I don’t understand how that wasn’t clear. My school district is doing a poor job and it’s not for lack of the teachers trying.

      1. I’m not sure why it infuriates teachers. They just handed their jobs over to parents. I understand that they are still doing lesson plans, grading, and reaching out to students. Everyone’s situation is so different! I have 6 children at home. Kindergarten through 8th grade. I also work full time from home, right now, I’d give anything to go back to my office. Dad also works outside of the home full time. My email is constantly blowing up with assignments that need to be completed, assignment that should be redone, assignments that weren’t completed, material that my children aren’t understanding….. here’s the deal, I’m doing my job! I can’t do yours also! My Older children attend zoom classes from 9-2 Monday-Thursday. Anxiety is high in this household. I have children doing research papers for music class! Research papers for art. They are in middle school. Nothing against those subjects but I think they should be focusing on core subjects right now. My children can’t be wasting their time on those. I have used vacation time from work to sit down and teach my children. I decided I am NOT doing that ANYMORE. When this is all over WE are going to need that vacation!

      2. I didn’t think this article was pointing blame on teachers at all. My take away was that kids with IEP’s are missing out on in-person services and socialization. (My son being one of those kids)
        Also, that remote learning is tough for everyone. Teachers, parents, and kids.
        Mental health for everyone is important. It is a very stressful time for all and completing school work right now is something we shouldn’t be expecting if our kids right now.
        Great article!

    2. Not your fault but we just need to agree School ended suddenly this year in March and we can start over in the fall. Trying to force teachers to teach and kids to learn in this situation is mentally killing us all.

  6. I’m a school psychologist and IEP case manager in NJ and it is so disheartening to hear that some of your children are unable to access help during this time, whether it be through IEP mandated counseling, accommodations that are able to be provided virtually (I’m being realistic here, I work very closely with teachers and have the utmost respect for all they are doing right now–my teachers are amazing), or parent consultation with a case manager or mental health professional. Parents, please remember your children still have rights and reach out if you are able, and need guidance. I am happy to provide any advice I can, as an outside party. Hang in there everyone! Sending love and healthy vibes your way!

    1. ❤️ your school is lucky to have you. My son has an IEP and is supposed to have accommodations for math. His math teacher isn’t cooperating with the resource teacher. The resource teacher is frustrated and lacking assistance. She’s the only resource teacher for all of 6-8th grades. She’s wonderful but she’s ready to quit and that hurts my heart.

      1. Thank you <3 I am so sorry your son is struggling. I wonder if it is at all possible for the resource teacher to create her own "classroom" (e.g., google classroom) for your son and the other students who need the more individualized support in the Math class. It must be so difficult for her to navigate that situation, especially without administrative support.

      2. She said she’s going to have her daughter help her set up a zoom classroom so she can see the kiddos and help them the best she can. I hope it works. This week was spring break thankfully.

  7. At our school district teachers are phoning students, just press *67 before dialing, Google classroom, Hangouts, Classdojo, Remind, Padlet, and Zoom meetings. Admin checks with teachers and assistants thru email and Zoom meetings. We are all in touch as much as possible.

    1. So true! I’m a teacher/parent. I’m seeing both sides of the struggle and it’s real for everyone. There has to be a better balance between what school districts are requiring of teachers and what is best for our students.

      1. Yes!!! My kids would kill for a zoom classroom at least once a week so they didn’t feel alone and could ask questions in real time. We don’t have that option but two districts over they do zoom classes daily for an hour.

      2. I’m a Special Education Teacher and I have two sons on the Spectrum. I understand the parents frustration, but in my district or school, Special Education Teachers were given no time to prep… EC administration have just figured out how to do this – we have been out since March 13th. There have been very conflicting reports. We were told to call all the students and check in to see how they are doing. So I have contacted all of my students/parents however two have not replied. We were told to continue to call them. From our EC meeting, we were told not to do live sessions especially Zoom with our students due to confidentiality and there have been reports of hackers. All of us know that virtual learning is not set up for students with IEPS. As long as the students connect with me and do some of the assignments in my class or the regular teachers class, they will pass. Again, not all parents are complaining, but for those that are- you are your child’s first teacher. Email the teacher regarding your concerns. This is new to all of us. You need to work with us, not against us. All of the Resource teachers are logged into the regular teachers courses so we can see how the students are doing and what they are doing. In addition, we were told to create our own course-which I have spent 12hours nonstop several Faust on the computer trying to figure out this platform first and then how to make it work for our students with IEPs. It’s been very frustrating. Just do the best you can.

      3. This is frustrating and I feel for the teachers. My sons resource teacher is amazing and does the best she can. If no one else checks in on him, she does. She’s having problems with the math teacher and accommodations for all of her students in that math class. As of last Friday, she was supposed to take it to the principal. My son is being threatened with failure when he’s not even given the accommodations he needs. His resource teacher didn’t even know those phone calls went out. It seems out school district isn’t even working together, let alone trying to figure out what the neighboring district is doing.

    2. This is what is so frustrating. I know most teachers are like this… my daughter’s teacher has been non existent now for 5 weeks except for the occasional “Thats not right” or “You know better”. We have had no contact with either of her teachers (she has 2 in a inclusion classroom). Assignments are crap cell phone photos we cannot read. Assignments are sent at 5PM and expected same day. I know its mostly just this teacher… and very few teachers in the world. But both my kids have IEPs and zero services… and the principals response is “bear with us”. Its been 5 weeks… I don’t have an ounce of teaching experience in me and I am making lesson plans for my kids at this point.

      1. That is incredibly frustrating and I’m so sorry her teachers are no help. I don’t even know what to say but email them and then email the principal and take it up the chain so it’s documented that you’ve been trying. Hang in there mama, you’re doing a wonderful job even when it doesn’t feel like it.

      2. I am so sorry to hear this. Please try to be patient with the teacher. There could be someone in his/her family who is ill. There could be mental health issues. (Teachers aren’t immune to mental health problems, even though we are supposed to always be ‘on’ for our kids.) Hang in there. If you are doing your best and keeping your kids happy (ish) and surviving this mess, you are doing great. And if worst comes to worst, study fractions by baking cookies. Read to them as much as you can. Blow bubbles and talk about why they float. (Not sure how old your kids are, so that could be totally weird advice!) Talk with them about things that interest them. I’m sorry it is not much help, but I think we all really underestimate the learning that happens through just interacting with kids and doing fun things with them. Best wishes to you. I sincerely hope things get better!

  8. PERSPECTIVE

    My daughter is a teacher in remote Alaska and almost every one of her students has special needs. This was her last year teaching in her district there and this has been a heart breaking experience for her. She has reached out to her students in all the ways the district offers. She has engaged so many of her skills and training to engage these children and the reality of it has hit that she will finish this not having seen these children to say goodbye. This situation is hard on everyone. I would venture to guess 99% of teachers are working hard to continue to impact their students. Most aren’t kicked back at home relishing the situation. They WANT to be with your kids. They live to teach your children and celebrate their victories and lead them through the rough moments. This isn’t a vacation for anyone involved when it comes to students bring thrust into home schooling. From the mother of a teacher whose heart is breaking because she WANTS to be there for her students and this doesn’t allow her to be as much as they need and what she has worked hard to be all year.

    PERSPECTIVE

    It’s difficult to grasp how others are impacted. Think about the perspective of the other parents, teachers, the staff at the school taxes with finding new ways to be what they can as much as they can in this challenging time. Not only are their challenges for the parents but also the teachers. Many teachers are also worried about their students that rely on school as a safe place and respite from home lives that aren’t all sidewalk and window art. School is where they eat and know someone cares.

    PERSPECTIVE

    The best we can do is do our best. Nothing more nothing less. Know that your children’s teachers are missing your kids and this pains them to not be what they can be and have been.

    1. I truly feel for the teachers and some of my best friends are educators. This is not about the teachers shortcomings because they’re the ones breaking their backs to try to meet their students needs. They miss their kids. They’re working from home with their own kids and just as stressed as the rest of us. This is about the school districts (administrators) not teachers. It’s about school districts superintendents for the whole state getting on the same page. There is no reason my school district to be doing something completely different than the neighboring school district. It’s unequal in almost every way, but it has nothing to do with the teachers or their efforts, it has to do with the higher ups.

  9. How about the kids who have other family members that step up to help while the parents work. However the parents feel the tea hers are doing nothing but sitting on their lazy butts all day and they claim to have zero time to help their own kids. But when other family members try to help and are met with no cooperation because the kids are already 4 weeks behind and have been told they dont have to do anything but sit there all day and play fortnight. Theres those of us trying to help and those that could care less what their kids do

    1. That’s sad. I do hope the parents come down from whatever high horse they’re on and help you guys. That’s not fair at all. Thank you for doing the best that you can.

  10. I work for a school district and completely agree. Parents are exhausted. We just need to survive. It is a HEALTH crisis but some districts are trying to keep it business as usual.

    The one part that unfortunately is not possible is for all school districts to be on the same page. Schools are locally controlled by school boards. And worse, they are locally funded, creating SO many inequities. That’s the way our country’s public education system is set up. We love our states’ rights argument in this country.

    The only two ways I see it being mandated that schools all do the same thing is by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights making it an equity issue of some sorts. Alternately, the Dept of Ed could threaten by withhold federal funding. That’s what they do for many other things.

    1. This is so unfortunate, but if the federal government has that much control people will get up in arms about it, but it would be more fair.

  11. Here I am believing it was only me. I am faced with some of those challenges as well. Especially having to work and leave my kids home unattended to teach themselves. It is a challenge even when you are at home with them so just imagine them home alone. It is even more challenging when you have more than one child. I am not blaming anyone, for the teachers are doing there job. On the other hand some teachers can improvise just a little, be consistant, be considerate. Send out a rubric for the week for parents to follow. Imagine your phone dinging with assignments coming every hour of the clock for 5 children from 7 teachers each. Come on now.
    What is put in place for essential workers that have underage children at home and are facing these challenges?

  12. Public school districts are required to comply with federal law as well as state law. States can make laws more stringent but not less. Many of the laws and standards schools are required to meet are in direct conflict with the stay at home orders they are also mandated to follow at this time. Meaning schools are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The United States Secretary of Education will need the support of Congress to make any change. Meaning, it will literally take an act of Congress to enact a change (even a temporary one).

    Parents have already (some prior to the first day of moving to online education) filed for Due Process, filed for mediation, and/or filed state complaints relating to online learning. While I have no doubt some are legitimate, many are to fault districts for things that are beyond their control. Teachers, psychologists, social workers, and therapists are struggling not only to educate students in a new way, but they are also trying to do so while continuing to meet education laws, HIPAA laws, FERPA laws, testing protocol restraints, copyright laws as well as meeting federal and state guidelines. Adding the fear and stress of retribution from outside sources only makes things worse for everyone.

    School district employees worry not only about educating students to the standards they are being held to, but many worry about their students mental, physical and emotional health too. All while worrying about their own situations. Many school district employees are parents. Many are caring for their own parents. Many have underlying conditions and/or disabilities themselves (including anxiety, depression, etc).

    I am an Exceptional Student Education Specialist with a passion is educating students with special needs. I am the wife of a law enforcement officer who puts his life on the line every day to maintain the safety of others. I am the mother of a high school senior who has lost so much more than her brick and mortar education over the last month. I am the daughter and care giver for a parent over 65 with diabetes that lives in my home. I am working everyday to support my co-workers, other school district employees, our students, and their parents. I am working for you.

  13. I agree with so much of what you said here as a teacher and as a parent. I am in fact extremely stressed out with keeping up with everything. But I would say this…we have been doing this for 6 weeks at the most. Although it seems like an eternity, it hasn’t been very long for the people who are trying to build this plane as they fly it. We also have teachers at home who have small children (including me). We have teachers and administrators who have spouse who are essential workers and friends and family who are sick. Everyone is doing the best they can with the information and the stamina that they have.

    Our district doesn’t want us using Zoom for synchronous lessons because they don’t want to stress parents and kids out when we don’t know what’s happening in their home at 9:30 am or whatever time it is scheduled. There are also a ton of privacy concerns. I’m not saying that there aren’t issues, but everyone needs grace. The whole nation is traumatized and I think that includes the “higher ups” too.

    I’m so sad about all of this. I didn’t sign up for this. Yet, we must do the best we can with the available tools.

  14. Face it people; some parents do not, themselves, have the education to help their children. Some do not even speak English. Some are homeless and where will they find a computer?? Should the child suffer? How can we make sure that does “NOT” happen?

  15. I would like to add to this, we are raising our granddaughter who is autistic and has an IEP. Her teachers have been outstanding during all of this. She has anxiety and we have started her doing counseling via Skype with a local counselor which has helped by also her teachers all Skype with her at least once a week to see how she is doing. If we have questions about an assignment and email them they immediately get back to us. The principal send out weekly emails to update everyone and so does the superintendent. The school is also providing home food bags to any child age 18 or under in our school district that wants/needs them, even if they don’t go to school. The school bus drivers deliver them 3 days a week, M-W_F. We are a very small school district made up of 5 towns with maybe 500 kids total in all of our schools. This has been a hard time, I am an RN and work full time but luckily my husband is a retired military man so he is home with our granddaughter. It is hard but we are very blessed with our school district I would say from all the comments complaining about theirs.

  16. I am a teacher and I love this. But I have also heard a student say she wasn’t doing anything because she heard everyone passes whether they do work or not.

  17. As an SLP in the school. I think I’d just like to say that we do know this for the most part. At the same time, I’m having to think about the several different situations that parents are in. Some are all in and wanting a ton of materials and some are in survival mode and I am trying not to bombard with emails. It’s my job to provide materials and an education, so that’s what i’m trying to do. At the same time, I understand the parents who can’t do it and I need to provide for the parents who do. Soo yea. as much as I understand this letter, I’m also a little frustrated myself.

  18. I love this article. Just love it. I am a teacher (20 years) and mother of three kids at home. I have been given the leeway by my school to be understanding, but some teachers in my FB groups are just freaking out because of what they are being REQUIRED to expect of kids. My own son’s teacher is about to drive me crazy because of a lack of flexibility, but I keep telling myself it is only because she is so concerned that he keeps learning and gets as much out of it as he can. Your take is spot on, but many teachers aren’t given the option of being understanding or they are given conflicting guidelines that change by the day. Hang in there. We are all in this together. (Well, not physically. But, well, you know!)

    1. Thank you! I know teachers are doing their best (most of them) but it’s like the school districts are demanding things that just seem ridiculous.

  19. I feel this in my bones. And I appreciate that the article speaks to the district. Our teachers have been absolute soldiers. I have two distance learners at home with me, and I am working full time from home. My 7th grader was struggling since the beginning of the year, and the distance part now just has her spinning in to despair. She’s not a good student, and everything is magnified now. But the largest and hardest part of our dynamic is having my now out-of-work Carpenter husband home all the time. He is active alcoholic and by noon everyday, our household has spun out of control. I feel like I’m holding things through sheer will, and, any second now, it’s going to fall apart.

    1. Oh no, I’m so sorry. This is already hard and you’ve got that extra layer. Alanon meetings have moved online. If you can, maybe when he’s passed out you can find one to attend, if you’re up for it. I’ll be thinking about you guys. Stay strong.

  20. I agree these are tough times for everyone. I would ask that you don’t clump all teachers and all schools together. Remember that the teachers are also working from home, dealing with teaching their own children from home, cleaning, cooking, finances, etc. . . etc. . .I know that some schools and teachers are conducting as much one on one time with their students as they can. For so many reasons. Social, interacting, security, hope, learning. So please don’t just say “schools figure it out” Some our doing as much as they can. The teachers are also very touched by this because they usually get to say goodbye to their students. They can leave them with some positive words for the summer and everyone has closure. They are struggling, because this year is different.

    1. I completely agree and understand that teachers are doing the best they can. This open letter is not for teachers, or even schools, it’s for school districts. The school districts and school boards are dictating what the schools and teachers do. It’s them that need to figure it out and chat with other districts to see what’s working for them and try to be as much on the same page as possible.

      1. And not all school districts are the same. Ours has done a fabulous job! Our expectations have been made clear and that trickles up to our state. Our state has been very clear about expectations for the remainder of the year during this crazy and unexpected time. Things are different. Everything is different. Give EVERYONE grace. I guarantee they haven’t forgotten about your child. And just keep communicating with them with grace.

  21. Sadly our education system was already broken, now more than ever please invest in equal and quality education for all, especially for our military-connected kids (MIC3). We fix it, we fix America, and do right by all these students affected and future ones.

  22. Please remember that IEPs and the goals, accommodations, and services outlined within them were not written with remote learning as a consideration. As a result, teachers, administrators, and districts are adapting as best they can.

  23. From a parent of 2 elementary aged kids with IEP’s and also a SPED teacher… I am in agreement with districts being on the same page with learning…. My school district I work for is doing a stellar job with remote learning… and my hometown… well thats another story. The teachers lack leadership from admin and are left to their own devices to figure it out slowly

  24. I’m a Middle School Teacher, inner city, high needs district. Much truth in the article and comments. A few thoughts: You write, “some students’ failure to complete work is not about access, it’s about disruption and anxiety about the future.” Agreed, but emphasis on “some.” What about the rest of the students? Many many students are okay, they’re just not doing the work. They refuse. Then parents start yelling at teachers that the work is too hard, it’s not clear, etc. And administrators start yelling at teachers that we are not holding students accountable. So while teachers, parents, and administrators yell at each other, the student goes in the other room and happily gets on instagram. Meanwhile, as a teacher, I am expected to review and comment on 118 students’ work EVERY DAY, and either comment on the content, a send an encouraging note about completing work. We are to take attendance EVERY DAY, which is a task because it means we have to click through 118 students’ accounts to see if they did anything. If the student is not doing any work, administrators usually make it clear that it is THE TEACHER’S fault and we are to contact parents and and and. Oh… and by the way, while we’re doing all this, we’re supposed to be learning new technology (no support… Google doesn’t even have a live support line, so I spend hours combing through useless articles and finding nothing, and the district advises only to contact district tech support for “urgent matters), developing lessons and writing instructions that no one reads, and documenting every single phone call and email we make to students. It’s a bit overwhelming and as one commenter noted, whatever’s not working, it’s clearly… the teacher’s fault.

  25. One other thought… while in your reply to comments you make your support of teachers clear… the very title of the article is directly aimed, with hostility I believe, at teachers. WE, the clearly out-of-control anger motivated tyrants, must become more tolerant and understand and stop yelling.

    1. Actually the title is about school districts not teachers. Districts in my mind and many others are administrators while teachers are following orders coming from the top. It does not imply it is at all the teachers fault, and the stop yelling is the name of my blog’s website, and has nothing to do with the article. I hope your school district is more supportive. Teachers (most) are doing the best they can with what they have with little support from the school district itself.

  26. I hope both the parents and school districts look at what worked and what did not work. Maybe develop a SOP for students and also for teachers. Maybe the state should take over when a pandemic happens. The state sets the standards I believe so for every grade I would think there would be material to study and complete. Out of this pandemic, I would think that the good procedures be adopted and bad practices be extinguished. Remember, there are home schooled kids that learn at home, there should be a plan for when these situations occurr.

  27. The first thing I thought was how many of these kids were already slipping through the cracks before this pandemic. The special education system is broken. So many parents are learning that their child’s needs were not being met at school and also how their “actually” learns. It’s been a wake up call for some parents, an opportunity to better advocate for their child. A blessing in disguise.

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