With the new 2021/2022 school year launched in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) the theory of widespread learning loss for the neediest Students has become a reality. Those Students whose families didn’t have the financial capacity for home-schooling, study groups with tutors or other non public school district supports have fallen months behind their more affluent peers.
This week in Sunday Reads we highlight an editorial from the LA Times that exposes the truth about learning loss that will help SDUSD families be vigilant in deciding if their school is fully delivering the education that is lawfully mandated for their kids.
We have posted the full editorial but District Deeds strongly urges our readers to click on the title (in red) and read the full article for themselves.
BY THE TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD
SEP. 7, 2021 5 AM PT
ARTICLE IN ITS ENTIRETY:
Over the past year and a half, educators and policymakers fretted over the “learning loss” suffered by students because of remote education, which appeared to be affecting low-income, Black and Latino students the most. Once they returned to physical classrooms, how could we best bring them up to par?
But now a faction of educators and others are rejecting both the term and the idea that there is a serious academic problem. They come from some teachers’ unions, including the president of United Teachers Los Angeles, as well as from some social scientists and other education advocates.
Others have suggested that not only is learning loss a myth but that suggesting it exists is racist because it pigeonholes Black and Latino students and reinforces an unfairly negative image of them. It is, in their eyes, a ploy by capitalist reformers and the companies that create standardized tests to hound public schools.
In an interview with The Times editorial board, UTLA president Cecily Myart-Cruz said she won’t even talk about learning loss, and she expanded on that view in a recent article in Los Angeles magazine.
“There is no such thing as learning loss,” she told the reporter. “Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”
It’s tempting to give just a one-word, obvious response to this sort of statement: Baloney.
It is imperative for the public, parents and policymakers to recognize that this rosy view of the pandemic’s outcome is a form of denial that threatens to compound the harm already visited on vulnerable young people during the last 18 months. We don’t need to panic and pressure students and teachers who have been through a rough time and for whom daily school life has not really returned to normal yet. But we have to admit that there’s a problem before we can work on making things better.
First, it’s necessary to understand what “learning loss” describes. It doesn’t mean that the children who just entered third grade somehow lost everything they learned in the past year and a half and know less than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic started. Almost all students learned, except maybe those who darkened their videoconferencing profile during classes and checked out. Some of them absorbed close to the same as if they’d been in physical classes every day, studies have found.
But most of them didn’t nearly learn as much as they would have during a normal, in-person year, despite what were often acts of pedagogical heroism by teachers. And the evidence that the pandemic put the brakes on academic progress, with special harm to Black, Latino and Native American students, is overwhelming. Two recent reports detailed how much further behind students were from where they would have been if the pandemic had not shuttered their campuses. The gaps are much bigger for those three groups, who had been struggling more in school long before the pandemic.
It’s not clear how anyone would know whether or how many students learned resilience and critical thinking rather than simply being traumatized by the abnormal days of pandemic life and lacking counseling and a social life. And it’s good if they learned the word “insurrection,” but that’s an infinitesimal part of what students need academically, which include reading, writing, research, analysis and math skills at the very least. One of the reports said that significant numbers of students are unlikely ever to reach the education levels that they otherwise would have achieved, which will cost them dearly in terms of stability and earning power over their lifetime, and cost society as a whole.
Standardized tests are not and never should have been the be-all measurement of academic excellence. But they are not the work of the devil; they can be one useful tool for assessing what students are learning and what areas most need addressing.
A recent report out of a UC Berkeley-based learning institute detailed the innovative ways in which teachers at charter schools overcame the obstacles of remote learning and have been maximizing their students’ learning. But at least some traditional public schools, such as Glendale Unified, are taking extraordinary steps as well to build on kids’ successes during the pandemic while addressing the learning gaps that confront individual students. L.A. Unified is providing specialized, individualized help for primary-grade students in reading and math.
Looking for new and different ways to engage students who have been through a disruptive time doesn’t have to mean making already exhausted teachers do additional work or blaming them for what students didn’t learn if they turned off their computer cameras during class.
But we also can’t address a problem — and it is a problem, even if they know the difference between a protest and a coup — unless we are willing to name it, look it in the eye and recognize its truth.
DISTRICT DEEDS ANALYSIS:
With the new 2021/2022 school year launched in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) the theory of widespread learning loss for the neediest Students has become a reality. From multiple SDUSD on-site sources, those Students whose families didn’t have the financial capacity for home-schooling, study groups with tutors or other non public school district supports have lost months of learning and are much farther behind their more affluent peers.
The quote in the LA Times Editorial from the United Teachers Los Angeles (teacher union) President is shocking:
“There is no such thing as learning loss,” she told the reporter. “Our kids didn’t lose anything.”
So what does the SDEA (SDUSD Teacher Union) say about this subject?
Here is a Facebook post from the SDEA quoting a Student from Chicago from 10 days ago:
A PACE study from back in January, 2021 tells a different story.
On its website, PACE describes itself as follows:
The study by PACE holds extra significance since our former Superintendent is on the Advisory Board:
The study is titled “COVID-19 and the Educational Equity Crisis – Evidence on Learning Loss From the CORE Data Collaborative“. This study shows the learning loss for both elementary/middle school students and for economically disadvantaged and ELL Students.
First the elementary/middle school student learning loss:
Now the learning loss of socioeconomically disadvantaged:
Another study, this one cited in the editorial from McKinsey and Company, illustrates the learning loss by race, income and location:
It is clear from these studies that learning loss is a reality.
So what interventions has the SDUSD taken to address this massive learning loss?
An article in EdSource from December, 2020 describes the SDUSD plan. From quotes directly attributed to SDUSD Management and Teachers it is clear how the corrupt and incompetent SDUSD leadership plans on avoiding ALL educational accountability and transparency.
The SDUSD has launched a very simple “2 step” approach.
- Deploy “Fear” of student emotional damage as an excuse to deny diagnostic tests to measure learning loss before during or after the 2021/2022 school year.
- Deploy non-Pandemic Tested “Just In Time Teaching” on top of the existing chaos for struggling students that is untrackable and unreportable.
Here is the breakdown on the ridiculously corrupt “SDUSD 2 Step”:
Deploy “Fear” of student emotional damage as an excuse to deny diagnostic tests to measure learning loss before during or after the 2020/2021 school year.
In the EdSource article the individual in charge of this ridiculous “plan” in Math states the following:
“The diagnostic test is an emotional task. It’s designed to find where students don’t know the answer,” Martinez said. “My third-grade son had to take a test at the end of the school year in distance learning, and it took nearly five days, and he cried every day. For me, it was a culminating moment about how we are influencing and shaping their math identity when we start by saying, ‘Look at all the things you don’t know and you missed.’”
So the decision to not deploy important diagnostic tests to determine the scope and scale of the learning loss was based on the emotions of a 3rd grade student?!?
Let’s apply this logic to other “tests” that parents and their children have to courageously face:
If a child has a large lump on their body, should the Doctor refuse to give that child a diagnostic biopsy to determine how bad the growth could be to the child’s health?
Of course not.
If a child cannot see clearly, should the Optometrist refuse to give the child a diagnostic vision test to determine the vision or eye problem?
Of course not.
If a child is unable to speak clearly should a Speech Therapist refuse to give the child a diagnostic speech analysis to determine the cause of the speech problem?
Of course not.
Thousands of SDUSD families bravely face these decisions every day and successfully deal with it with minimal emotional damage to their kids.
But according to the SDUSD, for thousands of children who obviously have 18 month educational damage that potentially pre-dates the pandemic, there should be no diagnostic testing because it will hurt their feelings.
The SDUSD, who have had no apologies for permanently damaging student education before and during the pandemic through corrupt, secretive leadership, the hybrid learning regular school year disaster and faux Summer School Experience scam, feels it is justified in refusing to analyze the damage they have done based on the potential tears of a 3rd grader?
Let’s get real…the reason the SDUSD doesn’t want to deploy diagnostic testing is because they will find that the Students in some schools will have a “learning loss” LONGER that the pandemic length. They would be exposed with that reporting that the “learning loss” is due to the massive SDUSD education failure for almost a decade and NOT solely due to the pandemic.
Deploy non-Pandemic Tested “Just In Time Teaching” on top of the existing chaos for struggling students that is untrackable and unreportable.
The EdSource article states:
“This fall, the district is encouraging teachers to keep on pace with grade-level content in math and address questions from students as they come up in a method referred to as “just-in-time teaching.””
“San Diego Unified’s approach stems from guidance shared by education groups, such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, which this summer released a toolkit with guidance on how schools should treat math education as the pandemic continues.”
What a shock!
A national “education group” that represents Teachers recommends the SDUSD deploy an non-piloted, pandemic damage unproven/untested instruction method on the heals of a pandemic where it is virtually impossible to evaluate Teacher performance. We are positive that the SDEA (SDUSD Teacher Union) is ecstatic over this decision and will continue to pump union dues money into the campaigns of all the Board of Education members who support it.
How will a Principal or a District measure the effectiveness of “just in time” teaching prowess and deployment by each teacher equitably?
They won’t track it because it is impossible to track.
And the poorest, youngest students will suffer the most.
The end result of the “SDUSD 2 Step” is zero transparency and no accountability for the SDUSD, the Teachers and the district leadership…business as usual.
And ultimately, the business as usual will be another full year of accumulated learning loss for the youngest, poorest and most socially vulnerable families that will continue to be educationally abused by the corrupt SDUSD administration.
Now, for the first time in District Deeds history, we will repeat the “Quote of the Week” from our August 22, 2021 post for ALL those vulnerable youngest, poorest and most socially vulnerable families:
“Someplace between apathy and anarchy is the stance of the thinking human being. He does embrace a cause, he does take a position, and can’t allow it to become business as usual. Humanity is our business.” – Rod Serling
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