MDE Says Online Learning Cannot Count For K12 Education, Leaving Parents And Students In Limbo

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer continues to issue emergency orders that close public places in an attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

The governor closed the schools for three weeks in the hope that they would reopen on April 6. This order can be extended and it now seems likely.

This leaves students, families, administrators and teachers in limbo. Will the students have to attend the summer school? Will they be withheld a mark if there is no possibility of completing the school year? They wonder how to ensure that students receive the education they deserve in this new reality.

When the governor ordered the schools closed, Novi Superintendent Steve Matthews said his district was ready with a Plan B to serve Novi’s 6,400 students. He says Novi has spent years developing an online platform for students and also helping parents learn how to use it.

“We understand that there is a significant difference between in-person classroom instruction and online instruction, but when the school was announced to close, everyone received some sort of direction or orders from. walked or at least the assumption was made that the state wanted us to continue providing educational opportunities to our students, ”says Matthews.

So Matthews says it was a big disappointment when the Michigan Department of Education announced last week that online learning would not count towards a district’s school days and state funding. that goes with.

“Do we have to watch school for the first time in the summer?” Do we have to watch some in June, others in August, but still have summer vacation? – Don Wotruba

In a statement, Michigan Superintendent of Public Education Michael Rice said state law left no options for the department. Schools must be able to demonstrate 75% attendance in order to qualify for state payment for a day. And Rice says the state currently does not have a system to measure online attendance.

Don Wotruba of the Michigan Association of School Boards says Rice made the right choice.

“In the short term, this is a legitimate place to land,” says Wotruba.

Wotruba says equity and resources are two issues. Not all children have a computer at home. There are still parts of the state that do not have high speed internet access. Not all districts have robust e-learning platforms, like the one in Novi.

Wotruba says the state should, if it comes to this, be prepared to extend the school year.

“Do we have to watch school for the first time in the summer?” ” he asks. “Do we have to look at some in June, some in August, but do we still have a summer break?” “

But the position of the Ministry of Education is controversial within state government. Governor Whitmer said she was “appalled” by the decision.

“We’re going to work to make sure the kids get the education or the equivalent of an education as needed so that they can finish this year after receiving the education they were supposed to get,” she said.

Whitmer also says schools should not withhold students from a mark or refuse to allow seniors to graduate because of wasted days of instruction.

And Whitmer, a Democrat, is also under pressure – from Republicans in the Legislature.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield sent her a letter asking, among other things, that Whitmer use the emergency powers she invoked to shut down school buildings so that e-learning is considered in state aid payments. The governor says she is ready to work with the legislature on a plan.

The House and Senate are tentatively scheduled to meet on Wednesday.

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