Commentary: Education’s unprecedented present may forecast future problems

As we approach the end of a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented upheaval to education, and as schools lurch backward and forward and back again in varying stages of reopening their campuses, parents are understandably worried about the future.

They wonder about the long-term impact of all the disruption, and if their children will suffer lasting harm.

The answer: Yes. No. It depends.

Now that I’ve cleared that up for you, I will amend the above to state categorically that no one can predict with anything approaching precision how the long-range effects on students will manifest. Although we have hints from history, some educated guesses and earnest efforts to mitigate the impact, the uniqueness of our current situation obstructs our long-range view toward what lies ahead.

The 1918 flu pandemic fundamentally altered the world, but that was a different disease that hit young people particularly hard, and it occurred long before computers and the Internet could be used for distance learning.

More recently, the school shutdowns in Christchurch, New Zealand after an earthquake in 2011 did not result in long-term learning losses, researchers found. It was similar after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. But those closures lasted weeks, not several months, and were contained to specific geographic areas.

Among the biggest worries now is that our current crisis is exacerbating the deep inequalities that already existed in education.

Since the beginning of the pandemic and the switch to mainly online learning, schools have experienced increases in absenteeism, and attention-deficit and motivational issues have multiplied. Some students didn’t have access to the devices or Wi-Fi they needed to connect to their classes, and many had difficulties finding adequate space to do their work.

All these problems hit students on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum hardest. And even though school administrators and teachers have been working overtime to bring disadvantaged students up to speed, those kids remain at risk of suffering disproportionate learning losses.

The consequences of those losses could unfold in significant ways in the years to come.

A report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. warned of larger academic achievement gaps and higher drop-out rates that simply can’t be erased in a year. It’s possible we will see long-term harm to individuals and society, including greater income disparities, higher crime rates and lower economic growth, it said.

These are not inevitable outcomes, McKinsey noted. But lasting damage is increasingly likely if we don’t urgently intervene to give more support to the most vulnerable students.

The other, possibly even greater, concern is over the potential impact to the social-emotional development and well-being of students.

From primary grades to higher education, schools have long assumed responsibility for fostering the growth of what is often referred to as “the whole child.” Schools aren’t seen as mere academic factories but also play a key role in developing kids’ broader understanding of how to function in society. They are where students learn to navigate relationships, explore interests

Read more

Politics Divides How Americans View Higher Education’s Response To The Pandemic

Americans are about equally divided in their opinions about whether colleges that reopened their campuses this fall for in-person attendance did the right thing. Half of those surveyed said those campuses made the right decision, and 48% indicated they didn’t, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

The nation’s views on whether campus leaders made the right choice when bringing students back to campus are deeply divided along party lines. Among Republicans or people who lean Republican, 74% said in-person campuses had done the right thing, compared to just 29% percent of Democrats or individuals who lean Democratic saying the same.

The poll provides another piece of evidence suggesting how influential political forces have been in shaping colleges’ reopening plans. Other recent research revealed that campuses’ reopening decisions were linked to the political identity of their state, with both public and private universities in red states more likely to open in person.

This partisan gap is just one more example of how political affiliation influences Americans’ views of actions concerning the coronavirus more broadly. Previous Pew Research Center surveys found that Republicans and Democrats differ in their views about the severity of the public health crisis, restrictions on businesses, and mask wearing.

The new Pew survey also found that by a more than 2:1 margin, Americans believe the educational value of online courses does not equal that of in-person learning. While majorities of both Republicans and Democrats express this view, Democrats (33%) were a bit more likely than Republicans (26%) to say online classes provide an equal value.

College graduates were also particularly skeptical about on-line classes. Among those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 75% believed online classes didn’t provide an equal educational value. Among those with some college education, 67% held that view, as did 64% of respondents with a high school diploma or less.

Views of Higher Education’s General Direction

The survey also included the following question: “Now, thinking about the higher education system, that is colleges and universities, in the United States today…Do you think the higher education system in the U.S. is generally going in the right direction or wrong direction?”

The answers make one thing clear: Higher education is facing a critical public. Only 41% indicated they thought higher education in the U.S. was generally going in the right direction, while a majority (56%) said it’s going in the wrong direction. A 2019 Pew Research Center survey found similar concerns – only half of American adults thought colleges and universities were having a positive effect on the way things were going in the country. About four-in-ten (38%) said they were having a negative impact – up from 26% in 2012.

Partisan political identification is strongly associated with opinions about higher education. Democrats are about evenly split over the direction of higher education – about half (49%) say higher education is going in the right direction,

Read more

Mitsubishi Strada boosts Department of Education’s mobility efforts

The Japanese automaker Mitsubishi’s local arm is set to power the Department of Education (DepEd) anew after handing over a new fleet to the department’s office in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippine Corporation (MMPC), through its Mitsubishi Motors Carworld Pampanga dealership, handed over the keys of a total of 166 Strada 4×4 GLS MT units. The latest number will add to the 88 trucks that were initially delivered back in December last year.

All in all, the latest Mitsubishi units that were purchased by DepEd are now at 254 units.

The Mitsubishi Strada trucks—which were received last October 1—will be the official service vehicles of the Field Engineers of DepEd for their regular field inspections.

mmpc strada
mmpc strada

 During the turnover ceremonies, Education Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua expressed their vision towards meeting their goals.

“No school division office will be left behind, as we continue to gear up our actions, hold on the wheels of our goals, focus on our vision, and have a safe ride with our mission he said.

 Aside from the abovementioned task, the Mitsubishi Strada vehicles will also serve as rescue trucks for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) during emergencies or calamities.

mmpc strada
mmpc strada

For his part, Laus Group of Companies President Paul Laus expressed the company’s gratitude over the confidence that the government agency has accorded to them.

“We are honored to have been selected as the official vehicle of the Department of Education. We guarantee the government agency that the Strada is a very reliable pick-up truck that is built to be durable and engineered to deliver outstanding performance. Mitsubishi Carworld Pampanga is also committed to provide excellent service for the regular maintenance of the vehicles.” Laus noted.

Photo/s from Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation

Also read:

Mitsubishi PH Launches Updated Mitsubishi Strada (with VIDEO)

Mitsubishi PH Brings Strada Athlete to its Stable

Mitsubishi Ups the Ante with Xpander Cross

Source Article

Read more

DeVos says it isn’t Department of Education’s job to track schools’ coronavirus reopening plans

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump creates federal council on global tree planting initiative | Green group pushes for answers on delayed climate report | Carbon dioxide emissions may not surpass 2019 levels until 2027: analysis Trump creates federal government council on global tree planting initiative Private schools prove reopening learning institutions safely can be done MORE said Tuesday it is not the job of her department to track school districts’ reopening plans or the number of coronavirus cases they are grappling with as districts look for guidance as to how to conduct classes safely during the pandemic. 

“Well I’m not sure there’s a role for the Department of Education to compile and conduct that research,” DeVos said Tuesday at an event hosted by the Milken Institute in response to a question about the role of the federal government to boost confidence regarding in-person schooling. 

“The data is there for those who want it,” she added, referring to figures kept by local and state government.

The remarks come as public school districts across the country scramble to figure out how to provide safe, in-person instruction during the pandemic and assure anxious parents that reopening won’t help spread more cases of COVID-19.

Top education groups have formed a dashboard of school infection rates that has collected information from over 2,000 schools thus far, though educators have called on the federal government to take a more proactive role in providing guidance from Washington. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: ‘The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it’ Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE and other administration officials have been bullish that schools should reopen, expressing doubts that the coronavirus could spread among younger students who could more effectively combat the illness.

But that stance has received pushback from top activists across the country, saying the White House is downplaying the risks of reopening and should work more closely with state and local governments regarding how to safely resume schooling.

“Donald Trump’s disregard for science has already cost 200,000 American lives during this pandemic. Secretaries Alex Azar and Betsy DeVos are accomplices in this malicious incompetence,” National Education Association (NEA) President Becky Pringle wrote in a September letter, referring to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Source Article

Read more

Private education’s role in Durham University disgrace | Durham University

As one of those concerned about the social and psychological damage caused by class privilege in British society, I am grateful to the Durham University student Lauren White for exposing the abuse she and others have received from some of their fellow students (Students from northern England facing ‘toxic attitude’ at Durham University, 19 October). However, your report does not identify the factor that most, if not all, the abusers will have had in common: their private education.

For those with experience of universities with similar social compositions to Durham, these students’ experiences will be all too familiar. With the products of private schools constituting well in excess of 30% of students at universities such as Oxford, Bristol, Exeter, St Andrews, Edinburgh and Cambridge, as well as Durham – even though they represent only 7% of the relevant age cohort – the arrogant “culture of condescension” that is a by-product of the private schools’ informal role in the reproduction of class privilege, will be daily in evidence.

Social science research has shown that there are strong linkages between private education and the reproduction of class inequality. If Boris Johnson and his ministerial friends were serious about improving the lives of those in northern England who voted for them in 2019, then dealing with private education – and thus its labour market and cultural consequences – would be on their agenda. But with the privately educated chumocracy in control, there’s no chance of that.
Jeffrey Henderson
Professor emeritus of international development, University of Bristol

• I was saddened to read your account of social discrimination at Durham University. My own shibboleth came in the early 1970s in my first university seminar. I was in a group of three, with one other working-class student and one who spoke with received pronunciation. We were each asked to read a poem by the 16th-century poet Sir Thomas Wyatt. While the student with RP was congratulated on her performance, my Lancashire accent and that of the student from Birkenhead led to our tutor telling us that we “weren’t fit” to read English poetry.

It took me a long time to realise that there were other reasons for his scorn. After all, we were barbarians at the gates of learning, receiving maintenance grants yet obviously unable to speak the Queen’s English. But by then I’d walked away in disgust, working at a series of labouring jobs before re-enrolling elsewhere to complete my degree. How little seems to have changed.
Prof Graham Mort
Burton-in-Lonsdale, Lancashire

• I walked into a comprehensive school down the Old Kent Road in London to teach in 1958 after an interviewer at Oxford University‘s careers department had said to me: “So, Mr Clements, do you mean to tell me that you will not be teaching the sons of English gentlemen?” Where have we got to?
Simon Clements
Former Her Majesty’s inspector of schools, Sheffield

• Lauren White’s experience at Durham University is shocking. But not surprising to residents who live in

Read more

Higher Education’s Big Shake-Up Is Underway

College closures, academic program terminations and institutional mergers are nothing new on the higher education landscape. They’ve gone on for decades, particularly during tight financial times. But this year, during what looks like just the initial phases of the coronavirus pandemic, large-scale administrative restructuring in higher education is accelerating at a pace seldom, if ever, seen before.

No mistake about it: the Big Shake-Up is underway.

Campus Closures

Already during 2020, a number of respected colleges have shuttered their doors or are being acquired by other institutions as administrators come to the realization that their campuses cannot survive the economic trauma wrought by the pandemic. In Illinois, MacMurray College closed and Robert Morris University has been integrated into Roosevelt University. Concordia University-Portland has closed up shop, so have Holy Family College in Wisconsin, and Nebraska Christian College, a branch campus of the Hope International University. In Ohio, Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, called in quits in April because of the coronavirus pandemic and declining enrollment.

Although one could claim that these closures involved mostly small colleges that had been on the enrollment and financial ropes for years, and therefore aren’t the best examples of schools knocked out by the pandemic, that view betrays a false optimism in light of the major universities and university systems now considering large-scale consolidations along with the faculty layoffs often preceding or accompanying them.

Institutional Consolidations

Last Wednesday, the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education approved the next step in a process that could result in California, Clarion and Edinboro universities merging into a single unit in Western Pennsylvania along with the combination of Bloomsburg, Lock Haven and Mansfield universities in the state’s Northern Tier.

“We are seizing an opportunity to rise up together,” PASSHE Chancellor Dan Greenstein told the board for the 14 state-owned universities. Trying to put the best face on it, Greenstein insisted that the mergers would allow the schools to maintain their own identities, save money, benefit students and develop opportunities for growth.

In addition to the six universities targeted for potential mergers, the other universities in the PASSHE system, created in 1982, include: Cheyney, East Stroudsburg, Indiana, Kutztown, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.

The Board’s vote to move forward with additional study and planning for the possible mergers reflects years of pressure to find savings in the system. Over the past decade, overall enrollment at its 14 universities has declined from 119,513 to 93,708 this fall. So while the pandemic may have helped trigger the latest move, the gun has been loaded for some time.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “In Western Pennsylvania, California saw enrollment decline by 27%, Clarion dropped 39% and Edinboro decreased 50%. In the Northern Tier, enrollment declined by 16% at Bloomsburg, 42% at Lock Haven and 47% at

Read more