Sun Gazette editorial: APS fails in e-learning (again …) | Editorials



[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

We start with the good news, as it is: credit the management of Arlington Public Schools for not trying to hide the fact that their VLP (Virtual Learning Program) has really had the first three months. , really, really difficult.

As recently as October 14, when Superintendent Francisco Durán provided school board members with an update – or, more specifically, asked staff to provide the update while they remained largely silent – the problems had not been resolved and the 630 students (approximately 2.4% of the student population) whose families had chosen this mode of instruction for the school year 2021-22 were even further behind.

It is somewhat incomprehensible that principals could not have solved, if not all, at least most of the challenges they needed to know were coming.

First of all, it’s not like it’s a lot of students; 630 is a number that should be manageable. And it’s not like the school district is starting from scratch; it kept ALL students in a “virtual” environment for about a year from March 2020.

And again, they blew it. Program staff and management could not be recruited or abandoned; technology seemed a complete challenge; and communication within the school system and between the school system and families appears to have been ineffective.

And while the number of participants in the program is relatively small, these are students who in many cases need all the TLC they can get from the school system:

• Sixty percent come from low-income families. • Forty percent learn English. • Twenty-five percent are in special education programs.

These are some of the students who lost the most, in terms of education, in the year and a half from March 2020 to August 2021, and deserve better than what they have received since then.

(Where were the school board members while this was all going on? Presumably spending time with topics they considered more urgent: renaming buildings, transgender bathrooms, and kicking cops off campus .)

We’re going to pay tribute to school board member Cristina Diaz-Torres who pushed Durán to take more concrete action to ensure students in the online program receive remedial support to make up for what has been lost. “Do whatever it takes to make this happen,” she told the superintendent in a tone that might sound imperious, but we approve.

At least someone’s dander knows about it. Too many leadership positions seem to be wringing their hands, fearing to act boldly to fix the mess they have created.


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