Governor’s Misguided Education Comments Send The Wrong Message

 During a recent press conference, the governor announced that he’s enlisting the help of Bill and Melinda Gates in an effort to “reimagine” the state’s education system. The governor seems to be considering some radical proposals. He dismissively referred to the idea of students sitting in a classroom and learning from a teacher standing in the front of the class as the “old model.”

“Why? With all the technology you have?” he asked.

For many teachers, administrators, parents and students, this would amount to a historic bait and switch. Closing schools was one of the many emergency restrictions the governor sold to the public as a temporary sacrifice to mitigate an unprecedented crisis. And while teachers and administrators should be commended for their efforts to implement distance learning on the fly, education advocates have been quick to point out its limitations in the wake of the governor’s comments.

“Since the schools were shut down in mid-March, our understanding of the profound deficiencies of screen-based instruction has only grown. The use of education tech has its place, but only as an ancillary to in-person learning, not as its replacement.” That’s what the NYS Allies for Public Education, Class Size Matters and the Parents Coalition for Student Privacy said in a letter to the governor. New York State United Teachers were even more direct: “Remote learning, in any form, will never replace the important personal connection between teachers and their students.”

The approach isn’t just flawed. It’s also inaccessible for far too many children. Far too many families in rural areas can’t access a reliable internet connection. Far too many families in poverty across the state simply don’t have the technology to provide their children with an effective workspace for digital learning.

As government officials, we need to do what’s best for our children. Children belong in school. It’s where they form lasting bonds and friendships, it’s where they learn how to work together. It’s where they learn trade skills and life skills. It’s where they join sports teams, theatrical productions and volunteer groups. It’s where our students with special needs receive the services they deserve. Instead of leaning on a celebrity who has championed his share of failed education initiatives, the governor should be working with our teachers, administrators and parents to meet the needs of every child in this state. 

We aren’t going to move our education system forward by permanently emptying our classrooms.

What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, or find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook.  

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