Veteran teachers surveyed worry about Covid’s long-term harm on California students

At the end of the day, students will have lost a minimum of 18 months of education, teachers not a dime in pay or benefits.  Then the teachers will ask for more money, for years, to get the kids “caught up”.  They created the problem, then we reward them for refusing to teach.

“And three-quarters of the 121 teachers surveyed say “less advantaged students” — low-income students, students with disabilities, foster, homeless and low-income children — will bear the brunt of the harm, worsening disparities in learning that existed before the Covid pandemic.

“When you have a school where 90% of the students live in poverty, it makes any learning hard,” said an elementary-middle school teacher in a north coast region school. “Some kids are thriving right now without the social pressures of being at school, but many are completely checked out. Many kids also don’t have access to the internet, which is a huge barrier even if they have a school-issued computer.”

I would Recall every school board member that allowed the campuses and classrooms to be closed—the scientific data showed the classrooms were the safest place for kids—instead government educators allowed kids to check out, growing suicides and drug use.  Nothing good from this crowd of educrats.

Veteran teachers surveyed worry about Covid’s long-term harm on California students

First of a series exploring teachers’ observations and experiences during the pandemic

John Fensterwald, EdSource,  2/19/21   

In the first comprehensive survey of California teachers’ experiences during distance learning, a majority confirm the biggest worries of many policymakers and education leaders: They say they believe their students risk long-term academic and mental health damage from the Covid pandemic.

Read the findings

In their own words, 121 California teachers capture the challenges of distance learning and the impact on students after a year in a pandemic. The Inverness Institute conducted the survey. Future installments of “Teachers reflect on a year of learning under Covid” will include lessons learned from teaching remotely and advice to colleagues and policymakers. In this first installment you’ll find:

And three-quarters of the 121 teachers surveyed say “less advantaged students” — low-income students, students with disabilities, foster, homeless and low-income children — will bear the brunt of the harm, worsening disparities in learning that existed before the Covid pandemic.

“When you have a school where 90% of the students live in poverty, it makes any learning hard,” said an elementary-middle school teacher in a north coast region school. “Some kids are thriving right now without the social pressures of being at school, but many are completely checked out. Many kids also don’t have access to the internet, which is a huge barrier even if they have a school-issued computer.”

The survey project, called the California Teacher Consultant Response Network, was created by the California nonprofit The Inverness Institute and education consultant Daniel Humphrey. EdSource is partnering to present the findings.

In late January, the teachers, who broadly represent the state’s teachers’ ethnic diversity, geographical distribution, subject expertise and grade level, responded to 25 questions asking about the state of students’ learning and emotional and social health, their own ability to deliver remote instruction and barriers to learning confronting their students and families.

The teachers amplified their answers with hundreds of frank, detailed and often poignant comments that show, the researchers said, “the distress, anger, frustration and sorrow these teachers feel as they describe the struggles of their students and their families.” To encourage candor, the researchers are not identifying the teachers’ names and their schools.

Inverness Institute selected the respondents from a pool of veteran classroom teachers who have participated in school improvement and curriculum networks and education leadership programs. Most have more than a decade of teaching experience. Two-thirds teach at the middle and high school levels. 

The first brief covers questions measuring students’ academic learning, and the second delves into their social and emotional needs. “Spotlights” in coming weeks will cover the teaching experience during the pandemic, teachers’ perspective on re-opening schools, teachers’ messages to policymakers and the pandemic’s effects on their career plans and those of other teachers.

Responding to the statement, “A substantial number of my students are in danger of suffering long-term academic damage,” 64% said they agreed at least to some extent, including 18% agreeing to a very great extent. Asked whether their “less-advantaged students will suffer the most long-term damage” from the pandemic, 47% said they believe they would to a “great extent,” while 90% said they would to at least “some extent.”

Similarly, asked “how effective do you feel distance learning has been in terms of meeting your students’ social-emotional needs,” 82% of teachers said that distance learning has not been effective or only somewhat effective, while 1 in 5 reported it had been effective.

And a third of the teachers agreed to a great or very great extent that “a substantial number of their students are in danger of suffering long-term mental health issues.”

Out of a list of seven potential barriers to effective teaching and learning, teachers cited non-academic factors as the most significant: upheaval caused by economic and social distress, emotional trauma of students and families, and social isolation.

“They miss groups, they miss classes, they miss the other half of the student body. They miss rallies and sports and clubs. They seem awkward and traumatized, but I can’t be sure if all of that is because of the knowledge of, and fear of, the global pandemic, or because their social circles have become so much smaller,” wrote a teacher in a northeast California school with 58% low-income students.

Lack of internet access and parental support were further down the list of barriers. But a number of teachers commented that students whose parents were able to stay home and provide help had an unmistakable advantage.

“Some students’ needs are very well met — the ones who attend all Zoom meetings and complete their work. These are students who have adults at home who are supporting them,” said a teacher in an elementary school with 65% low-income students in the San Jose-Monterey region.

“Again, I am not parent bashing”, said a teacher at a north coast elementary school with 96% low-income children. “They are working and are not trained to teach their children nor do I think they should be asked to. That being said, the shift of burden from the classroom to the home required more parental supervision and lack of it is a problem.”

About half of the teachers say they were somewhat satisfied with their students’ academic progress, with about a third reporting they are less than satisfied and a fifth saying they were more than or very satisfied.

“The advanced students are doing most of the work, but there’s less enrichment. The struggling students complete minimal work and overall participation is way down,” wrote a high school teacher at a school with 59% low-income students in the Central Coast region.

“Students are not able to focus or engage as they did when in person. Work completion is also much lower,” wrote a high school teacher at a school in the San Francisco Bay Area with 79% low-income students.

In California, the ratio of students to counselors is 622 to 1, the third highest in the nation. Two-thirds of teachers in the survey indicated there were significantly too few counselors, social workers and nurses to meet the social/emotional and health needs of students.

“Many students seem to be going through tough times,” wrote a teacher in a high school in the San Jose-Monterey region with 86% low-income students. “I know my advisees are doing poorly from a mental health perspective. This is also backed up by the fact that our school mental health counselor has a completely full load this year and can’t take on any new students.”

As for their own teaching, 81% described it as at least somewhat effective, with 6% characterizing it as very effective and 17% as less than or not effective.

“Teachers who are new to online platforms and educational applications are struggling to keep their content relevant and rigorous for students who are not engaged. There is a tyranny of the urgent — just transitioning to an online platform — that trumps the nuances and art of teaching,” wrote a teacher in a high school in the Central Valley with 90% low-income students.

Notwithstanding the pessimism of many comments, the researchers said they were impressed by the “resourcefulness and positivity” that they also found. Many teachers, they concluded, “are figuring out how to make distance learning work, and they are using the opportunity to help their students develop resiliency, independence and new skills.”

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. In California, the amount from the 1.9 Trillion Biden is giving away will be devoured by the teacher union. They WANT students behind. And, at the schools, most counselors are USELESS. They are “too busy” to talk to students and COUNSEL. Most are CLUELESS about day to day classroom routines. How about this novel idea…… make every counselor Be in the classroom as a teacher for at least 10 years. Not ESL, not Avid, not Puente, or any other Mickey Mouse classes. Have them teach real classes. Then they will see just how it is being a teacher. Then and only and then can they start doing their “counseling “work.

  2. Obviously Bobby e has NO understanding of the job school counselors do. To understand both sides one has to have some experience on both sides. Today high school counselors main job is trying their best within parameters developed by those above them, including teachers, to place the students in classes appropriate to the student’s knowledge, willingness to do school work, driving teacher crazy, dealing with parents with objectives that the student is not achieving, attending a significant number of special placement meetings that they must, by law, attend, after school meetings with parents, students, teachers, administration and community, registering new students and a multitude of other tasks designed to keep the system running as smooth as possible. Of course mixed in there is as much time as they can spend helping students with personal problems. That is NOT their primary job contrary to title.. The teacher’s job is to teach a subject to students whether they want that subject or not. Most classes in the high school level today are required, with different levels of performance required by the level of the class.
    At the elementary level teachers and counselors try to teach the students specific knowledge, standards of behavior, how to work together. Depending on grade level those expectations vary. Today, in California, the student basically does not have to behave or follow the teacher’s rules. That is totally inappropriate but an easy solution for politicians, parents, students and administration. Education at the K-12 level is not functioning for at least a forth to a third of the students. Parenting has been turned over to the school by many families. Where does it go from here? Who knows.

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