My name is Aaron Rothfusz, and I am a 3rd-year elementary education major at Wartburg with endorsements in Reading, Social Studies, and Coaching. This was a very informative read and raised some key points in standardized tests, pandemic assistance, and the separation of public and private schools.
With COVID-19 effectively bringing our normal lives to a startling halt, returning to a normal lifestyle has been a slow and rather stressful time for each and every one of us. However, if this transition was a difficult one for adults, who have been adjusted to the constant changes that life brings, there has not been enough consideration as to how children must be feeling throughout this. With the Senate Republican Bill offering roughly $500 billion in relief, only $105 billion was designated for education, with much of it being used to the physical reopening of school buildings. The House Democrat passed the Heros Act, which has $100.15 billion earmarked solely for education. $1 billion of that was designated for state and local budgets affected by declining tax revenues during the higher unemployment rates of the pandemic. The Senate Democrat proposed a $430 billion bill for child care, K-12 schools, and higher education. $345 billion of that is designated for the Education Stabilization Fund, which would coincide with the CARES Act, helping to provide $175 billion for K-12 schools, $132 billion for higher education, and $33 billion for a Governor's fund.
With each of these groups pushing for the reopening of schools, they each have drastically different ideas on where the money should be going. Since this is a relief bill for K-12 schools, I believe that the most important factor in this bill is ensuring that children will feel safe and secure going back to a school during this pandemic, which has by some, been described as the "new normal". However, when it comes to assessments, there is no logical way to hold state-mandated tests in even a similar fashion as to how they have been done previously while maintaining six-foot distancing. Currently, in the 1st-grade classroom, the teachers are doing all that they can, but insisting that students wear masks all the time is not something that is feasible. Nor is it feasible to ask for schools to push for these nationwide tests that have already been proven as ineffective in measuring knowledge and growth with growing test anxiety. If you add anxiety over COVID-19, students will not be able to focus, therefore, they won't do their best on these tests.
Public schools need to be opened, I agree. However, making sure to wait until students and parents are comfortable is a necessary step in the betterment of education. If standardized tests must occur, have them be done in limited capacities, and when possible, out of the school. Also, public schools are where this pandemic assistance should stay, as a federal judge ruled since Betsy DeVos so incorrectly stated that more of this assistance should go to private schools. Private schools are not struggling financially, nor are they overrun with students and exhausted and underpaid teachers. Public education is important, but in order for education to work, we first need to create an environment that is welcoming and safe for the youth and future minds of our workforce.