Pity the public school teachers. They’re having a rough time.
Sure, some small minority of teachers might be finding new hobbies or just living their best life in their pajamas all day, but most are tearing out their hair, trying to make the best of a horrible arrangement known as remote learning or virtual schooling.
Only 22% of all teachers in regular public schools (not counting charter schools) say they feel very prepared for online learning, according to a poll by the group Ed Choice.
It’s not surprising that only a minority of teachers in all categories feel very prepared. The job they trained for and are experienced in was thoroughly personal. Being in the room with students was central to their pedagogy.
It’s also not a surprise that public school teachers would find it harder, for many reasons. First, private schools and charter schools are smaller, which often makes it easier for them to adapt to the needs of students. Second, many (not all) private schools have more money per student and so can afford the tools needed to do a decent job at remote teaching.
Most important, though, may be the rigid, one-size-fits-all mentality in many public school districts. Flexibility, experimentation, diversity in methods and approaching — those are all frowned upon by bureaucrats and labor unions that are ideologically dedicated to eradicating differences, systematizing everything, and promoting uniformity.
Countless public school teachers are adapting anyway, but on their own and without institutional support.
Parents see that quality is suffering, and so, they’re moving their children out of public schools — either to private schools that are meeting in person or private schools that simply are adapting better to distance learning.
NPR carried a story last week about the massive outflows from public school systems. The reports found “enrollment declines in dozens of school districts across 20 states. Large and small, rich and poor, urban and rural — in most of these districts the decline is a departure from recent trends.”
A lot of the drop is reportedly among kindergartners. Zoom classes are pointless at best for 5-year-olds and are often torture for them. Many parents are willing to spend a little extra to get their children into a fun, engaging in-person kindergarten if the “public” alternative is so dreadful.