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Schools are innovating in unprecedented turmoil




Laura Mitchell, Contributor Published 11:43 am ET November 21, 2020

Mark Minelli, left, son Nico, 3, right, crayon, Thursday, April 2, 2020, in the Northside district of Cincinnati. In the afternoon, parents spend 30 minutes on Nico to complete the Cincinnati Public School Reinforcement Packet. (Photo: Kareem Elgazzar / The Enquirer)

Did the pandemic overturn the future of education?

Our world has been upset. Grocery shopping, work, socializing, and yes, schools are barely recognizable. Manage the next urgent item in the list. But in this era of historic turmoil, I argue that it is just as essential to stay focused on the future.

Innovation is born from the turmoil, and Cincinnati Public Schools are no exception. For 191 years since our founding, we have adapted and constantly challenged to prepare for our students’ lives in response to the evolving world.

The pandemic exposes the naked vulnerabilities felt by many students and disciplines that must be addressed not only to “overcome” this difficult time, but also to become a better educator after overcoming it. Brought.

Racial and ethnic disparities, especially between blacks and Latinos, permeate our communities and education systems. The pandemic has already strengthened high barriers for people of color, including the digital divide.

Technology is essential to learning, and before the pandemic, CPS invested heavily in one-on-one device programs. We accelerated this work in March and all students got a takeaway device.

Papis Cissokho, 12, and his dad Diadie check out the laptop Papis published at the Taft Information Technology High School on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Papis is in the second year of junior high school. Next month, Cincinnati Public Schools will distribute 30,000 devices to 2-12 students at 65 schools in the district. This laptop allows students to complete school work at home on days when they are not at school. During the new coronavirus pandemic, students were issued an iPad. They need to be returned. (Photo: Liz Dufour / The Enquirer)

Thanks to the generous support of community partners such as the Cincinnati Bell and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, we have provided free internet to CPS students. Without this partnership, about one in six of our students would not have access to teachers and classmates during distance learning.

But this is a short-term solution. In a future that requires education anytime, anywhere, for reasons we haven’t yet considered, for good reasons such as homework and access to resources, a significant number of CPS students face an inherently unfavorable future. I will.

As a community, we need to address one of the most basic technologies, the lack of access to the Internet. This is a more complex ideal and the private and public sectors need to work together to make collective decisions in order to invest in the future of our students.

At the other end of the spectrum from technology, the lesson is that social connectivity is more important than ever. After working together for weeks in distance learning, the students were really pleased when they first met the teacher in person. Video chat has important social and emotional support that cannot be provided to students, and these relationships and services cannot be taken for granted. We have learned to cherish them more than ever.

Aiken High School teacher Kyle Monaghan (left) and Parker Woods Montessori paraprofessional Melody Johnson check in their iPad to Tuft Information Technology High School students on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 to check out their new laptop. Out , Cincinnati Public School distributes 30,000 devices to 2-12 students at 65 schools in the district. This laptop allows students to complete school work at home on days when they are not at school. During the new coronavirus pandemic, students were issued an iPad. They need to be returned. (Photo: Liz Dufour / The Enquirer)

Finally, we must renew the debate about educating our students, not just going to school. School education focuses on school day protocols, but education means helping students use the knowledge they gain to make decisions and learn to change their behavior.

School traps are not schools, and we must continue to relentlessly focus on shaping future leaders. At Cincinnati Public Schools, this means investing in a new school. For example, initiatives such as My Tomorrow, which fosters the next generation of leaders through career paths, and Vision 2020, which enables students to succeed in a professional curriculum in today’s world.

This pandemic has taught us that we can reshape and transform our education, and I believe the future is bright. Double the work we started by leading the end of systematic racism, prioritizing the social and emotional support students need, and moving from school to education in one fell swoop. By doing so, we continue to prepare future leaders in an unimagined world.

Laura Mitchell is the superintendent of Cincinnati Public School.

Laura Mitchell (Photo: Courtesy)

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