Despite a law passed in the last legislative session that prohibits dual instruction, the State Department of Education (SDE) issued guidelines yesterday that undermine lawmakers’ intent and allow districts to move forward. before using the dual instruction model which studies have shown is detrimental to students.
“This attempt to codify and create a narrative where dual instruction is permitted is puzzling, given that dual instruction was banned in the last legislative session,” CEA President Kate Dias told the journalists at a CEA and AFT Connecticut press conference, denouncing the new SDE guidelines. Read the CEA press release.
“Legislators expect, when they pass legislation, and I know this firsthand, that our administrative departments will carry out the wishes of those legislators who listen to their constituents, gather the facts and take action,” he said. said ACE executive director Donald Williams, a former president of the state Senate. “Once in a while, and this is a great example, an administrative department turns its back on what the legislature did and what the voters wanted.”
As a maths teacher in Manchester working during the pandemic, Dias had direct experience of dual instruction which divided his attention between his students in person and those online virtually, which diluted the learning experience. for both groups.
“Adopting dual training practices is really throwing in the towel on best practices. He says, ‘Some kids get the best, some don’t,’ Dias said.
She explained that remote learning has its place and that teachers are not opposed to intentional remote learning or creative teaching practices, but to expect teachers to effectively instruct students in the classroom and on computer at the same time is to expect the impossible.
Norwalk Federation of Teachers president Mary Yordon said dual teaching was an unfortunate experience that stemmed from the emergency that existed at the start of the pandemic. “In real life, in real time, during the first excruciating years of this pandemic, we learned that co-teaching was a failed experiment that we should no longer engage in. If we are to overcome the learning crisis facing far too many students in far too many Connecticut school districts, there are better choices and more effective models.
She continued, “The new guidelines allow for dual teaching models to be implemented across the state due to differences in learning through a PPT or 504 process, for illness and for inter- and intra-district collaboration. Students who would benefit the most from a proven instructional model are now allowed to be exposed to the model with the poorest learning environment.
Every educator who spoke today argued against the idea that dual instruction could in any way improve equity in our schools or reduce the racial isolation of students from underserved communities, such as indicated in the SDE guidelines.
Westport teacher Faith Sweeney said she could imagine affluent suburban neighborhoods using dual teaching as a loophole to avoid real integration into their schools by having pupils from urban districts join the distance learning rather than in person.
“Just because students from diverse backgrounds come into a classroom remotely doesn’t mean they’re building relationships with their teacher or other students from other communities,” she said. “Connecticut needs to do better. Connecticut needs to think about fully funding programs that will provide better opportunities, greater access, and increase diversity.
“Only a year ago, the State Department of Education released its evaluation report concluding that, during the pandemic, the greatest learning loss has been experienced by students in distance hybrid formats. . The best, obviously, was in person, in class,” Williams said. “So SDE’s own evidence shows that this dual education model is flawed, inferior. It’s a second-class education for the students who need it most.
“We are already facing a shortage of teachers,” said Carol Gale, president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers. “One of the reasons we have a teacher shortage is that teachers across the country feel overwhelmed and undervalued, and that’s very true for Hartford and many of our districts here in Connecticut. So if you want to get rid of more teachers, ask them to do more and ask them to give instructions that we know as educators don’t work.
Dias said Bridgeport and New London are cited as models of best practice for dual instruction in SDE guidance, but when she contacted the two districts, neither had any knowledge of the referenced programs.
“All of this advice is not based on reality, and that is problematic. We will continue to stand firmly against what is portrayed as bad practice and harmful to children in the State of Connecticut.
She continued, “Those of us who practice and in the classroom have a very different perspective from those who administer. And I think that’s really what part of the division is about. Those of us who have practiced this and lived with the consequences of dual education have very strong feelings about its negative impact on children. I think people who haven’t had to think it’s no big deal, and I think there’s a big gap there. And I honestly think it’s time to listen to the teachers. We know what we are talking about. »