On March 27, 2020 hundreds of Frederick County parents sat in lines in school parking lots, for hours waiting for Chromebooks.
Earlier in the week Frederick County Public Schools, informed parents via Find Out First notices, to come to their child’s school between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on March 27 to pick up their student’s Chromebook.
Not only did some parents wait in line for hours, but they waited in line for hours to end up being told FCPS had run out.
Adding to the frustration of leaving empty-handed, was the fact most of these parents were asked to notify the school if their child had a need for a device. If they did, the inference was, their name would be put on a list and a device would be waiting for them on the date of the pickup.
Roll back the calendar to March 25, 2020 and you will see a video from Superintendent Theresa Alban on FCPS’ Facebook page reassuring parents. She said that “continuity of instruction” was under control. She reported FCPS had been planning, instructing, providing professional development and creating digital resources for five years.
When questioned Dr. Alban said FCPS has 1:1 devices for middle and high schools but are 1:3 in elementary grades three through five.
I know for a fact FCPS teachers were ready to go on March 13, with three weeks of lessons IN HAND and ready to go out the door with the students. No internet required.
Per boots on the ground teachers, they had task forces in each school who knew what each student’s need was. The teachers and principals have relationships with their student populations. They “know” their students. The professionals in the buildings had this. What happened? Who stepped in between true “continuity of instruction” and students?
A March 23, 2020 Notice from the Frederick County Board of Education gives the public some insight.
The first two priorities in their notice:
“First, we directed the Superintendent and her staff to design and deploy safe and flexible feeding options available to as many communities in Frederick County as possible. FCPS staff are tracking data and adjusting locations based on participation and community feedback, but we are pleased that we have served over 4,000 meals in the first week.”
“Second, as the largest single employer in Frederick County, the Board is committed to safeguarding the economic well-being of both salaried and non-salaried personnel during these difficult times. FCPS teachers, bus drivers, instructional assistants, interpreters, community liaisons, and food service workers are vital members of our school system—and they are our friends and neighbors. The Board directed the Superintendent to define options to ensure that benefitted 10 or 11 month staff would be paid during a temporary or extended school closure period.”
The first objective: Offer food to the community. The second objective: Have Dr. Alban give options on how to make sure teachers will get paid during this forced closure.
Clues as to why 3 weeks of lessons weren’t allowed out the door with your children on March 13: “Over the last week, the Board has partnered with union leadership for support employees to finalize an agreement to ensure continuation of compensation and to outline expectations for modified job duties.”
If you believe the first priority of public education is to serve the needy, this notice probably sets well with you. If you believe the first priority of public education is to serve a classical, liberal education, then this notice probably does not set well with you.
Do you see a disconnect between what parents and teachers want their schools to be responsible for and what administrators and elected board members believe it’s responsible for?
Do the priorities of this Board of Education and Superintendent’s align with your priorities and what you believe your tax dollars should be spent on?
What happened to prevent three weeks of “continuity of instruction” from going home with our children on March 13, 2020? Teachers HAD this.