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State dropped ball

To the Journal editor:

My wife and I are concerned parents in a somewhat unique position of having a kindergartner and graduating senior this year.

There will be an announcement that the governor will make this week regarding an executive order, which includes closing out the school year. All students will just move a grade up and seniors will graduate. This isn’t a plan.

I get this crisis has put most of life’s activities on hold and for our government and health care providers that this is an all-hands-on deck effort, but coming up with a plan or some flexible framework should be expected.

Why doesn’t Michigan have a contingency plan for the COVID-19 crisis like other states (including) Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina and Wisconsin. All these states have educational plans, published and accessible on-line and schools deliver material packets for students. If students lack Internet access or systems to access the on-line learning, free access and/or Google Chromebooks are provided.

I know some K-12 teachers, as well as administrators that are chomping at the bit to put their own plans or Google Classrooms into action. Know there’s a concern about not being able to reach one-hundred percent of the student population because of accessibility, or not being able to reach students with special needs, but they have to start somewhere.

They should be worried whether the educational content is relevant or interesting enough to engage students. That should be their concern beyond making sure everyone has access. Access alone is a technological obstacle and functionality is no guarantee, nor are the learning platforms. They are probably not provisioned highly enough to accommodate everyone.

What an exceptional opportunity to rapid prototype a system. This generation of students are already conditioned to exploit it. Ultimately, we may arrive at a solution and the process to mitigate other types of disaster in the future.

Our state leader should lean on our state’s education chairman, Dr. Rice, to expedite a plan, or work fast to follow another state’s lead. They haven’t had a meeting since Jan. 14.

This is a failure of the Department of Education or of the governor’s ability to delegate and demand a real plan. This isn’t acceptable. Our children should not be left behind those in neighboring states, or anywhere else for that matter.

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