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Second Open Letter to the Bladen County Board of Education

Wondering how many folks tuned into the Board of Education meeting on July 23, 2020…

I’d like to start by thanking Dennis Edwards and Cory Singletary for their NO vote on this virtual-only learning plan. Interestingly, one of the two no votes is ready to send his child back to school; the other is not ready to send his child back to school. Would the rest of the board work with these two folks to find a way to give parents and students the option? No… I thought they would, I was wrong.

I listened, wishing that we could comment on the happenings as a parent and concerned citizen. We were given the opportunity to send in comments to be read aloud to the board by Ms. Valerie Newton. She did a nice job reading the comments. All comments appeared to have the same theme, as did the majority of the surveys submitted. It is time for our children to go back to school; you know, the brick and mortar building is typically centrally located in our communities.

Following the comments, Dr. Taylor read a heartfelt statement. He then explained how many busses we would need to get all students to school and how much more space would be required… I suppose he assumes that all students would like to return now or that they must all attend every day. I thought that giving parents a choice may very well take care of the social distancing problem. I’m sure some folks would like to use virtual learning for a while. Would parents and students be given a choice? No – Dr. Taylor then made a recommendation that we abandon all in-person learning and move to 100% virtual learning.

To confirm – all students will be attending virtually, but there is hope because…

“The quality of remote instruction must match being face to face learning, according to Dr. Atkinson. Attendance must be documented, as well.”

That’s exciting; maybe we no longer need the brick and mortar at all. What a savings that would be… Wait, this was soon followed by…

Mrs. Cheryl White-Smith, “We are working on a plan. There is nothing like face to face learning, but we are working with Dr. Atkinson with the general curriculum to create a plan for our teachers to be more effective with remote learning.”

Confused? Me too! Folks, we are losing our choice on so many things right now due to pandemics and politics… Are we really going to settle for virtual learning while we “create a plan for our teachers to be more effective with remote learning”?

Let’s ask the teachers… Supposedly, there has been a Board survey sent to the teachers. Has anyone in the public seen the results of this survey? BladenOnline staff has said they have asked for a copy of the survey multiple times, but not received a copy of the teacher and staff survey report yet. I wonder if the Board of Education members have seen the teacher’s survey report.

There were several teacher comments read aloud last evening, and it appeared they all had the same theme. Let’s get back in the classroom and teach these kids. I would like to thank those teachers for having the courage to speak up at this time. Teachers, please continue to join in this conversation. Do you wish to teach to an empty classroom? Is there any chance that – “The quality of remote instruction (will) match being face to face learning”?  

The CDC has released an article titled, “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall.” I wonder if the Board of Education members or Bladen County Schools employees have read this article?

I was one of the many who sent comments to the board. Here was the closing of my comments….

This is not a time for complacency or for settling. It’s time to lead; let’s make a statement that our children’s education is on the top of our priority list… let’s have a meeting, in person. It’s time to stop hiding behind screens and to stop being fearful! There is a way to get our kids back to school… Will you commit to finding the answer to best educate our students, or will you wait for more political action? Please put our children first and let the parents be involved…

In my opinion, the board of education replied last week with a firm NO – we will not put the education of this county’s children on the top of our priority list; it requires too many busses and too much space. We just can’t figure out a way around that….

Frustrated….

Daine Smith

Related articles:

Bladen County Schools Will Provide Remote Learning Until September

Plan to begin the 2020-2021 school year for students

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