U.S. Department of Education

Here we go again, another attack on schoolteachers.

When educators dared to stand up for appropriate working and learning conditions, somehow that was recently termed “nefarious back door deals” on this page.

Ridiculous. Educators were working on better teaching and learning conditions as early as January 19, raised the issues at a public hearing in March, and legislators publicly discussed the issues on the floor of the House and Senate. We are interested in facts, not in distorting real issues.

Unfortunately, there are anti-public school extremists peddling misinformation to promote a bad idea called “dual instruction.”

What is dual instruction? It’s asking a single teacher to teach a classroom of school children online and in-person at the same time. It’s the kind of fractured instruction that makes school ineffective, especially for students with significant needs, and English learners. As Education Committee Co-Chair, Sen. Douglas McCrory, said on the Senate floor when this bipartisan bill was discussed, “It doesn’t work, folks.” McCrory, who is an educator by career, said, “I couldn’t serve two masters. I can’t service the children in front of me and at the same time provide a quality education for those at home.

He’s right. Imagine this -–you are teaching a classroom of children, some of whom need individual help, one who is off-task, and one who needs a bathroom pass. Meanwhile, two online children are having login problems, one forgot to mute while his dog barks, and three have their video off. Result: No one learns.

So why do some extremists push this bad idea? Money. Their pretzel-logic is to jam as many students into a classroom as possible, jam in more online, and squeeze public school budgets dry. They know this doesn’t help students learn; they should know it does harm. And who benefits? The wealthy few who seek to squeeze public dollars out of schools and into privatized hands. Then they criticize the teachers union when we do our job to protect educators, public schools, and the learning process. Bad practice should be prohibited, and I guess some are offended when legislators listen to the educators who are on the front lines.

This is not to suggest that remote instruction, when not split and fractured with live instruction at the same time, cannot provide some benefits. I serve on the Remote Learning Commission exploring the best practices with leaders from all over the state, including superintendents and board of education members. We agree that failed aspects, like dual instruction, must cease, and we should instead support student learning by using technology in a sophisticated and thoughtful manner. Dual instruction does not meet this standard.

Educators learned a lot about remote instruction during the pandemic. It was truly an experiment for teachers and schoolchildren. Dual instruction left children disengaged, especially children with limited English skills and children from lower-income communities. And you can take my word for it, because unlike the armchair pundits who posture and play politics with education, I actually taught in a dual instruction model and know firsthand it was not effective.

Let’s let real experience and expertise be our guide, not rhetoric.

Kate Dias is President of the Connecticut Education Association.