Give Money to ASD Parents So They Can Effectively Educate Children this Year
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On July 30th, the Anchorage School District (ASD) notified parents the COVID risk level was too high to reopen schools for the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year. ASD states that it is prioritizing school and community safety.
We are parents with kids in ASD schools who also prioritize the safety of our schools and communities. But, as a result of ASD's decision, we all have unexpectedly become "homeschool parents" right before school is scheduled to begin, even if we aren't able to be homeschool parents, missed the open period for the homeschool lotteries, or don't have the resources to effectively educate our children.
We need help to adequately serve as our kids' teachers because:
• We work full-time during the day;
• We are unemployed and looking for work;
• We have kids with unique or special needs;
• We are teachers who have to provide digital instruction to other ASD students during the day; or
• We do not understand the complexity of the material our children are learning.
Our reality as parents is that all ASD local schools have become like "homeschools," even though they're not designated as such by the district. Some of us have tried to enroll in Alaska homeschool options, but some are not accepting students or have long wait lists. We weren't given adequate notice to enroll our kids in time, and the Alaska homeschool programs are also under-resourced for this demand. While the ASD plan isn't the same as homeschooling, it is similar to the demands on a homeschooling parent.
The result for us parents is there is a significant burden on us to educate our kids for these reasons:
• ASD requires only 4 hours per *week* of online teaching from ASD teachers;
• We received remarkably disparate (and often inadequate) support and interaction from ASD teachers last quarter;
• We haven't seen a plan for how ASD will assess our student's learning progress, and we are increasingly concerned our kids are stagnating or regressing academically. This is unacceptable when Alaska already is among the lowest testing proficiency scores in the nation; and
• ASD engagement metrics showed an average of 25% of our students in 6th-12th grade didn't submit their online school work last quarter. That means we parents are critical to ensuring learning is completed and submitted.
We refuse to be complicit in the educational neglect of our children. We don't believe we have to choose EITHER to keep schools and the community safe OR to effectively educate children. We can partner with ASD in achieving both objectives, if we are adequately resourced to do so.
We did not ask for financial assistance last Spring. We understood the emergency situation ASD faced. ASD has had 5 months to develop a solution, however. If the solution is for children to learn at home, then the solution must involve resourcing parents to do the job. We aren’t trained to be teachers. We did not choose homeschooling for a reason. We have been forced into homeschooling and we are expected to do the same work as homeschool parents in Alaska homeschool partnerships, but we haven’t been given the student allotment they receive. It’s not fair to our children.
Since local schools have unexpectedly been converted into "homeschool hubs," placing the greater burden of teaching on us parents, we petition ASD to provide us the homeschool allotment amount for each of our ASD enrolled students: $2000/elementary and $2,400/high school student. We believe these funds can come from over $100 Million non-instructional operational expenses that are not being used to run school buildings that currently are shutdown. This will help us to provide the educational resources we need, such as:
• Special needs providers;
• Tutors or assistants; and
• Supplemental or substitutional educational materials.
We are not requesting government handouts without accountability. This allotment would follow the same processes and procedures already in place for those parents in homeschool programs: ASD parents would submit receipts or invoices for reimbursements for authorized expenses, up to the total of the allotment. Not all families would need the full allotment, or the allotment at all. But those families who need supplemental assistance would have access to it.
Will you help Alaska's kids learn at home this Fall? Sign now!
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