NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – “Our children are losing so much ground. And they only get one shot at an education,” says Sonya Thomas, Executive Director of Nashville PROPEL.
The mother of a high school senior and 8th grader says she sees the pandemic hurting all students, especially black and brown families in low performing schools.
“We know that our children were already behind before the pandemic and the last school year. It didn’t offer anything to our children and so we know that we’ve been getting subpar virtual learning during the fall and it hasn’t gotten any better,” says Thomas.
There are many parents like her. Ashley Howerton also has two kids in school, a kindergartner and 3rd graders, and she says the new state estimates are sad but not surprising news since the kids have been out since March.
“As the parent I see it every day,” says Howerton.
To refresh your memory, State Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced Wednesday that preliminary estimates show high learning loss with students of the classroom since March. A 50% deficiency in reading at the third grade level and a 65% deficiency in math at that same level.
Howerton commenting, “Both my boys did take a reading and math assessment. I’m not exactly sure how those are going to be used. They were very difficult. I mean obviously both of them were on the computers. A kindergartner having a reading assessment over a computer was not something he could really do. I had to obviously read through it question by question, and math questions for fractions that mean nothing to him so it was an assessment. I’m not sure it was very good and I know there was a lot of kids taking it that I talk to who were crying, because they didn’t know the stuff. So they did something.”
She says even in the best case scenario where her kids are in pods, “I feel we are really lucky that I know my boys, they will be ok, we can work together and figure out where holes are if they are missing things. I don’t feel that’s the same for a lot of Metro students. Which is a concern. You know it’s not just about my kids it’s about the 80,000 kids.”
Mom Nicole Corey believes this won’t only take a toll on the students but also on the teachers to figure out where each child is. “I feel sorry for these teachers next year or when they go back. They are not going to be where they are supposed to be. And so these teachers are going to have to figure each kid out and I think the discrepancy is going to be even larger than it is on a normal year.”
Besides advocating for getting back in the classroom, Sonya Thomas would like to see the one-size-fits all approach shift to an individualized plan. Comparing going to a classroom with a teacher like going to the doctors.
“When we are ill and we have things that are happening to us as far as our health, we go to the doctor and we’re assessed. We’re not just given a prescription, we’re assessed, we’re diagnosed and then a plan of care is put in place. And so we’re asking for the same thing to happen for all children in the district to recover their learning loss.”
Metro Schools surveyed parents on returning to school. 54% of parents were in favor of returning to in-person classes with nearly 75% of parents responding.