In Early May, Chicago Public schools sent out an email to parents stating that “Data highlights that majority of students are engaged in digital remote learning.” A few weeks later, the Chicago Sun-Times says, “Four in 10 CPS students take part in online learning two days a week or fewer, new data shows”. The Chicago Defender interviewed a few Chicago Public School teachers to get their real accounts on e-learning participation and why they thought students were not participating.
Monica Morrow, who teaches PreK four-year-old’s at Frances McKay Elementary on the southwest side of Chicago, has eighteen students in her class who are required to get online for one hour a day. Nine students are logging on, and Tuesday through Friday are the most active days.
Morrow says, “PreK students need parents to assist them with logging on. Four of the nine parents that are not logging on are essential workers, and the students are home with grandparents or other relatives.”
A kindergarten teacher on the southside of Chicago states that, on average, she has five to seven students logging on. Malfunctioning tech was an issue for her class, but the log-in numbers were still the same when the problem was corrected.
“I think MAYBE some parents forget (although reminders go out OFTEN) while others maybe don’t want to be bothered with helping their child log on. There are also a FEW whose parents are still working (from home or otherwise) and do not have anyone to help their child log on.”
For older children, who are capable of logging on themselves, numbers seemed low as well but with a different issue.
Tiffany Doss, who teaches eighth grade at Gregory, a school on the westside, has ten students in her class, and they log on twice a week. Doss says she has four students on most days logging on, and bi-weekly she can sometimes get seven students. When asked why she believes students are not participating, she says, “Because they are aware that they will be promoted.”
Beverly Harris, who has students in grades nine through twelfth at Carver Military Academy on the South Side, says about 20-25% of her 115 students are participating in e-learning scheduled to meet only twice a week.
“Students were oversleeping and did not want to do any schoolwork.”
Knowing about automatic promotions for students seemed to be the main reason why these teachers think students and parents were not participating in e-learning.
A PreK teacher states, “CPS announced very early that students would not be penalized. All students would be promoted. Wrong message, in my opinion. Even if the statement would be true, that should have been something just the administrators and teachers knew.” She also says,
“Most PreK parents do not take the early academic program seriously. They do not see the benefits. In Illinois, students are not required to go to school until they are six years old. These same parents do not know the benefit of logging on/attending a virtual class for 1 hour. They do not complete any of the daily assignments that are also provided. I have incorporated Artsy Thursday and Virtual Field Trip Fridays. I text, call, email, and send all parents messages weekly. The parents that are essential workers I understand. There are still five parents that have not participated or responded at all.”
A teacher of older students on the southside references parent accountability as well,
“Parent accountability/Parents were allowing students to stay up late, not making them wake up and meet with their teachers, and not holding their children responsible for doing the assignments. It was a slippery slope/hot mess. Most students & parents want something for nothing”.
Christa Carter-Williams is a party and family writer and creator of thewilliamsparty.com. Connect with her over on Instagram @thewilliamsparty