Plain Talk: Education Professor Says North Dakota’s Push for Remote Education Has Been “Overly Bureaucratic,” Tells Parents Not to Worry About Kids Losing Ground

The normally crowded and bustling lobby of Moorhead Senior High School is empty and quiet during the shutdown Monday, March 16. W. Scott Olsen / Special to The Forum

Dan Conn is an Associate Professor of Teacher Education and Kinesiology at Minot State University.

In this episode of Plain Talk, he discusses the challenges related to mobilizing, as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, remote education solutions on the short timeline state leaders like Governor Doug Burgum and Superintendent Kirsten Baesler are asking for.

Currently, school districts have until April 1 to come up with a plan. Conn says this ask is “very taxing on teachers” and “may be unreasonable.”

“The worst thing schools could do is overcomplicate things,” he said, saying that many of the guidelines for remote education programs issued to school districts by Baesler’s office are “daunting” and “overly bureaucratic.”

He’d like to see a more uncomplicated focus on teachers using remote education tools to interact with students.

Conn believes parents worried about keeping their kids learning during times of social distancing and quarantine should focus on engagement more than anything else. “I wonder if it would make better sense for parents to teach children things they already know,” he said. Parents who know how to sew could teach that skill to their kids, for example.

“I think a lot of that is B.S.,” Conn said when asked about concerns with students losing education momentum during what could be an extended break. “In terms of education going backward, I don’t think it works that way,” he said.

Conn and some of his fellow educators have put together resources for parents on their website, RedandGreenSchool.org.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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