Sunday, February 23, 2020
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Some Chicago students take art, PE online

File this one in the “beyond belief” category. CBS 2 Chicago reports that students in Chicago’s public schools may have to take art and physical education classes online. In fact, some students have been taking those classes online for five years, according to school officials cited in the report.

The big concern in the article, which follows the school district’s laying off of more than a thousand teachers, is that “in the wake of massive job cuts … some parents and teachers are … concerned expanding online could leave even more teachers out of a job.”

The TV station didn’t address how many students or schools could be affected—or were already taking art and PE online—but I would like to know. The report did say that about 60 schools are already offering some classes online and that Chicago schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett was willing to consider the idea of offering PE and art online.

But veteran teachers generally think it would be impossible to teach PE and art online. “Kids need hands-on experiences,” the station quoted one laid-off art teacher as saying. “Especially with gym — that’s ridiculous.”

Here’s how it works:

  • Art: email or scan the artwork to a state-certified “virtual teacher”
  • PE: work with a mentor and complete a “fitness log”

“It’s the way in which blended learning and teaching is going for the 21st century across the country,” Ms Byrd-Bennett was quoted as saying.

In my view, some courses could be taught entirely online, and others cannot be taught, even a little bit, online. Schools need to figure out the difference and do the best they can for the students they serve, within financial and other constraints.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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