Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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Student news roundup, Maryland, Sept. 16

Most schools in Maryland started on September 8, and half or most of all education has been taking place virtually. With that, student newspapers have been slow to start writing across the state, but we do have a few bits of news to relay this week.

MCPS to give students the MAP tests

Montgomery County Public Schools serves about 160,000 students and will administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test to all of them over the next few weeks, reports Zoe Cantor in The Black & White, the student newspaper at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda. The tests are being given to fulfill requirements from the state that all students take a “diagnostic” test this fall in order to gauge student learning loss during the pandemic and step up efforts to address that where needed. Other school districts in the state might use a different test, but for high school students in Montgomery County, the test will come in two parts: literacy and math. “It feels unnecessary,” the paper quoted one senior as saying about the MAP. “Students have a lot on their plates these days.”

Questionable but hopeful start to the school year

Writing from Kenwood High School in Essex, where Baltimore County Public Schools began a hybrid model for learning beginning on Day 1, the staff from The Eye of the Bluebird confronts a dilemma: Is it even safe to be in the school building? Yet teachers are optimistic and say learning about new education technology resources has been one good side of the pandemic. Still, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. School is where many students interact socially, and they miss that loss of personal connection. “I would rather be in the building as the presence of my teachers pushes me to pay attention and do better,” one senior was quoted as saying.

And at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, Trinity Goppy and Angel Benjamin write a letter to the Class of 2021 in The Mainstream, saying:

While we continue to survive this global issue, we celebrate that the Black Lives Matter protests have been active and thriving for almost 6 months, all while keeping our eyes on important moments such as deadlines for college applications and scholarships coming up all too soon. Of course, all of this is surrounded by the fact that there is a quarantine that has limited any chance of making moves and seeing friends and family with the threat of the virus at almost any corner. This is why we must stay together. … It is important to see the light in all of the darkness and make the best of our situations. This is especially true for seniors who are transitioning from one part of their lives into a very important other part: young adulthood.

What the pandemic tells us about US healthcare

With a touching story about an aunt who was laid off during the beginning months of the pandemic, Ceilidh Kern at John F Kennedy High School in Silver Spring underscores some of the gaps in our approach to healthcare Covid-19 has revealed in The New Frontier: “Many Americans have supported private health insurance because the narrative that has dominated coverage of the subject is that if Americans are working and supporting the economy, their healthcare is covered. However, the coronavirus has highlighted the fatal flaw in this belief: Americans can be willing to⁠ work⁠—even desperate—but unable to in an economy so devastated that there is no work to be found.”

  • An analysis by Capital & Main says that the number of uninsured Americans between the beginning of Donald Trump’s term and the pandemic in March had already increased by 2.3 million. The state of Maryland was one of a handful of states where the number of uninsured residents actually went down in that period, but several battleground states have had significant increases: Florida (240,000), Arizona (128,000), North Carolina (119,000), Texas (689,000), and Ohio (114,000).

Jewish day school has some success with distance learning

Finally, one new freshman, who had attended private schools through eighth grade but wanted to switch to the public school system for high school, encountered the new way of doing school in a pandemic and changed everything about her decision process, writes Ella Waldman at the Charles E Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville in The Lion’s Tale student newspaper. “We reconsidered my different options and thought, my cousins go to JDS, and they told us that the online stuff was amazing, and they handled it really well,” she quoted the freshman as saying. “We decided that it would definitely be better for me to be in a different environment where they’re going to make sure you’re getting your work done, you’re having extra help, and stuff like that.”

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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