LANSING, Mich. – The battle to provide education for all during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to become more and more complicated.
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State superintendent Dr. Michael Rice called on the state Legislature to extend the school year Tuesday for students to make up for the lost time.
The idea comes with several challenges, including getting teachers on board.
“This school year, in and of itself, can’t even last five minutes longer,” said Paula Herbart, the president of the Michigan Education Association. “We need a break. Educators need a break. Students need a break.”
It’s undeniable that the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years have exhausted teachers.
There’s a mammoth hill to climb in order to find a way to get students back 181 days of in-person education and caught up in a way that they can advance with core competencies.
Yes, teachers want to get back into the classroom, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have grave concerns.
“I would be remiss if I said that a lot of my union members are happy about coming back,” said Michael Mickens, a Pontiac teacher and union president.
In order to extend anything, terms need to be negotiated.
Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti said he can’t realistically extend the school year, but he can expand learning opportunities in every neighborhood.
Herbart said that it could be done, but they’d need to talk about contracts, remediating days and compensation.
“Educators across the board, support staff, they are spread as thin as they can be,” Herbart said.