Carter in the classroom

Leaders Share Changes Schools Will See & Hope to See After Pandemic

Beyond The Mask is a series of stories devoted to asking leaders to share plans to help children achieve academic success

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It's pretty clear everyone agrees our schools need to be full again, not just with kids, but with plans for success.

"The way out is not through remediation it's through acceleration," said Kent Scriber, Superintendent of Fort Worth ISD.

"This is what we gotta do, things are urgent, our hair needs to be on fire right now," said Michael Hinojosa, Superintendent of Dallas ISD.

Changes are coming to Texas schools.... everything from Wi-Fi access at home, to more time in front of teachers.

"Federal dollars are allowing us to offer 14 full days of instruction, that's almost 3 weeks of additional instruction in specific areas of need, a longer school day and a longer school year," said Scribner.

The feds say the money will not just pay for class but must attack the families in poverty.

"There's been a lot of us politicizing of the pandemic, so we now have to adjust that, and remind folks that this is not a red and blue issue, it's an issue across our country," said Miguel Cardona the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Texas leaders say we have to listen to those in the classroom.

"I feel like we were stuck in the 18th century in education, simple things even if just recording my lesson and posting on YouTube like I did this past year, we're continuing that," said Yonthan Tedesse, teacher at Dallas ISD.

"We need more resources, less focus on your grades and GPA but more of what you're doing personally. I think it will play a huge role," said Madison Metcalf, student at LD Bell High School.

The ball is already in motion.

"These kinds of changes are afoot and schools are making these modifications all over the state of Texas for the benefit of our kids," said Morath. "To focus on our neediest schools to wrap our arms around the schools that need the most support."

But is it enough? Big enough to not just bring us back to where we were, but to bring us to the best like we are with so many other qualities of life.

"If you're going to barely fix something, when are you going to get there, sometimes you have to do something bold and that's what the pandemics' forcing us to do," said Hinojosa.

It will mean more technical programs that kids love. 

"More programs that focus on the future and open doors we don't think about," said Ernesto Sandate, student at LD Bell High School.

"We need to equip our students with the licenses, the certifications, that will prepare them for success beyond high school, and finding ways to help both teachers and students cope with the stress of it all," said Scribner.

"We also have to do something about this teacher shortage. We have to do something," said Kim Anderson, Executive Director, National Education Association.

Educators agree it's a lot! And there is not one pill to solve the problem.

"I don't know that we're ready to dig out of it yet. I think we're still assessing where kids are at," said Randy Belcher, Principal, HEB ISD

While that may be the most truth we've heard...  there's also the fact that we can't sit around and wait for long.

"We have to make the most of this moment, I wish we didn't have the pandemic but we are where we are," said Cardona. "We have the opportunity to hit the reset button on so many things that didn't work in education. Shame on us if we don't take advantage of that."

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