Good Intentions Gone Awry

Here I sit in an empty classroom: after administrators listened to meteorological reports last night, they decided to make instruction virtual. I appreciate that administrators prioritize safety over quality of instruction. However, it sometimes feels like we’ve slipped down the slippery slope of weather-born silliness. We’re not talking about staying in Gulfport for a category five hurricane. We’re talking about staying away from Hooper because there’s a chance of strong weather. It rains. People get wet on the way to campus and class. If there’s a tornado, we have safe places to go while we’re here.

On the upside: it isn’t like classes have been canceled while they’re taking place. That’s good!

I suppose I am revealing an old and curmudgeonly side, but I have grown so weary of virtual instruction that I would happily drive through weather of all sorts to teach in classrooms of actual (rather than virtual) students.

Another good intention: yesterday, Gov. Reeves signed into law House Bill 633, which requires the state Department of Education to include computer science in its college and career readiness curriculum. That’s a lovely idea. However, the reality is that very few people who qualified to teach computer science will be in Mississippi classrooms. Instead we’ll have coaches throwing powerpoints on the screen and calling it instruction in computer science.

We can’t really blame coaches–or any other teachers–for being asked to teach content they don’t know. The broader issue involves the divergent expectations that parents, schools, and legislators have for the children they want to educate.

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10 Responses to Good Intentions Gone Awry

  1. Zuyi Li says:

    I agree with Dr. Easterling. Students should still be able to attend class even there is a possible strong storm. The majority of us have lived in the South for most of our lives, storms are part of our life. Classes should be able to be adjusted base on the teacher’s internet connection. If some teachers are having internet issues, they can just let that class know they will be virtual or the class is canceled, instead of making the whole school virtual.
    For the second part, I understand computer science will be the future, technology is in everything we use today. However, with the state our state is in, making computer science a requirement is a waste of time. Without a proper instructor, students will lose interest very quickly. Let’s just say Gulfport High School, I took a computer science course in 9th grade. When I was in the class, the teacher just assigns reading assignments and expect students to be able to learn by themselves. This year I talk to one of my old friends from Gulfport High, there is now an AP course in computer science offered at Gulfport High. The problem is that he told me the teacher is learning with the students. When he asked the teacher questions, the teacher always said “I will get back to you later.” In Mississippi, not all school has the quality of teaching like MSMS. Instead of spending money on something that is a complete waste of time, why not allocate money to something that will be more meaningful and create a bigger impact. I remember Dr. Easterling said he has a list full of things that can be improved.

  2. Chingun Tsogt-Erdene says:

    I agree and disagree with Dr. Easterling. I understand and agree that students should attend in-person classes even if there is a possible chance for a strong storm. Campus is safe and there are a lot of shelters and safe spots to go in if a tornado happens to occur. However, is it really worth the risk? Although there is a small chance that a student or a teacher could get hurt from traveling to or from Hooper, why risk it? I think the school is just doing its part to avoid any risks for the students and staff. Although there are two sides to this, I believe it should be the teacher’s choice.

    For the second part, having computer science required in curriculums is a good step in the future. That is because computer science is the future and many should learn how to code. New jobs are being creating because of this. Although it is a good step, it seems to have a downside that not many people are suited enough to teach computer science. I think that all schools should be required to teach computer science if they have the instructor available. By having a person not qualified to teach, why waste time doing so? There are so many better things to do with that time.

  3. Courtenay Sebastian says:

    Oh my gosh, I totally agree with you Dr. E. I have not seen any bad weather come from these ” potentially” hazardous weather conditions. I think its dumb, however I do understand if we have students or faculty who lose internet or power.

    To touch on the computer science topic, I agree. However there are great computer science programs online, and I think, even if its just a Microsoft office and social media class, I think it would be useful.

  4. Khushi Patel says:

    I agree with Dr. Easterling. Administrators should not make the school virtual because of a strong storm. It should be decided by each teacher if they want to have class or not or make it virtual especially because we live on campus and do not have to drive anywhere. If there is a power outage or the Wi-Fi is not working, then it makes sense for them to cancel classes for that day.

    For the mandatory computer science class, I both support and do not support it just like Zuyi. A good reason why I support it is that ever since COVID, we have been using technology a lot more and this will be our future. It is like everyday use. However, this is only useful with proper instructions taught in school. I do agree that if coaches, who most likely would not know anything about it, are teaching those classes, then it is like they are doing it with no meaning. That is just wasting everyone’s time. It also a waste of money. If the state wants to do this, it should do it the right way. They should also make sure that there is a teacher who is qualified to teach computer science to make it beneficial to students.

  5. Rice Guigley says:

    In the manner of missing school for weather, the students would lived on the doors still had to go outside and walk to get their meals. They were still able to do that safely, so why is going to class any different? I prefer in-person over virtual, so that’s why I would not mind walking through the rain to get to class. I did that at my homeschool pre-COVID because it did not affect anything to a major extent. The worse thing that would happen is they would cancel marching band practice or football practice if the fields were too muddy. The only times I agreed with the school’s decision to cancel class due to weather was when the state had massive power outages, and that affected everyone regardless of in-person school or not.

    While I understand the state’s reasoning to enforce a computer class, I would like to say that if Mississippi really wants that, they should put the funding into it to make sure that it is a computer science class and not some class kids take to get a free block. Deciding what to teach kids and how to teach kids is already a big enough debate in itself. Each school in Mississippi has different resources and different teachers. I see it as the state telling the school to do something without giving the stuff to do it like putting a person in an empty lot with nothing and asking them to build a house. It just will not end well. They overestimate what the schools and teachers can do. Mississippi wants so much from its teachers, but it gives them so little. If they seriously want this done, they should stop cutting funding and do something to make sure it happens.

  6. Maddie Flowers says:

    I completely agree with you, Dr. E. Because of COVID, the face-to-face time I’ve gotten to spend with my teachers this year was minimal. I feel like there are always warnings for “unpleasant weather,” and the day goes by with absolutely nothing happening. I understand it’s better to put our safety first and not risk putting us into the hands of potential danger. However, we are young adults who can stand a little rain walking around campus.

    Regarding the latter topic, you couldn’t have made your point any better. Let’s face it; technology is our future. Technological advancements are occurring rapidly on a day-to-day basis. The younger generation needs to be educated on things such as computer science because we very well could end up in a strictly computer-based society soon. However, hiring inadequate teachers who do not give student engagement completely defeats the purpose. Furthermore, do not knock down the coaches who aren’t qualified to teach the subject. They are simply doing a job they were requested to do. Colleges must hire instructors knowledgeable in the field to ensure students are receiving adequate information on the subject.

  7. Gracie Rowland says:

    I think it’s pretty ridiculous to cancel school over some non-severe weather. Rain jackets and rain coats can be styled so wonderfully, and rain brings a sort of warm nostalgia to everyone’s hearts anyways. Plus, there’s a certain kind of nirvana that accompanies spinning on a concrete soaked street with an umbrella in hand; you feel like the star of your very own “Singing in the Rain”.

    The mandatory computer science classes are a pragmatic and sensible idea, and I applaud Governor Reeves for making such a move. However, it is true that Mississippi public education is falling apart, our funding priorities are warped to hell, and our legislators are incompetent and too seemingly stupid to fix our broken school system.

    At the end of the day, everything comes down to money. It’s sad, but true. MS schools need more funding, and we need it now. It may not fix all of our problems, but having the money to make fundamental changes to our school system could sure solve a lot of them.

  8. Mackenzie Knighten says:

    After reading Dr. Easterling’s comments about the school’s response to bad weather, I can say I reluctantly agree with his stance on the situation and I say reluctantly because I like a day in the bed as much as the next person. However, as a student that has been struggling my entire junior due to virtual learning, we can not afford to miss days where we have face to face instruction. Furthermore, school has a tendency of canceling school for “terrible” weather that never gets terrible. There have been times when I’ve been at schooled and the weather was terrible, but we survived. If you ask me, those are some of the best memories you can make at school. The rush we get when that first lighting strikes and the lights turn out for a millisecond, I love it.

    In regards to Dr. Easterling’s stance on computer science being incorporated to the school’s curriculum, I completely agree. Coming from a school district that places substitutes in a classroom for months at a time because they can’t find a suitable teacher that can teach the criteria. It wastes my time and it wastes the substitute’s time. When schools are put into positions like this, it also creates an uncaring attitude in the students. When we see that no effort is being put into teaching the subject, most students don’t bother to cooperate because what is the point. I feel that if Reeves wants to make a move like this then he also needs to make sure schools have the necessary and materials needed to educate the students correctly.

  9. Nina Patel says:

    I agree with Dr. E. I think we should still attend class with a storm coming. There have been many times when we still go to school even though there has been an intense storm. However, it is a good option that we class can still go on when a storm hits. I know that we can still attend school when there is a storm because there have been many times when we go to school even though there has been a risk for a tornado, and we still come out just fine.

    For the second part, having a computer science course is an excellent step because it is fundamental to learn how to code. I think the school district should take their time with finding an instructor other than just wasting it. I remember I took computer science in 10th grade, and it was the worst class I have ever taken. The teacher did not know what she was doing, and she would assign assignments and expect us to understand how to code. I think it’s good to enforce a computer science class, but if the school district is not going to put in a reasonable effort, it doesn’t matter.

  10. Mikayla Jones says:

    I think we should still attend class in person if there is a storm coming. We are perfectly capable of walking in the rain. However, if a storm is getting extra close or the weather gets too bad I think we should be able to go back to the dorms. At least we can still have zoom class. At my home school, classes are completely canceled when bad weather comes, so at least teachers still have the opportunity to teach. As bad as zoom class is, it is not as bad as having to stay safe in a classroom during a tornado. I feel like admin is more willing to give us “bad weather days” because they know we don’t have to completely cancel classes. But, as Mackenzie said, we need as many face-to-face class days as possible, and they should consider that. We should only have bad weather days if the weather is actually bad.

    On the second part, I completely agree. At my homeschool, they always allowed coaches to teach computer science classes. From the powerlifting/ football coach to the softball coach its always some kind of coach. The powerlifting/football coach did alright but maybe he was just that one good apple. It’s a waste of time if you’re not going to learn anything of substance. I know it’s not their fault because they aren’t completely qualified to teach the course and the schools still asked them to. However, I am sick and tired of having to play scratch and nitro type every year and not learning anything of substance. We just coast through the course and get a free credit. If Reeves wants these courses, he needs to find the teachers completely qualified to teach them.

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