Thursday, May 14, 2020

MDE: Connect All Students

The Mississippi Department of Education issued the following statement.
Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, testified before the Mississippi Senate Education Committee today, outlining the Mississippi Department of Education’s (MDE) plan to connect all Mississippi children to the internet so schools can deliver high-quality instruction digitally.


"The COVID-19 public health crisis that caused statewide school closures has amplified the inequities that our students live with,” Wright said. “Children with no access to computers or the internet at home have been put at a great disadvantage when schools shifted to distance learning.”

MDE’s plan aims to bring equity to education by putting a device in the hands of every student who needs one, ensuring students have internet access at home, training teachers how to teach remotely, and providing districts with a choice of high-quality options for a digital curriculum and an online system to deliver it.

“We have a moral imperative to ensure that every child in Mississippi has an equal opportunity and learn, whether they are at school or at home,” Wright said.

Mississippi is receiving $1.25 billion in COVID-19 relief funds. The MDE seeks to use $250 million of those funds for equipment, licenses and professional development.

The plan would need an additional $100 million a year for the next two years for license renewals, professional development and refreshing equipment.

Districts have been allocated over $160 million in federal education funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to support student learning, though those funds are not sufficient to address their technology needs.

The percentage of Mississippi households that don’t have a computer device ranges from 44% in Greenwood to 8% in Oxford, according to the U.S. Census and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Statewide, 32% of households do not have broadband.

MDE's multi-year solution would close the gaps in Mississippi’s broadband coverage by providing hotspots to homes that don’t have high-speed internet.

“This is 2020. Every child should have access to a device and high-quality instructional materials,” Wright said.

The MDE has been working with national experts to develop its digital learning plan and has sought support for it from the Mississippi Alliance for Nonprofits and Philanthropy and national education groups. 

Wright told lawmakers about the advantages of equipping students with technology, whether they are learning at home or in school. The technology would provide tools for home use to reach English Learners and to meet the sensory needs of students with disabilities. It could also help alleviate the teacher shortage by enabling highly qualified teachers to teach students in different parts of the state remotely.

"There has never been a better opportunity for the state to address the inequities that exist among our students,” Wright said. “A person’s education is life determining. It defines their future. This is a life-changing opportunity for the children of Mississippi.”

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

MDE always makes me think of Sam Hyde

Anonymous said...

It's a laudable goal in the abstract.

But as always in Mississippi, it will be executed, if at all, in the worst possible way: Got some money burning a hole in our pocket, so let's spend it fast with no coherent plan for how the things we're buying will be used.

Better yet, you can count on the MSGOP turning around in a few years and arguing that we should spend less on education because kids can just go watch Khan Academy courses on their iPads.

Anonymous said...

Just think of all the bed space the state will have if we do close schools for the next academic year. Convert the empty schools and they'd be perfect for Isolation cases throughout the state. Not trying to be extremely morbid, but could easily put crematoriums at each site as well. Completely burnt viruses are dead viruses. Would help alleviate some concerns from the closet cases. My friend thought this may be helpful. Said it worked overseas a while back,

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with the thought and purpose, but if the hotspots she's talking about are like the hotspots I pay for, how are they going to keep the kid's relatives from abusing it and costing the tax payers money by using up all the data?

Anonymous said...

It is almost inevitable some districts will close for a while in the Fall/Winter as a second wave hits. I'm supportive of buying devices and hotspot services for the kids in those circumstances to ensure they don't fall behind. But make no mistake, distance learning is not a replacement for classroom instruction for almost all of the K-12 experience. This needs to be an emergency backup for this unique situation, but it sounds like MDE wants to make it a permanent fixture. Where will the $100 million a year to maintain the system come from after the federal money runs out?

Anonymous said...

Who pays the ongoing internet line/wireless costs?
What about the districts that have already implemented this at their own cost thru bond issues/tax increases?

Anonymous said...

My question, if the schools do get closed down for the next academic years is, will our taxes be adjusted. If we are not using the schools systems, why do we have to pay for them? I understand that those of us with no kids in school pay for them through taxes, but if shuttered, why pay. Same question for automobile insurance, etc.

Anonymous said...

@2:47 I know CSpire has a government plan that provides unlimited data with the hotspot. We've got a number of them in our agency. I would imagine they would need to do something to ensure the parents or kids don't stream movies constantly and degrade the service for everyone, but as far as I know there isn't any cap on the government plan data and no additional charge above the basic monthly fee.

That said, the service absolutely sucks in a lot of rural areas. I don't see how it would be an effective solution to the lack of rural broadband. Even where it works, the signal strength is so low that the transmission speeds are well below 1 Mbps which won't be sufficient for distance learning.

Fire Carey Wright said...

How long has this woman been on the throne? Why hasn't she chirped about this for the past decade? Will all of her clamoring result in another contract with her buds in Maryland?

Anonymous said...

We also need a program that provides free telephones, housing cost assistance and free meals for all school children. Wait...

Anonymous said...

"Dr. Carey Wright said . . . putting an internet device in the hands of every student . . . "

I laugh every time she speaks.

This is only another MDE money grab.
Hell, many of the public school districts can't even prevent their lil' "scholars" from vandalizing a bathroom.

How many days will an individual (tax paid) internet access "device" survive in many of these kid's little hands ?


Anonymous said...

" Internet service absolutely sucks in a lot of rural areas. I don't see how it would be an effective solution to the lack of rural broadband. Even where it works, the signal strength is so low that the transmission speeds are well below 1 Mbps which won't be sufficient for distance learning. "

More proof this is yet another money grab by the Educational executives.
In the mean time, the teachers will still have buy their own classroom supplies.

Anonymous said...

Never let a crisis go to waste.

MDE now wants to implement distance learning statewide, just in case we need it again sometime in the future (before the technology they purchase goes out of date, as the ITS $20M facility did during its construction.) And Brandon Presley wants to put broadband statewide, even though it is not economically feasible, and it too will be out of date once 5G is fully implemented.

But hey - as long as the feds are paying for it, might as well stick one's thumbs in the pie and hope to pull out a plum.

For sure said...

Let me say first that I'm not that person. Having said that is there a way to find and hire someone that could think proactive instead of reactive?

Anonymous said...

So, to those against this, what are your ideas to educate almost 500,000 children, if this virus doesn't allow in person education. As a parent of 3 children, I'm really wondering how in the world to avoid a lack of learning.

Anonymous said...

" So, to those against this, what are your ideas to educate almost 500,000 children, if this virus doesn't allow in person education. As a parent of 3 children, I'm really wondering how in the world to avoid a lack of learning " .

Very simple.

Reopen the schools with the same guidelines as any other public "space" .

Anonymous said...

@4:58 - limit attendance to 20 and social distance? Ok.

Anonymous said...

" @4:58 - limit attendance to 20 and social distance? Ok."

Yep !
That's a great classroom model !

For the last thirty years, all I've heard is how great smaller classes are soooo much more effective .

Plus it's a hell of lot cheaper than replacing expensive "destroyed" laptops every few weeks.

And don't forget the ongoing cost of high speed internet service (that's not even available) in most of this state.

It's amazing to me that some people bow-down to emotions rather than honestly thinking about fiscal responsibility in the overall big picture.





Anonymous said...

@6:37 Yes, a classroom of 20 is desirable. Unfortunately, there are many classrooms in a school building. Then, there is the changing of classrooms for most grades other than K-2.
On the flip side, face to face instruction is much more effective. I'm concerned (but definitely not emotional) about logistics - we'll see...

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