YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that children need face-to-face instruction. A disruption in that can have long-lasting consequences.
The teacher’s strike in Youngstown is now weeks-long. The loss of education and progression will be a challenge when classes resume.
Teacher strikes are meant to put pressure on district administrations, acknowledging there are consequences to keeping students out of the classroom. The longest teacher’s strike in U.S. history was in 1986 in Illinois and lasted 8 months. The second longest was in neighboring Portage County when Ravenna teachers went on strike in 1981 for 85 days.
According to OhioHistory.org, the 1970s and early 1980s saw a number of teacher strikes in Ohio, including one in Boardman. Media reports from those strikes reveal a divided community, long-term fallout and years of consequences for students. And over the past few years, there has been a resurgence.
An Urban Institute Review shows that teacher strikes have increased in recent years, with 497 strikes happening between 2017 and 2019. It said strikes took place in districts that were, on average, lower achieving than other districts.
Youngstown teachers have been on strike since Aug. 23. — 23 days as of this report.
Research from the Education Resources Information Center shows that students coming to school following the summer months already have lost some educational gains. Compound that with the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, catching up Youngstown City School students will be challenging.
There were lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, and schools are better able now to pivot to remote learning, but not without consequences. The pandemic has already cost students about one-third of a school year’s worth of knowledge and skills over the last three years, causing many to fall behind in math and reading. And for students in poorer districts, such as Youngstown, the impact was even more profound, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Chromebooks have been passed to Youngstown City Schools students so they can participate in online learning during the strike. YSCD spokesperson Stacy Quinones said that the remote learning that is happening now during the strike is meant to serve as an “enrichment opportunity to keep scholars engaged during the strike.”
She said there is a communication plan in place once the strike is over to address concerns about school calendars and “other areas of importance.”
There is a distinction between emergency remote education and online distance learning. The first is done amid a crisis, compared to distance learning where there is a comprehensive plan and a well-built online curriculum.
Information about YCSD’s remote learning program implemented during the strike can be found on the district’s website. The information states that students should be logging into the programs each day for online learning so attendance is recorded.
“The strike is not an excuse for non-participation of online learning,” the message read.