A shift in education occurred as public school administrators across America closed school buildings and sent students home for the remainder of the school year to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus. Realizing the responsibility to continue to educate students in a different setting, many public school administrators struggled to adjust from predominately classroom content delivery to virtual online delivery. Public education needed a reset, but few were prepared for changes to happen as rapidly as they did. During this time, the cultural Mountain of Education made significant changes that will most likely be permanent, and it remains to be seen whether or not those changes will benefit America or cause the nation harm. The result will depend on the prayers of believers. Whatever happens, we will forever connect the Coronavirus outbreak and consequent closing of school buildings with a seismic shift in education as we currently know it.
• The most apparent change to come to education was to online learning as a means to deliver instruction to students. Until the Coronavirus, online learning existed to accommodate those students who missed school days, needed to make up a missed or failed class to graduate, or who simply functioned better with online learning.
• The second significant change is that students will choose when and where they want to learn. Gone will be the “factory model” of education that began over 200 years ago. Manufacturers needed schools to educate workers who went to work when the 8:00 am factory whistle sounded and left work at the same sound at 5:00 pm. The structured school day could now be only a memory of past generations. With online learning, we begin to turn out students educated as independent workers not tied to brick and mortar institutions that require a physical presence in a specific location, bound to a rigid routine. Education has changed.
• If we pray, online learning has the potential to upend the secularization of schooling. Horace Mann founded the first public school in 1834, funded with taxpayer money. The use of taxpayer money gave Mann’s progressive supporters two advantages, money to build more schools and the elimination of religious instruction. Parents, wary of sending their children to failing schools, and schools that cause them to leave their faith, now because of virtual learning find themselves with options to select a curriculum that includes religious values.
• The disruption of the National Education Association (NEA) will continue its current decline in membership. As the largest labor union in the United States, the NEA is a powerful force in education. The NEA has lost a significant number of members in recent years as 27states have initiated right-to-work laws. As new school alternatives emerge, educators are less likely to join a union.
• Charter schools could be the trend of the future. The Department of Education under President Trump and with Secretary Betsy DeVos at the helm has promoted charter schools and school vouchers. President Trump recently said, “I want every single inner-city child in America who is today trapped in a failing school to have the freedom, the civil right, to attend the school of their choice.” With virtual learning and fewer tax dollars going to buildings, textbooks, consultants, etc. more school alternatives like online charter schools, online schools, private schools, and even vouchers emerge.
• For the history of schools in America, the gold standard has been hard-copy textbooks. With the advent of more online schools and learning with computers, the new delivery method will be online. Prayer is needed that the newly developed curriculum promotes the values and virtues that will strengthen the beliefs of America’s founding fathers.
Because of the Coronavirus, in a matter of a few weeks, virtual online instruction ceased being a convenience for a few students to being a necessity for all students. Virtual learning has the potential to upend everything that concerns public schools from morning commute traffic to a family’s routine. Students will now be able, even encouraged, to learn anywhere and anytime they wish.
The good news is online learning has the potential to strengthen the families of our nation. Switching to virtual learning gives parents more control over the education of their children.
The closing of public schools gave a wake-up call for parents. As many realized, they had more options available to them than they thought possible. A dream of President Trump has been to return the parents the right to choose the educational delivery system that would best suit their children.
One thing is for sure: education will no longer be the same in the United States and perhaps across the world. It could be better if we pray.
I’m asking you to pray over the possible changes and agree that only positive changes that benefit America, the students of this land, and the families of our nation will prevail.
Nancy serves as the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network (HAPN) Lead Prayer Coordinator for the Mountain of Education. For additional information go to: https://takingthemountainofeducation.com