Ohio Value Voters Open Letter to Paolo A. Dem

(LFC Comments:  Ohio Value Voters sent this open letter to the Ohio Superintendent of Schools , Paolo A. DeMaria.)
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Mr. Paolo A. DeMaria
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
25 South Front Street, 7th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-4183
Cc: State Board of Education Members
May, 20, 2020
Dear Mr. DeMaria:
This letter is in response to the recently released Ohio Department of Education plan for a restart of Ohio’s schools.
 
Waiting for a vaccine or cure is misguided, since there is no date certain. Ohio’s children can’t wait for quality education for a year or more, into perpetuity.
 
Not all parents will permit their children to be vaccinated if it is made available. The department should be working towards a goal of getting back to normalcy sooner rather than later.
 
The likely physical and mental health issues of continued distance learning outweigh the potential risk of coronavirus to children.
 
The department is naïve in believing “anecdotal observations” that students have “prospered” with remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental and emotional health have been seriously impacted while students have been in isolation. An undisciplined schedule, financial strains on families, and fear of the future present daily stress for students. Not being in a physical location with instructors adds additional uncertainty and removes the stability they once knew. Providing a safe and hopeful classroom where students can be with peers and friends is far less risky than being in a remote unsupervised and unproductive learning environment.
Ohio Value Voters has been concerned for several years that obscene materials are being presented and accessed by students in Ohio schools and libraries. The department’s plan to expand remote learning and using revamped curriculum has added another substantial risk to children. Recently, for example, school boards and classrooms using “zoom” technology for remote access were hacked and child pornography was displayed. (See articles at the end of this report.) This is highly unacceptable and criminal. Our research has shown that harmful material and images are being presented to children in Ohio, and now more than ever. http://ohiovaluevoters.org/protect-ohio-children/
 
While homeschooling is a viable educational choice for families, it is only successful when it is, in fact, a choice and not forced by governmental order.
 
Ohio Value Voters is a strong advocate for home schooling by parents. Home school education requires strong curriculum and commitment by dedicated parents and families. In the scenario of the public schools using remote learning, the parents have been handed a new responsibility that they may not want, have time for, or skills to deliver.  With remote learning, how do you assess performance? Unless an adult is supervising the lesson plans and delivery of course materials, how can you know learning is happening? This is not quality education being proposed in the ODE plan.
 
Like all educational issues, decisions should be made locally with parental input. The state should provide general, practical recommendations and allow various school districts to implement them with flexibility. (Masks aren’t practical).
The Ohio Department of Education’s plan refers to creating “lists of partner organizations.” We have been highly frustrated by the lack of transparency in Ohio schools to gather public records information regarding contractors and curriculum. We are concerned about who the “partner organizations” are and who is the “education community” the ODE refers to? Parents need transparency about decisions being made to change curriculum and how it’s delivered by “partner organizations.” Who is making these changes? How are we ensuring quality content and eliminating any possibility that it could be coming from unsafe sources or outside the United States? How will parents have insight into curriculum? These are just a few of the questions we have about introducing new remote learning models.
When districts and teachers are independently changing curricula, it introduces risk that students could receive inaccurate, radical, fictional, or even pornographic information. Quality is in jeopardy.
Ohio Value Voters is opposed to mandatory requirements of children and teenagers wearing face masks. If they are mandatory, it should only be for teachers and staff; optional for children.
We believe creating a new professional development program for teachers is expensive and another reason to avoid remote learning. Some teachers may not be qualified or able to develop remote learning skills. Teachers (60 and older) should not be teaching due to their risk and vulnerability to COVID-19.
We are pleased that a survey has been presented to parents with an unprecedented number of parents responding. Will the ODE follow parents’ advice? “It seems like people want their children going back to school, but they’re concerned over all the unknowns,” was stated by Ohio PTA President, Ana Chapman. Transparency and parental involvement should be increasingly more available during these uncertain times; especially when quality is suffering.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
John Stover, President
Ohio Value Voters

News reports on pornography in on-line meetings:


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