On Thursday, November 18th, we attended a virtual City Club Youth Forum titled “Reimagining Education Post Covid-19” which largely dealt with how the pandemic exacerbated/brought to the forefront the inequities that have existed in education for a long time and attempts to re-imagine education so that these problems can be successfully addressed.
The forum was in the format of a discussion wherein the participants were:
Dr. Howard B. Fleeter, Ph.D., owner of Howard Fleeter and Associates, and former public policy professor at Ohio State University
Dr. Kevin G. Welner, J.D., Ph.D., Professor at the School of Education at the University of Colorado
Mr. Eric S. Gordon, CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District
The moderator for the discussion, itself, was Mr. Aditya Kalahasti while Mr. Kenji Sakaie handled the Q and A. Both were very articulate high school students and members of the City Club Youth Forum.
During the discussion, which was quite wide-ranging, the pros and cons of various teaching methods experimented with during the pandemic like online teaching were discussed as were reasons behind educational inequities (i.e. redlining and the digital divide) and methods used to address the inequities which have also yielded mixed results in Ohio like charter schools.
To be sure, constructive ways to spend additional short-term federal monies figured prominently.
We were mainly interested in the state of education pertaining to students who are refugees or have immigrated to the United States, so we submitted a question that was answered by Mr. Gordon who said that he was very proud of our multicultural, multiracial community in Cleveland and protecting a student’s home culture and language while helping him/her acquire U.S. culture and the English language are indeed important goals.
In fact, as he told us, Cleveland was one of the first locales to an international newcomers’ center which we know is Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy.
Mr. Gordon went on to talk about various teaching methods employed there like smart boards which enable students, when dealing with a particular topic, to access information/examples from their individual homelands and share it with others thus making the learning experience more collective.
Moreover, as Mr. Gordon pointed out; research has shown that the best English-language instruction for English learners has also yielded positive results for students of color born here in the United States.