Friday, December 4, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 40

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on November 18th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 38 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 38

Yo-yo time


Here we are. Back in the purple zone. And it’s not just Santa Barbara County either. It’s basically most of the state’s populated areas. COVID-19 is here and spreading fast, again.

New lockdowns seem imminent. 

It looks like distance learning won’t become a thing of the past anytime soon, mask wearing isn’t going away, and limits are here to stay. Well. Until we have a vaccine—maybe. 

So what are we going to do about education? 

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District certainly isn’t giving me high hopes. After learning that the district’s high schools were giving out four times as many failing grades this September as they were the same time last year, we are now learning that the district’s distance learning practices weren’t even up to state code! 

What the cluck? 

Yeah, I swear like a chicken. 

In October, the district released a “Distance Learning Response Plan”—code for, we’re trying to cover our asses by instructing teachers to accept late work and allow students to retake tests. 

Teachers such as Righetti High School English teacher Kim Karamitsos felt like it was a needed step in the right direction. 

“Some of the kids have gotten far behind already, and it just kept piling on, so some of them had just sort of given up,” she said. 

Turns out that actual teaching—live, interactive, face-to-face, virtual—was only happening twice a week. No wonder students are failing. They have zero structure. 

One student told the Sun that she had only one 80-minute instructional period for each class every week. Most high school students take classes daily. The student said she was in charge of structuring three days of her week, when she had no class and a ton of schoolwork.

Sounds like college. Only college students are supposed to be adults. But even 30 percent of college students in the U.S. drop out their first year. More than 43 percent of students enrolled in two-year community colleges drop out before getting a degree. 

And the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District thought it would be a great way to teach at a time when education went remote. Why? 

The district apparently just figured out that it wasn’t following state education code that went into place months ago mandating daily interactions with students. How? 

And the Santa Barbara County Office of Education, which is the goose that spilled the beans, isn’t a regulatory body, so who’s in charge of making sure school districts are doing what they’re supposed to do so our kids don’t fail?

Who’s making sure students are getting what they actually need to get the public education that’s promised to them? Teachers who care, like Karamitsos, and parents can only do so much. 

They need tools to augment that passion. Students need structure and support from our public school districts. And somebody needs to hold school districts accountable for their lackluster performance. 

Looks like the only group trying to do that right now are actual high school students, who protested the late changes on Nov. 16 in front of the district office, wondering why the district response was so inefficient and badly timed. 

The canary needs answers, as usual. Send comments to  

Weekly Poll
Would a second stay-at-home order be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

No, pandemic fatigue is too high to get people to follow a stay-at-home order.
Yes, we need it, otherwise our hospitals will be in rough shape.
Local governments should get a say—not all purple tier counties are the same.
It would be bad news for the economy.

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