Choice will likely be a permanent feature in the future of education, as schools look for the best ways to balance quality opportunities and safety for students, faculty and staff, according to University of North Texas Visiting Professor Stephen Waddell.
As schools look at options for teaching students safely during the current pandemic, many parents are juggling homeschooling, virtual versus in-person classes and how to manage jobs if kids are unable to return to the classroom. Additionally, some families have the extra burden of being unable to afford the Wi-Fi or necessary equipment for their children to attend classes virtually.
“Schools and parents find themselves in uncharted territory,” said Waddell, who teaches in UNT’s College of Education and formerly served as Lewisville ISD superintendent. “Both parents and schools want the same things – quality education delivered in a way that’s safe for children and staff.”
The spread of the virus and government guidelines change often, sometimes daily, he said, leading everyone to have to make decisions with no certainty that circumstances will remain the same.
“What is true is that schools know a lot more than they did last March about online learning. Choice has been with us for many years now, through home schooling, private schools and online schools. Choice will undoubtedly be a permanent feature of public school systems going forward and that can be a good thing for families looking to have their children’s learning styles more effectively met,” Waddell said. What we need right now is for schools to be given the time and resources to prepare for robust online learning and to develop solid plans to receive students and school workers safely back into buildings. That means pushing back start dates that can realistically accomplish these priorities.”
Waddell is a former teacher and education administrator with more than 35 years of experience in school districts, including Lewisville ISD, where he was the superintendent from 2011-2015. He is currently a visiting professor in the UNT College of Education, where he teaches education leadership classes and was appointed facilitator of the Superintendent Certification Program. He is also the Executive Facilitator with Engage2Learn and has served as a member of a special advisory committee for the Commissioner of Education to advise on Texas education initiatives. He earned his Ed.D. from UNT in 1996.