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Letters to the Editor: Technology can’t replace teachers, and coronavirus closures prove it

LAUSD school closure
Students wait to pick up laptops at Linda Esperanza Marquez High School in Huntington Park on March 26.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: With the COVID-19 pandemic erasing a third of the school year for our children, educational leaders are fretting over how the lost class time can be “made up.” (“15,000 L.A. high school students are AWOL online, 40,000 fail to check in daily amid coronavirus closures,” March 30)

What is being overlooked is that the experience may also allow schools to evaluate current trends in education and to pave the way for new educational practices to be tested.

We’re learning that the trend toward using technology to improve learning is not in the future any more. We have also learned that putting the needed technology into the hands of all students comes at an extremely high cost.

Most importantly, we are learning that having a well-trained, creative teacher in the classroom is indispensable. Technology can provide information and processes for students to interact with our modern curriculum, but learning has always been a social process of comparing new information with what is already known and experienced.

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Children need constant interaction with adults and other children to absorb new knowledge.

While our schools struggle with determining how to make up for the lost learning caused by this pandemic, let us also begin discussing how our teachers will be trained and how our schools will be financed so they can prepare students to meet the needs of our rapidly changing world.

Bobbi Bruesch, Rosemead

The writer is a board member of the Garvey Unified School District and an inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.

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To the editor: I am an educator who now teaches 187 students remotely from my home.

Although only about 60% of my students are participating regularly with my lessons, the majority of students that are virtually absent are not the disadvantaged kids in my classes. My district has made great efforts to ensure that all students have internet access and a laptop to use at home.

Rather, most of the students missing online lessons are digitally well-connected and technologically savvy and were earning good grades before our school’s closure. They know through district communications that their grades cannot be negatively affected by any work they do or not do.

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Without that accountability, I believe they have just logged off for the year.

Paul Andersen, Santa Ana

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To the editor: More than a decade ago I worked in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s technology department assisting in the district’s goal of using online learning. I can confirm Supt. Austin Beutner’s statement that the “harder part is establishing a connection to the student.”

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Without the human connection embedded in the “hybrid” model of online learning, students will become frustrated, particularly in mathematics, and just sign off.

Paul Burns, Granada Hills


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