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Letters to the Editor: Online learning poses serious challenges. Here’s how new college grads can help

Rebecca Biernat watches as her 6-year-old son, Seamus, takes a live class online at their home in San Francisco.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: One thing has become abundantly clear — students learning remotely need extra help beyond what one classroom teacher can provide. Affluent families can afford tutors, but most cannot. (“LAUSD, teachers reach tentative deal on remote learning,” Aug. 3)

It’s time for a national emergency tutoring program.

Recent college graduates, who either have been laid off or have no prospect of gaining employment during the pandemic, could be hired (or volunteer in exchange for at least partial student loan forgiveness) as online tutors to help K-12 teachers. Each college grad could be paired with five students from a teacher’s class and meet with them online several times a week.

The benefits are obvious: Students will receive the individual attention they need, teachers will have more time to create engaging online lessons, parents will be supported, and quite possibly a whole new generation of educators might be inspired to making teaching their career.

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Sharon Diskin, Woodland Hills

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To the editor: The article states, “The pact also establishes work expectations for non-teaching union members such as counselors, nurses and librarians.”

This is highly misleading. The correct title for certificated union members who work in Los Angeles Unified School District libraries is “teacher librarian,” because what they do in school all day is teach.

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In normal times they teach literature appreciation and information literacy in the school library, in classrooms and before and after regular school hours. They assist students and teachers in literary explorations and in finding, evaluating and using information.

During the pandemic, LAUSD teacher librarians have been at the forefront of virtual teaching, connecting individually or in small groups via Zoom. The correct title for educators who do this job is teacher librarian.

Sandy Schuckett, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Your editorial gives the misleading impression that the LAUSD will come up short in its online instruction when school starts this month.

In addition to ensuring that all students have devices and Internet access, we have taken the further step of ensuring that our instructional minutes guarantee a protected amount of time for live, synchronous teaching for every child. This is different than making a broad statement about how much instructional time a teacher delivers to all or some students.

Additional live instruction for students with learning differences or who are English learners will far exceed what’s listed as the minimum requirement.

LAUSD’s tentative agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles was written to secure a minimum number of synchronous minutes per day for each student, which is critical for our students’ equity and access to instruction. Other districts have listed their schedules from a teacher’s perspective. Teachers work more than the time they’re providing direct instruction to students. Comparing a student’s schedule from one school district to the amount of time a teacher works in another is apples and oranges.

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Alison Yoshimoto-Towery, Los Angeles

The writer is LAUSD’s chief academic officer.


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