Editor’s note: Farmington Voice readers have asked that we pose one more question to Farmington Public Schools candidates: Where do you stand on sending students back into the classroom? We’re publishing responses as they are received.
Kevin Hammer (two-year term)
Since I began campaigning for school board, my top priority has been “Safe, In Person Instruction.” This has been featured as Priority #1 on both my web page (hammerforfps.com) since it was launched, and in all of my printed material. That is because it is the matter most in need of immediate action.
As a temporary shutdown was certainly appropriate in the Spring, it has become quite apparent that in-class instruction can be safely re-introduced.
The essence of education is the face-to-face instruction and interaction between a teacher and students. Anything less is less effective, to varying degrees, for all of them.
And in an almost tragic sense, children who may be on the wrong side of the achievement gap are likely the ones most affected negatively by remote learning.
Students also need the interaction to develop socially and physically, and many rely on the nutritional services of the district.
And I’m certain many teachers and parents are frustrated. Teachers must be frustrated by their lack of connection with their students, in both an emotional sense, and in the extra time it takes to connect and progress effectively.
Many parents must be quite anxious at their children’s diminished academic progress, and the demands on their time and resources.
As I initially stated, this is the matter most in need of immediate attention. But it is not merely a short term issue which will be remedied when our students return to the classroom. Every day that our children miss school, the harsher the effect on their, and our, long term prospects. Our children, and thus our economy, will compete locally, nationally and globally, which means they, and we, are all falling behind vis-à-vis other economies.
These are days of diminished progress for too many of our students that they will never get back. They are falling behind, and as I stated, tragically, it’s likely negatively affecting those who can least afford it.
I surely hope I am wrong, and that our students and teachers can make up for the lost progress. Many families are finding novel means to educate their children. Unfortunately, this is likely not the case in too many families. And keeping up, and catching up, is less likely to occur in the case of those most in need. Likely there are more unforeseen consequences.
Many schools are offering hybrid models of instruction, giving parents choice between in-person and remote, based on their family situation. I am confident FPS can do the same.
Likely students will be back in the classroom before the new board term begins. If not, as a Farmington Public Schools board member, I would do whatever I could to resume a safe return to the classroom as soon as possible.
After that, I’m looking forward to working with the entire Board, the Superintendent, Principals, Teachers and the entire FPS community to make FPS a top district again!