ERS Founder and CEO Karen Hawley Miles spoke with Rick Hess about how schools can rethink systems and spending in the face of COVID-19. See a preview below and read the full interview on EdWeek.
Rick: What are districts spending money on right now? What are some of the expenses that schools and districts are dealing with that people might not be thinking about?
Karen: Right now, districts are still scrambling to provide food for children and outfit them to enable access to teachers, classmates, and coursework through technology. Most districts haven't had the luxury yet of thinking about how spending will change next school year or even what summer school could look like in response to the new reality. One important thing to recognize is that though school isn't happening in buildings, most of the costs don't go away. Districts are continuing to pay their teachers, administrators, and many of their operational staff. That said, there are things districts won't have to spend on, such as substitutes, some utility costs, and in some cases, bus drivers and hourly workers.
Rick: How should they be spending their money? What do we know about what works for schools and students?
Karen: Until now, we've had so little evidence about how remote and technology-based learning is done well. Now we have an incredible opportunity to learn more about what works and what doesn't through this unprecedented natural experiment. Approaches range from daily schedules with homework assignments sent by e-mail to daily video programming targeted by grade and subject taught by great district teachers to more sophisticated online courses developed over years with millions of dollars. Spending money to learn what works would pay back big.