Leon County Schools Need to Address Distance Learning Concerns

Leon County Schools Need to Address Distance Learning Concerns

Now that Florida Governor DeSantis has cancelled public school for the remainder of the year, a decision that was supported by Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna, Leon County Schools (LCS) need to address distance learning concerns.

The cancellation of school now means that students, parents, and teachers will rely on Leon County’s version of distance learning for five more weeks.

However, recent feedback about the distance learning experience raises questions that need to be addressed by LCS moving forward.

This is what we know.

First, it appears that few LCS teachers regularly schedule online interaction with students even though video platforms are available.

Our research indicates that some private schools in Leon County are using video platforms to implement school schedules that are similar to their regular schedules. This approach requires students to login at specific times on a daily basis to receive live instruction.

This is not the case with LCS.

An informal poll by TR of approximately 20 students across six different middle and high schools in Leon County found no consistent delivery of instruction via a video platform. Each of these 20 students are enrolled in six classes.

TR found that eleven students have had no regularly scheduled video interaction with teachers since distance learning began.

Another six students indicated that scheduled live video instruction takes place in one or two classes about once or twice a week.

And three students – all enrolled in the same middle school – reported the use of live video instruction in four classes. However, the instruction took place only once a week.

Consider this math.

If each LCS teacher was required to teach one full class period a week via a live video platform, this would result in 80% percent less interaction than during normal school operations.

However, it appears LCS students are not even getting this minimal level of live instruction from teachers.

Based on these findings, in addition to talks with school officials, it appears there is no LCS district-wide requirement for teachers to engage in a minimum level of live instruction via video platforms.

Second, there appears to be no standard distance learning school platform across Leon County schools. In fact, there appears to be so many platforms that it is making it difficult for students to focus on assignments and effectively communicate with teachers.

Ishrit Gupta, a student at Rickards High School, penned his thoughts on this issue in an article published by the Tallahassee Democrat.

Gupta stated, “We’re tired of having to look through seven or eight platforms every hour. We’re tired of clicking redirect links to search for our assignments. This is my plea to Leon County Schools: Condense our platforms and make it easier on us all.”

TR has submitted two questions to LCS officials.

First, are teachers required to provide a minimum level of live instruction via a video platform? If not, why?

And second, is there a plan to address the confusion around the different platforms used by teachers in the current distance learning program?

46 Responses to "Leon County Schools Need to Address Distance Learning Concerns"

  1. Elementary special education teacher here.
    I teach all subjects for 4 grade levels. So live lessons daily are difficult at best. My students need hands on and face to face learning. I am doing my best hoping they maintain the skills they have. In addition to the teaching we are having to create and/or find teaching resources far different from our typical. In addition, special education teachers now how additional paperwork and documentation we keep to track services provided.

    If we adhered to some of the live teaching g schedules proposed here we would be working more than we did in the traditional setting.

    Like my colleagues I desperately miss my students. Every time I video chat or talk to them on the phone I hang up and break down in tears. I break down because I worry about the student living in a studio apartment with her family of 4. I worry about my kiddo that doesn’t understand why he can’t come to school. I worry that they think we no longer care for them or won’t let them come to school.
    For our most vulnerable populations this is so much more than reading and math.

    This is a time we wonder does Jane have enough to eat. Did Johnny get beaten because he didn’t get his work done in time. There are so many kiddos that we are worrying over.

    For the students that are engaged and trying to work they will likely be ok and catch up with some extra work. For our most vulnerable ones this may be the setback that leads to a very different life.

    Teachers are not to blame. We are doing what we do best, putting a smile on our face and teaching and loving our students. And if I have to choose between teaching a child to multiply fractions or teaching them that in times of difficulty that you reach out to show kindness and compassion I’ll take the latter.

    It’s clear the world needs more kindness and less hatefulness.

  2. Steve,

    Your math makes more sense than I can make out of the math that goes into the salary schedules in Leon County Schools. Teachers are paid the 46th lowest in the state of Florida yet Rocky put people in jobs paying them over $100,000 each and they never had to even interview. So let’s do the math, supporting and conniving with Rocky Hanna pre-election plus him winning the election (mainly by misleading state and federal authorities on a $600,000 false accusation which Rocky later admitted was all made up in order to dirty up the former superintendent) equals the political insiders in the Leon County School system that played both sides make $100,000 a year while teachers are left with nothing.

    Leon County School salaries are now a direct result of Rocky Hanna’s favoriteism and cronyism for a few self-selected ego-driven non-classroom teachers.

  3. The longer Rocky is Superintendent the worse our schools perform Check out the new The U.S. News rankings . Rocky and his hand-picked over paid ego maniacs who are underperforming also known as Assistant Superintendents.

  4. Many school systems around the state have addressed this in effective ways.
    Some immediately provided professional development and then set up a class schedule for teachers to follow to not overlap. Others coordinated with local companies to provide internet access to all students. Having an organized system and platform for delivering instruction is essential. Once again, LCS seems to be responding in a fragmented and less than effective manner.

  5. Rocky has a proven history of running people out of town that he dislikes, bullying them like he did to the teacher her he dated. He and his brother paid private investigators to follow people around, Rocky put together a notebook he sent to the FBI which he later admitted was filled with purposely designed misleading information that cost the district $600,000. And you want people to publicly say where they live and where they work?

  6. Rocky now that you and the strange Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum have announced a grading curved why don’t you start a pay curve? Lower the pay of your bloated top heavy do nothing political groupies you call Assistant Superintendents who teach nobody, do nothing, wait, they stroke your over inflated ego. Not bad for over $100,000 each as you pay us the 46th lowest salaries in Florida. Grading on a curve… is that what you did when you dated your teachers as a principal? Those that failed your mandate of silence after you dated them, which is a clear violation of the educator code of ethics, were bullied into a transfer with a monetary settlement. The Rocky curve.

    1. Oh Mark, a new low, even for you…the only “strange” thing here is that you didn’t have the backbone to respond to my earlier questions. Where do you teach, since you’ve suddenly revealed after years of posting that you’re a teacher? Perhaps you don’t want to reveal the school, is it Elementary, Middle, High, how about just answer the other simple questions? “What platforms are you using to provide the best distance learning opportunities, how are you engaging your students, share your plan as to how you can do so much better than the district experts who are working tirelessly to offer the best options, with unimaginable challenges” Perhaps this might add a little credibility to your continuous ranting against Rocky. It’s unlikely though, as repetitive mud slinging just makes you look small and desperate.

  7. I know thus is a learning curve for all, and I hope it will get better.
    I’m not sure how these students and parents are expected to teach the students the lessons, instead of teachers. Even if they combined some of the classes for online instruction, that would be better than what we have with some classes.

    I’m blessed to be able to work from home … but I have to work my normal hours.

    There are some teachers doing way more than others and I commend them. Ms. Day … she is top notch. Always reaching out, asking what would help, videos, instruction, updating students and parents, and most of all available!! I just would like more teachers to follow her lead.

  8. Sorry! I saw a lot of typos in my first post. Wanted to repost and fix the errors.Is your child in a public school as well? Mine are. The plan your child has is very similar to the plan my children have. One is in high school in LCS and the other in elementary. The elementary teacher has 3 live sessions a week and 5 prerecorded sessions. The high school teachers have optional live sessions every week. They both get special area and elective assignments on Monday mornings for the week. So if people are complaining about what public schools are doing, your child’s plan wouldn’t work for them either. What makes one person happy doesn’t work for the other. So you will never please everyone.

  9. Teachers will implement the plan. Does LCS have a coordinated plan? Take into account that they are making decisions in a stressed environment and poor decisions will be plentiful. I am thankful my young son attends a school that has an element of home schooling as an option. The teachers there teach 2 Live Zoom sessions per day and provide 2 prerecorded lessons per day. In addition, assignments for Music, Theatre, PE and Art are distributed each Sunday night.

  10. This is just a lame attempt at taking a shot at the public school system. Comparing the public system to private? Apples to oranges. They’ve made the transition to distance based learning more smoothly? Congrats to them. But let’s all stop and realize how much smaller of an infrastructure each private school has to set up, manage, and oversee. LCS is responsible for dozens of schools, and thousands of children.
    And you want us to offer classes at normally scheduled times? Let’s consider any teacher who has small children at home. Or technology issues. Or the parents that aren’t supporting and watching over their kids at home.
    As it is, I’ve had a continual stream of parents complaining that this is too much to manage, and that we need to lower our expectations. If we ramped it up to daily sessions for all classes, all hell would break loose.
    And not to beat a dead horse, but yeah, 20 students as your sample size? I don’t care if you sampled 20 kids at 20 schools— that’s a negligible poll to include.
    As teachers, we’re pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones and trying to do better every single day. Maybe you should do the same.

    1. One simple question. As a high school parent, is it too much to expect a teacher to conduct live video instruction twice a week for 50 minutes?

  11. Leon County teachers are great and care about your kids and my grandchildren. We need a new Board and Supt that care and support our teachers. This fall elect new leadership. Hanna must go!

  12. Full disclosure, I’m a teacher in Jackson County, Fl. “Informal” poll . . . Of students . . . Any queries put forth to the teachers?? You know, the ones that had to create an entirely new teaching platform overnight?? Until you do, your position is invalid . . .

    1. Dave, you are a teachers union representative. The concern isn’t with the teachers, it’s with the superintendent and the Board. You are shilling for them. So does rocky have the teachers union in his pocket now? Were there generous donations to the teachers union from HAH? How much did he donate?

  13. I agree with Not Necessary!! Amen to that. You took the words out of my mouth. I don’t want a teacher to keep one of my kids on the computer all day because then the other would never be able to finish his or her work. Be practical and think about it. Teachers are working hard. Period.

  14. My children’s teachers are doing a great job transitioning to a new environment and juggling the needs of kids. I agree with a previous teacher about the posts being shared across multiple platforms because not every family has the same technology at home. My kids are sharing one computer! There are a ton of free educational resources available through Leon County Schools and Classlink. It’s not fun or easy to do this from home for any of us, teachers, parents, or kids. We haven’t personally been able to make the live meetings our teachers plan because our work schedules interfere with the timeframes. I like a quote I recently heard something like.. there are two kinds of people in the world, those who are looking for and excuse and those who are looking to get things done. It may be be getting done perfectly, but it’s getting done.

  15. Internet access is hard. My internet was down on Thursday till around 7 this morning. Many families lime mine don’t have computers or fancy, newer phones. Since we are in the rural area of Tallahassee internet is at 3gigs if that. The teachers are doing their best as are the parents. We are working with what we have and even that is hard since teachers want pictures of the kids work sent to them. A lot has to be taken into consideration when it comes to grading our kids. Some of the work comes with no explanations especially math.

    1. Once again Rocky Hanna could have worked to get access and hot spot for students. Rocky and his under achieving, over paid political groupies do not care. They only care about what they are paid. Rocky rather than sending home packets you should have sent home hot spots. How many hot spots could be purchased for the $106,000 you pay Scott Hansen? Rocky why not spend your HAHA money on hot spots?. Rocky, your lack of planning and leadership flaws are on display, but hey keep on writing letters to the Governor rather than taking real action. Misdirect is your best plan.

      1. Once again Mark, you show that your postings are only to demonize Rocky. Suddenly you are a teacher? You’ve never made that claim before in the months/years you’ve been trolling every article on TR to crucify Rocky. Please do let us know what school you teach at and what efforts you are putting into distance learning? What platforms are you using, how are you engaging your students, share your plan as to how you can do so much better than the district experts who are working tirelessly to offer the best options, with unimaginable challenges. I’m sure they’d be open to your ideas. Your posts are so completely irrelevant at this point that nobody is listening. You’ve repeated, over and over and over the same old news. We get it, you don’t like Rocky…you’re entitled to your opinion, we’re just tired of having to read it. It’s a waste of our time, and yours quite frankly. Nobody but your two or three comrades pay attention. Rocky’s first priority has been to provide internet access and mobile devices to students that need them. The entire education nation is in search of the same. Supply and demand, perhaps a concept that eludes you makes it quite a challenge. Do your research, before you assume that it’s an easy effort. He has beyond all odds procured hot spots, routers, wifi connectivity, initiated a plan to re-distribute available mobile devices and is making countless other tough decisions that aren’t politically motivated, they are purely about providing the instructional options that the students need in these unprecedented times. Is the plan perfect? Of course not, it’s never had to be formulated…but every single stakeholder is on task. Rocky and his “under achieving, overpaid staff” aren’t trolling TR articles to interject political diatribe, they are doing the heavy lifting to educate the students to the best of their ability. You insult the hard work and dedication of teachers and administrators district wide. SHAME ON YOU.

        1. “Nobody but your two or three comrades pay attention.” Well you pay attention and have hired a PR firm, created shell corporations to give money to create political capital, spent a lot of time coming here to post a rant against Mark, and got your staff to do the same. I don’t think its that Mark doesn’t “like Rocky.” We aren’t on the grade school playground, The fact is there are many families and children that have lost their chance at a good life because of Rocky and Mark empathizes with them. Empathy is something that doesn’t always seem to be in Rocky’s vocabulary. Based on personal experience, Rocky is pretty ruthless, even toward vulnerable children. And I don’t think TR runs articles because of Mark. My guess is that TR has repeatedly seen some things that are very concerning about Rocky, not all of which they may be able to print. To those in the know, Rocky has to go.

          1. I don’t personally know Rocky and certainly have no input in the decisions he’s making. I do know many teachers that are working diligently to provide instruction to their students, under duress, and with many challenges. I don’t work for the School Board (as Mark now claims but as yet responded) and as a parent, certainly only want the best instructional experience for all children in Leon County Schools during these unprecedented times. Do I pay attention to Mark,? That’s laughable, his rhetoric slamming Rocky on any and every article is ridiculous . If a sinkhole opened up in Leon County somehow Mark would spin it as Rocky’s fault. I rest assured that teachers, principals, administrators, IT staff, nutrition service staff and so many others are doing their absolute best in this very difficult situation. You’re right Mimi, we’re not on a school playground…this is all too real.

  16. “Why are teachers only teaching one time a week or a couple times a week?”…if you understood the amount of time that we were spending getting technology to work you would understand. Also, it is very hard to teach “live” all week with families sharing devices. Most of us offer at least two hours a day of office hours, are also working with small groups via live instruction and on our off time are planning, making videos (and it takes me at least an hour to make a decent 10 minute instructional video), answering emails from kids and parents, etc. I know it sounds like live would be an easy solution…but a big part of this is are families sharing devices and people not being able to make the meetings set up. Again…there are NO easy answers here. Just STOP the insanity of blaming teachers…it is not fair and it just is not true! Until you have walked a mile in my shoes…you really will not get it.

    1. I understand that you and I and every teacher in Leon has been failed by Rocky Hanna and his minions. The lack of leadership, the lack of support, lack of pay for teachers all rests with Rocky Hanna.

      If you helped Rocky in his campaign and you were an insider with Rocky you were given $100,000 a year without an interview.

  17. Rocky Hanna is an epic failure! His lack of leadership and understanding of curriculum is in the spotlight. He cared more about big paydays for Scott Hansen, Alan Cox,Gillian Gregory, Kathleen Rodgers and is political buddies than he did to plan for the need of supportive distance learning.

    As we struggle to bring instruction to the lives of students Rocky pays us the 46th lowest salaries in Florida!! What do the Assistant Superintendent that are paid over $100,000 each do each day during distance learning each day? Why they stroke the over inflated ego of Rocky Hanna. Does anybody care that Rocky put people in jobs paying them over $100,000 each and they never had to interview? As teachers we have had enough of Rocky and his political insiders.

    Must be nice to be King Rocky and his political buddies that make over $100,0000 each as we are the 46th lowest paid teachers in Florida!

  18. It is so easy to complain about teachers. Unless you are a teacher yourself, you will never understand what they’re going through right now. Especially those who have kids of their own. Trying to juggle their work and their kids’ work. Teachers simply do what their admin says. They do what the district says. Sadly, they’re like puppets! And they get blamed for everything! Be nice and Thank a teacher!!! Some of us appreciate you educators!!!! <3

  19. If School was in session right now, the Teachers would be giving LIVE Instructions, lessons and q&a sessions so, WHY are the Teachers only doing this a couple times a WEEK and some only Once a Week?

  20. Great response! Is TR’s intent to ask questions or pick on people working very hard to deliver instruction as best they can. Have you considered AT ALL the curriculum materials and how some of those…that we spend millions on a year…that are also
    not working in the virtual world? Have you tried to make videos of instruction or tried to teach on Zoom? Have you tried to give tech support to families using computers, phones, android tablets, iPads, etc? Walk a mile in our shoes…and maybe you will be begin to understand how complicated this is. Everyone is doing their best…teachers, administrators, parents, and students. Nobody needs judgement in the midst of this crisis. There is a HUGE learning curve for everyone in all of this for every person involved. Let’s not make LCS and its teachers the bad guy in all of this. Most of us are putting in WAY more time than we would in our classroom…on top of managing our own kids. We offer grace to our families that have not gotten connected yet or maybe need a lighter load, etc. Stop assuming the worst of LCS and it’s teachers! This article did NOT help my Monday morning after being up until 2 am getting my classroom ready for today.

  21. Even though I do offer online teaching regularly on available platforms, I guarantee there are students of mine that would say I don’t. These are the ones that are unaware that their teachers have online classes going.
    This reporting has a valid kernel: we need the kids to connect with their teachers. But to lay the blame on teachers, schools, or Rocky is just scapegoating.

    This is a super complicated situation with no easy, one-sentence solutions. We’re dealing with every family in Leon with school and juggling ALL of their life situations and trying to make it work.

  22. Since school is closed we need to stop paying anyone who works there. Suffer with the rest of us. Also cut taxes next year.

    1. Campuses are closed, not the actual schools. Teachers and admin are still very much engaged in working, developing curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

  23. Praise, jstar.
    I would watch this thread for more intelligent, considered responses like yours, but I’m ashamed to have given this site even one of my clicks.

  24. wow, 20 whole students polled! what a valid sample size!

    As a teacher, i have ~120 students. i do live lessons/q&a sessions multiple times per week. Out of my 120 kids, 7 have participated. Total. Across all my live sessions.

    how’s that for a sample size?

    As far as the multiple platforms is concerned, I cross post my lesson plans to 5 different platforms to meet the needs of my students. Some kids can get to FOCUS, others can’t. Some can get to Outlook email but can’t check anything else.

    To slash it all and require one platform would be to exclude a significant percentage of the kids.

    additionally, remember that many teachers ALSO have multiple students in their homes and may have limited devices (and no money to buy new ones) as well. With the hope that this crisis will be over before August, the best thing for teachers and students to do is “whatever you can” and give grace for the next six weeks to cover the rest.

    1. Do you not understand that the students polled represent their entire class? It’s like having 120 classes being represented, I guess TR made it too complicated for you.

  25. LCS middle school teacher. Live for two hours every day, plus additional video instruction two/three times per week, in addition to planning, grading, giving feedback, and connecting with stressed and tired parents and kids.
    You asked twenty kids from ONE school? And then formed and published a conclusion? Perhaps we should offer Mr. Stewart the grace and courtesy he neglected to extend to the dedicated professionals working a difficult and, apparently, thankless job – maybe he’s just new at this. I’m sure he can do better.

    1. The article polled 20 students that are enrolled in six classes at three middle schools and three high schools. Based on these findings and discussions with LCS officials we wrote that their is no district-wide minimum level requirement for teachers to engage with students via available video platforms. We stand by this reporting.

  26. Sounds like the Board, Supt. and staff are taking a paid vacation. Parents your kids deserve better. This fall you will get a chance to get new leadership. Take it! Vote in a new team. God bless our kids.

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