Virtual learning hurts students. So why is the federal government paying for virtual tutoring?

When Education Secretary Miguel Cardona appeared before Congress in September to push for the Biden administration’s stimulus funding for schools, Mr. promises to tutor to help students make up for missed learning, as well as ending the on-screen tutorial.

“Not only as an educator, but as a father, I can tell you that pre-computer learning is no substitute for face-to-face learning.” he say.

The stimulus bill, called the American Rescue Plan, would send $122 billion to schools over three years, and a sizable portion of that money would go toward tutoring. But because of labor shortages, the cost of high-quality tutoring, and the influence of the burgeoning high-tech industry, much of the tutoring will take place via computer screens – and not always with people around. on the other end of the line.

“Just looking at my son trying to notice anything,” said Laura Vaughan, a parent in Montgomery County, Md., a Washington suburb that has some of the longest school closures in the nation. Virtual things are difficult,” she said.

Critics say online tutoring rarely matches face-to-face tutoring, and only a few such services copy the strategies search has been shown to be most effective: a trained, paid tutor has a consistent personal relationship with the student; lessons during the day, do not let students skip class; and at least three sessions per week.

“An important part of tutoring is a social relationship with an interested adult,” said Amanda Neitzel, assistant research scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Education Research and Reform. “How can you build it in an online format?”

She added that her worry was that the federal push for tutoring would lead to “an expensive disaster.”

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