On Thursday, former Massachusetts Education Secretary Paul Reville made his weekly appearance on Boston Public Radio, where he talked about the state’s quick pivot to online learning, and what it could mean for the future of Massachusetts schooling post-pandemic.
Reville said that while educators are currently still in “emergency response mode” with regard to online learning, the next few months could prove invaluable for restructuring how schools operate.
"We need to pivot, we need to redesign our systems of education,” he said, adding "I think part of the redesign is going to be built on some of the paradigm shifts that this crisis brings about. In other words, one size fits all doesn’t work."
Reville commended Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius for her work in supplying teachers with tools and professional development to guide their new approaches to remote teaching. He also called her efforts to expand internet access for Boston families “a huge shift,” and “long overdue."
Speaking of online learning, he said new formats could allow students to "keep pace– or even do better in some instances.” Inversely, he cautioned that weak implementation could “exacerbate the existing [achievement] gap” in underperforming schools.
"I think we’re into a new era,” he said. “This is an evolutionary moment– a sputnik kind of moment in changing education. I think it remains to be seen how we will respond to it, but I am optimistic over the long run that we will make progress, and we will adapt."
Paul Reville is former state secretary of education and a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, where he also runs the Education Redesign Lab. His latest book is "Broader, Bolder, Better: How Schools and Communities Help Students Overcome the Disadvantages of Poverty."