FIDs put too much pressure on parents (Editorial)

Samantha Martin, Editor in Chief

In a time where technology makes learning new information and completing schoolwork far easier than ever before, many schools are taking advantage of new programs meant to enhance education and make it more accessible. Often times, those programs are quite effective; however, sometimes they only serve to cause issues for students and families. 

The Flexible Instruction Day program, or FID, adopted by the Carlisle Area School District starting this school year, is one of those programs. While convenient in that it keeps the school from cutting into summer break due to snow days, FID causes a lot of conflicts for families across the district, and the program must be reevaluated and revised before being used. 

This is not the first time Carlisle has adopted a controversial program to manage school cancellations. In 2014, Carlisle Area School District piloted the eDay program, where, after a day when school was canceled, teachers assigned students online work to complete during a  make-up day. This was done in lieu of having an in-school make-up day. 

The program, while effective in that it minimized the number of in-house snow make-up days that took place, had some major flaws. Many families felt as if they did not have access to the correct resources, whether they be technology or time, for their students to complete the work. 

“Some families tried to work through many online activities with limited number of devices at home for siblings to share,” recalled Stephanie Douglas, the Director of Digital Learning and Technology for the Carlisle Area School District. “Some parents had to take off work with their students when, on a typical make-up day, their students would have been at school.  Some families noticed inconsistencies in the amount of work assigned between the different elementary schools.”

Other families struggled with the temporary change in dynamics that the eDays caused: many parents felt that it was not their job to educate their kids, while other parents struggled to get their children to do the work. 

“I heard from the parent meeting that they couldn’t get their kids to do the work,” Michelle Disbrow, a senior English teacher at CHS who sat on both the parental and teacher advisory boards for the eDay program, said. “Kids act differently, or can act differently, in school for a teacher versus at home for a parent.” 

The new Flexible Instruction Days are extremely similar to the eDays of Carlisle’s past: according to the Carlisle Area School District website, students will still receive assignments from their teachers via the Internet, or through paper copies they can get at school the following day, and still get three days to complete the work. 

The only major difference, the website reads, is that the FID days will take place on the actual day school is canceled, rather than the eDays, which happened on the scheduled snow make-up days. 

The use of FIDs certainly has benefits. It allows teachers to remain on schedule to finish their curriculum by the set end date for the year, meaning that summer vacations–or even anticipated summer moves–do not experience interference. They also allow parents to be more hands-on regarding their students’ learning in ways they had not been able to before. 

“Several parents commented that they enjoyed [the] opportunity to work with their younger children and to see ‘school’ through a new perspective,” said  Douglass. “There were students that enjoyed the independent learning experience and many families appreciated having the make-up days, especially those around the spring break, free for travel.” 

That being said, there are plenty of issues that will most likely arise due to the FID program that families, and eventually the school district, will have to deal with. Families who struggled during the eDays to get childcare for their children will still struggle using the FID program. Parents who struggled with getting their students to complete eDay work would still have the exact same problems they did before. These issues are ones that the district must address and contemplate how to fix. 

Disclaimer: Articles designated as “Editorial” represent the views and opinions of the author, not the 2019-2020 Periscope staff, CHS/CASD administration, or the CHS student body.