Day one of Gahanna-Jefferson strike: Students caught in the middle

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Day one of the Gahanna-Jefferson teacher strike is already affecting its students.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen or where it’s going to take you,” said Malaika Shaffer. “You just have to let go and coast.”

16-year-old Malaika Shaffer is in her junior year at Gahanna-Lincoln High School. She said day one of the teacher strike surprised her when she logged in for her classes online.

“I was trying to navigate what to do because usually you log in and go to your Google meet and you have your work already listed on Google Classrooms,” she said. “But there was no work listed today, so I really didn’t know what to do in most of my classes.”

Students were supposed to learn independently Tuesday with no live classes because of the strike, according to an email from the principal. Teachers on strike said they were asked to leave assignments for the students before they went on strike.

“As a parent, this has been really heartbreaking in a lot of ways,” said Malaika’s mom, Siobhan Wolf-Shaffer.

She said they want the best for their kids, and hopes a resolution happens sooner rather than later.

“There were very heavy hearts,” said Betsy Baker who is the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association Spokesperson. “There were a lot of tears shed from people because we are well aware of how this is impacting our community. At the same time, I think that should be a wakeup call to how strongly we feel about our position.”

Baker says the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association believes livestreaming classes leaves students out of the learning process because she says students will be left watching and not engaging.

“You would teach online robotics far differently than you would teach in-person robotics,” Baker said. “So, we would be asking a student at home to watch kids in class build a robot? That’s not fair to that kid. That’s not equitable.”

The district said it is saddened that teachers would abandon students during this pandemic. The district says it believes live streaming is the best way to ensure that all students have access to the full curriculum offered by the district and says it’s open to discussing with teachers the technology platforms that work best for them.

Part of the district’s statement about the strike reads as follows:

A negative consequence that is unnecessary, and we firmly believe that our teachers should be willing to accommodate this approach for the benefit of our students.

Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools (GJPS) Board of Education and GJPS district administration

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