Strong, Collaborative Labor–Management Relations Can Move Postpandemic Education Forward

Commentary author
Summary

As we move into fall and the beginning of a new school year, districts are facing myriad decisions, the consequences of which will determine how quickly and effectively they are able to recover from the effects of the pandemic and move education into a new era. This PACE commentary focuses on the kinds of decisions districts and unions are confronting together as well as on the ways in which collaborative labor–management relations cancontribute to a stronger education system designed to meet all students’ needs.

Improving Services for Students with Disabilities

The Opportunity and the Risk of Inaction
Commentary author
Elizabeth Kozleski
Summary

Students with disabilities have been especially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They and their parents have reported higher levels of anxiety and depression, the loss of specialized services and supports, and poor results from distance learning. Compared to the general student population, families with students with disabilities are more likely to express concern for their mental health and their children are more likely to experience little to no remote learning.

Unprecedented Times Provide Unprecedented Opportunity

Suburban Superintendents Reflect and Reimagine
Commentary authors
Sara Noguchi
Summary

The unprecedented closure of schools as a result of the global pandemic has had a dramatic—devastating, even—effect on our communities. In its wake, COVID-19 has exposed persistent inequities in our public school systems and has magnified concerns about providing for students’ basic needs, their emotional well-being, and their academic progress. Yet, as is often the case, hard times lead to opportunities to reimagine and rebuild.

Implementing a Restorative Restart by Planning for the Four Ts

Time, Talent, Training, and Technology/Materials
Commentary authors
Summary

This fall, schools and districts will likely return to full in-person instruction amid a lingering pandemic while being faced with the challenge of addressing heightened student academic and wellness needs associated with lost learning opportunities, extended periods of isolation and physical distancing, and other challenges students encountered during the pandemic. Though the demands on schools will be high, the resources available to schools will also be considerable, with state and federal dollars filling many district coffers to a level previously unmatched.

Utilizing COVID-19 Recovery Funds to Serve English Learners in California

Commentary author
Oscar Jiménez-Castellanos
Summary

This commentary provides California’s K–12 education leaders 10 recommendations for utilizing COVID-19 recovery funds to serve English learner students. It is important for leaders to act boldly and innovatively to begin to reimagine K–12 education, in particular for English learners, whose learning has been yet more negatively affected by the pandemic than that of their English-speaking peers.

Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Can Help Districts Plot Their Financial Course

Summary

The coming much-needed influx of federal and state money to California public schools is an unforeseen and unprecedented windfall that will certainly help mitigate the many extra expenses the pandemic has created. It would be easy, and perhaps understandable, for local officials to become cavalier about how they use the extra funds they receive. The catch is that it is a one-time infusion of funds, not a permanent increase for California’s perennially underfunded K–12 system. How can local school districts best use this one-time bump in funding?

Serving Students Experiencing Homelessness During the Pandemic

Commentary authors
Margaret Olmos
Ali Bloomgarden
Summary

The aim of this commentary—released as part of a series on expanding learning partnertships and learning in the context of the pandemic—is to provide actionable guidance for districts, schools, and expanded learning providers interested in best serving students experiencing homelessness. We seek to answer the question: How can expanded learning be leveraged to support pandemic recovery, specifically for students and families experiencing homelessness, who face compounding challenges of not having the tools and supports to participate in distance learning as well as the emotional and logistical consequences of economic and housing insecurity?

Reenvisioning Learning for Students with Learning Differences

Opportunities for Expanded Learning Partnerships
Commentary authors
Amy Andersen
Tamara Clay
Heather DiFede
Summary

The aim of this commentary—released as part of a series on expanded learning partnerships and learning hubs in the context of the pandemic—is to provide actionable guidance for districts, schools, and expanded learning providers interested in best serving students in special education. We seek to answer the question: How can expanded learning be leveraged to support pandemic recovery, specifically for students with learning differences?

Expanded Learning Partnerships to Help Reinvent School for Upper Grade Students

Commentary authors
Robert Canosa-Carr
Brad Lupien
Summary

The aim of this commentary—released as part of a series on expanding learning partnerships and learning hubs in the context of the pandemic—is to provide actionable guidance for districts, schools, and expanded learning providers interested in best serving older youth. We seek to answer the question: How can expanded learning be leveraged to support pandemic recovery, specifically for older youth who risk becoming disengaged from school and are at higher risk of developing anxiety and depression?

Compassionate Partnerships for Youth in Foster Care

The Role of Expanded Learning
Commentary authors
Michelle Francois
Margaret Olmos
Summary

The aim of this commentary—released as part of a series on expanded learning partnerships and learning hubs in the context of the pandemic—is to provide actionable guidance for districts, schools, and expanded learning providers interested in best serving youth in the foster care system. We seek to answer the question: How can expanded learning be leveraged to support pandemic recovery, specifically as we look to serve the state’s nearly 60,000 youth in foster care?

COVID-19 and the Educational Equity Crisis

Evidence on Learning Loss From the CORE Data Collaborative
Summary

From the day California schools closed in March, researchers, policymakers, and educators alike have been concerned about the impact that the pandemic would have on student learning, and worried that our most vulnerable students will experience this so-called “learning loss” more than others. Given the critical importance of evidence to inform decision-making on school reopening, we are sharing early findings on student learning in Grades 4–10 in 18 school districts that are part of the CORE Data Collaborative. Our preliminary analysis shows that there has been significant learning loss in both English Language Arts and Math, with earlier grades, low-income students, and English learners most impacted.

Environmental Education and Nature-Rich Experiences

Essential for Youth and Community Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond
Commentary authors
Nicole M. Ardoin
Alison W. Bowers
Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic, which presents critical threats to education overall, also presents specific, potentially irreversible, and long-term threats to environmental education—an essential field that provides numerous cognitive, affective, and health-related benefits.

A Tiered Approach to Ensuring Students Are Present, Engaged, and Supported in the 2020–21 School Year

Commentary authors
Cecelia Leong
Summary

As schools begin this fall, educators across California are examining how they can promote students showing up for class, whether instruction is offered remotely or in person. In our previous PACE commentary, we made recommendations for expanding the metrics used to monitor daily attendance and participation in distance learning. In this commentary, we make recommendations for how educators can respond to student attendance data to ensure students get the support they need to be present and engaged in learning.

Measuring Daily Attendance and Participation During COVID-19

An Invaluable Tool for Reducing Educational Inequity
Commentary authors
Cecelia Leong
Summary

Absenteeism is a leading indicator of educational inequity. With COVID-19, taking daily attendance and monitoring absenteeism is essential as chronic absence is a key predictor of later learning loss and an early warning sign that positive conditions of learning are not in place for students. While taking attendance is more complicated in the context of distance learning, it is still possible—and necessary.

To Keep Students Safe and Learning, California Needs Strong State Leadership

Summary

In preparing for the next school year, California state policymakers must set clear statewide expectations for teaching, learning, and student support, regardless of whether instruction is online or in person. This spring, local school districts scrambled to adapt to COVID-19 with a wide range of responses largely focused on securing delivery of online resources. Now is the time to shift the conversation back to the core purpose of school: learning. The state should establish a minimum amount of instructional time; create an instrument of diagnostic assessment and require its use; adopt instructional continuity plans; and advocate for and secure additional funding.

Voices of Educators

Supporting Student Learning Amid the Pandemic Requires Prioritizing Social-Emotional Care
Commentary authors
Krista Fairley
Rebecca Norwood
Janice Phan
Cynthia Sanchez
Summary

The global pandemic and resulting economic devastation, not seen since the Great Depression, have underscored how schools are essential to the well-being of their communities. During this time of high stress, students are reporting anxiety, depression, and thoughts about hurting themselves, as well as increasing abuse. Moving from crisis triage to action guided by core principles that center student well-being is necessary but, to do so, social-emotional care is paramount, both for children and adults. For these reasons, our recommendations include reaching out to families, adjusting expectations, developing flexible guidelines, and investing in teachers’ professional development.

COVID-19’s Impact on English Learner Students

Possible Policy Responses
Commentary author
Summary

As an immensely diverse group of students, English learners (ELs) will have widely varying experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and thus a broad range of educational, physical, and mental health-related needs.This commentary offers recommendations for how policy can support ELs whether education is online, in person, or both.

Quality Matters More Than Ever in Times of Crisis

Does the California Quality Rating and Improvement System Predict Child Outcomes?
Commentary author
Summary

Quality Counts California rates program elements to assess overall program quality. But are we assessing the right dimensions of quality with measures that are predictive of children’s learning and development? In an era of restricted resources, it is critical that CA identify, measure, and deliver the dimensions of quality that actually matter for children.

What Comes Next for Professional Learning in the Time of COVID-19

Addressing the Social and Emotional Work of Improvement
Commentary author
Carrie Wilson
Summary

Students will begin next school year with highly diverse needs, which means educators will face huge demands for differentiation on shoestring budgets. A focus on cognitive science and adult learning, particularly on social and emotional capabilities, can help educators be self-aware and creative in developing strategies to better support students across the full range of their educational and psychological needs. To help students and educators succeed in this new and unpredictable environment, a clear focus on conditions for learning will be key.

Navigating the Education Budget Crisis Following COVID-19

How the State and Districts Can Make Smart Cuts
Commentary author
Michael Fine
Summary

California faces a massive budget gap next year due to reduced tax revenues, with schools expected to see a shortfall of $19 billion. Though there are proposals to impose across the board cuts, each district has different needs and resources that should be carefully assessed to come up with the best plan for each.

Understanding, Measuring, and Addressing Student Learning Needs During COVID-19 Recovery

Commentary author
Summary

Students re-entering the classroom following the COVID-19 crisis will likely experience severe learning loss and emotional challenges arising from their time out of school. Schools will need to develop tools for assessing students’ varied needs along with the resources, clear guidance, and flexibility to address them. This commentary is modified from testimony delivered to the California Assembly Budget Committee on April 28, 2020.

Moving Forward from COVID-19

Voters’ Opinions on Educational Equity Initiatives in California
Commentary author
Summary

COVID-19 and its concomitant school closures are affecting students in many ways; there is good reason to expect the pandemic will adversely impact educational equity. New PACE research uses data from the 2020 PACE/USC Rossier annual voter poll to report on CA voter attitudes towards educational equity policy initiatives. A majority of voters supported a focus on ending racial inequality in educational outcomes and specific initiatives to do so, suggesting that voters may also support a targeted approach to mitigating the pandemic’s adverse effects on CA students who have been hardest hit.

Why Funding California Schools Is Crucial to the State's COVID-19 Recovery

Transcript of CASBO Podcast
Commentary author
Summary

In this podcast (transcribed) for the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO), Heather Hough highlights research and perspectives related to the fundamental importance of public education, school funding levels and policies, and proactive approaches that should be on the table as California plans its recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

As Funding for Schools Plummets, California Leaders Face a Fiscal Reckoning

Commentary author
Summary

The coming months and years will be painful for the California economy in general and especially for school funding, which is overly dependent on volatile state tax revenues. California leaders should respond to this pandemic-induced fiscal crisis as a kickstart to finally reimagine and fully fund our schools—not just for this challenging moment but also for the future.