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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Our Children’s Education Should be a Priority as California Recovers from Coronavirus

Commentary author
Summary

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed California and the nation into uncharted waters, especially with the impact on our schools. With the economy in decline and unemployment on the rise, school funding is likely to dip, triggering cuts across the system. This financial impact will come when our schools need more money, not less, to serve our state’s children. As we look toward recovery, Californians should make the kind of significant investments in our public schools that reflect their true importance to our students, families and future.

Evidence to Inform Recovery

PACE’s Response to COVID-19
Summary

The closing of California’s physical learning spaces has significant implications for educational equity and access. In the coming weeks and months, PACE’s efforts will be focused on supporting real-time crisis response and helping the state build toward recovery. This commentary, the first in a new series designed to raise up evidence quickly to inform crisis response and recovery, details our approach.