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 can contribute to a stronger education system designed to meet all students’ needs.

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.

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.

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.

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.

At Risk for School Failure

Students with Special Health Care Needs
Commentary authors
Dian Baker
Samantha Blackburn
Kathleen Hebbeler
Summary

Schools’ primary mission is the education of children. However, for over one million children in California with special health care needs (e.g., asthma, diabetes, food allergies), schools also must provide health services to ensure their safety and access to the curriculum. Students with special health care needs (SHCN) are at higher risk than their peers for missing school, repeating a grade, and dropping out. Yet in many cases, schools are not aware of students’ health conditions and do not monitor them as a group at risk for school failure.

An Educational Response for Students Learning Standard English

Commentary author
Summary

Raising the academic achievement of minority students represents an important educational goal for state policymakers, particularly in majority-minority states like California or Texas. In recent years, there has been increasing attention towards language variety as a potential explanation for lagging achievement observed among minority students and students of low socioeconomic status (SES). [Note: Language variety is often referred to as differences in dialect. In the study discussed here, the authors use the more neutral term language variety]. However, there is very little published literature to guide policymakers and administrators in formulating an appropriate educational response to language variety in schools.

Mental Health Services

A Cost-Effective Option for Increased Learning
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Summary

California has the lowest elementary school counselor-per-student ratio of any state; the majority of California’s elementary and middle schools do not offer any counselors.

Welcome to Conditions of Education in California

Commentary authors
Summary

For nearly 30 years PACE has worked to sponsor a productive conversation about the education policy choices facing California, by bringing academic research to bear on the key policy questions and challenges facing our state. We have done this in traditional ways, by publishing policy briefs and convening seminars and conferences in Sacramento and throughout California. For years PACE’s signature publication was Conditions of Education in California, which provided an annual compendium of data and analysis on the current state of California’s education system.