August 6, 2020 | Los Angeles Times

Many teachers, students and their families can agree on one thing after experiencing the unexpected hurricane that was distance learning this spring: It must improve—especially in the earliest grades, transitional kindergarten through second grade. Our youngest students, from ages 4...

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

Commentary author

PACE Executive Director Heather Hough cautions that COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted California's education system, highlighting the state's low funding and the substantial financial shortfall necessary to meet educational objectives. Recent research indicates a need for an additional $26.5 billion annually in K–12 education to reach state achievement goals. Decades of underinvestment have left districts financially vulnerable, compounded by the economic challenges triggered by the crisis. The dependence on personal earnings for school funding could result in severe cuts, impacting critical student services and potentially leading to layoffs. School closures have underscored their role beyond education, serving as community hubs crucial for student well-being, safety, and essential services. The pandemic exacerbates existing inequalities in learning opportunities among California students. The urgent call is to recognize schools as central to communities and the state's well-being, emphasizing the necessity for significant post-crisis investments in public education as a priority for California's recovery.

Evidence to Inform Recovery

PACE’s Response to COVID-19

COVID-19's closure of California's educational institutions has profoundly impacted learning, equity, and access. Efforts now concentrate on remote learning support, essential non-instructional services, and aiding students with special needs. PACE seeks to bolster these initiatives, gather best practices, and provide real-time research for informed decision-making. Anticipating challenges upon students' return, especially those facing trauma, PACE plans to focus on data collection, student support, system capacity, and resource allocation. This includes addressing learning loss, supporting vulnerable populations, fostering engagement, integrating services across agencies, and seeking adequate funding amid economic strains. PACE intends to employ diverse approaches—reviewing existing research, collecting new data, testing innovations, and analyzing policy options—to aid educators, policymakers, and the public in navigating this crisis and leveraging education for recovery