The survey conducted in April, was able to get 1400 respondents of the 1910 it reached out to. The majority were Spanish speaking women; however, the survey was representative of all CA students. Some of the findings were 1 in 3 students did not have an email address, 15% did not have internet, 1 in 3 parents did not have health insurance, however most students had access to health care, 93% did receive communication from teachers/schools, however 1/3 didn’t understand instructions, and 75% of households with special education students were not receiving adequate support!
PIQE (which this writer has worked with for over 15 years) held a Webinar where they shared results of survey, and spoke with CA State Superintendent, Tony Thurman, and CA State Assemblywoman, Dr. Shirley Weber about the results. Supt. Thurman said that he and his staff are working diligently to address the inequities in public education, especially those that affect low income, english learners, minority, and special education students. Thurman said that Gov. Newsom’s budget is expected to take a hit, but all is being done to minimize cuts to programs/services that directly impact the most vulnerable students.
Dr. Weber said that she is working on a commission with Supt. Thurman, and her colleagues in the legislature to address the challenges of educating students, during the pandemic. She also praised PIQE for still being around, which she had an opportunity to work with, and fund them back in the 90’s when she represented the San Diego area. Dr. Weber said that she has seen a lot of parent education/training organizations come and go and/or change their focus, but PIQE has endured, and kept it’s focus on educating and supporting families in helping their school aged children succeed in school. Dr. Weber also said that she is working in the legislature to reverse Prop. 209 that banned Affirmative Action in the public-school system, public employment, and public contracting.
And finally, what is one of the ways to systemically address the need for a treatment(s) and vaccine to COVID-19? The federal and state governments are saying they will need thousands of new workers, to conduct “contact tracing” of persons who have tested positive for coronavirus. This act will speed up the process to mitigate and control the spread of the virus, as well as put many out of work people back into the work force, contributing to the stimulus of the economy.
Well legislators (and others) here is a way to use parents of students in a manner that would boost and support student learning, and put thousands of parents back to work, while stimulating the economy. Hire parents as “education assistants” (or any agreed upon title) to support classroom teachers. Let’s face it….with all CA students currently receiving instruction online, and schools expecting to continue distance learning for many of it’s students, even when schools do re-open, it makes sense to utilize parents, who stand to benefit when their students receive adequate support from another human, as true partners in education.
It is a win-win-win…. schools receive support from home, parents receive income, and the economy gets a boost. In addition, parents can help schools with the social and emotional developments of students, especially at this critical time of isolation. Of course, not all parents/guardians will be a good match for this type of work – but thousands could participate in such an initiative!
Now, this idea which I have been advocating for over 10 years is innovative, and bold, but now the current crisis demands that legislators, policy makers, service providers, families, and others work even closer together, with a laser focus attention, to solutions that systemically, and adequately address the needs, and inequities in public education.
What do you think?