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  • Erica Peterson

Equity Coalition demands higher expectations

In case you missed it, EdSource recently reported calls for higher expectations in accountability due to massive learning losses in the distance-learning environment from parents, civil rights organizations and student advocacy groups across California.

Together these stakeholders dubbed the Equity Coalition are focused on the long-standing issues that have risen to the forefront through school closures: unfunded mandates, equity gaps, and the urgent need to address the exacerbation of achievement gaps for historically underserved student groups.

The Equity Coalition is calling for lawmakers to “set tighter standards and more oversight over distance learning” believing that the accountability bar for distance learning outcomes is too low.

While “ADA hold harmless” provisions may give flexibility as schools reopen, we cannot lose sight of the access and opportunity gaps that have widened into chasms and valleys for marginalized students. I urge every district to read between the lines and understand that failure to maintain or improve student outcomes for all means that OCR cases and FAPE lawsuits may be months away, possibly days. Below are key highlights of the article.

  • In return for calendar flexibility, two dozen civil rights organizations and student advocacy groups, collectively called the Equity Coalition, and parent groups in Los Angeles and the Bay Area are demanding that the Legislature set tighter standards and more oversight over distance learning. They’ve been critical of poor implementation of remote instruction and big gaps in technology and internet access in many school districts, particularly those serving low-income, Black and Latino students.

  • State Board of Education President, Linda Darling-Hammond, said that disparities among districts’ distance learning have created a “huge inequality.” Districts’ efforts to reach out to students have varied; as a result “some kids are going completely uneducated right now,” she said.

  • The Equity Coalition says districts should be required to develop “instructional continuity plans” in which districts would commit to:

    • Evaluate all students to determine how much learning loss and trauma they experienced during school closures.

    • Track students’ attendance and level of engagement daily.

    • Provide live or “synchronous” distance learning opportunities between teachers and all students.

    • Ensure “a full curriculum of substantially similar quality” regardless of whether in-school or by distance learning, with accommodations for English learners, special education students and students academically behind.

    • Help families to support their children in distance learning in the languages that parents speak.

  • “Commitments” require action. “Guidance” implies advice. Education groups are waiting to see how legislators and Newsom frame their document on distance learning, expected within days.


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