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Thursday, November 19, 2020

'State-sanctioned segregation': California’s school closure debate boils over

'State-sanctioned segregation': California’s school closure debate boils over
'State-sanctioned segregation': California’s school closure debate boils over

SACRAMENTO — Pandemic politics have reached a boiling point in California’s school reopening debate.

A hands-off approach by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and public pressure from powerful labor unions has led the state’s biggest city districts to keep schools shuttered, leaving most of California’s 6 million public schoolchildren learning at home. Even San Francisco, which has had one of the lowest infection rates for any U.S. city, hasn’t attempted in-person teaching.
As the pandemic wears on, more Democrats are sounding the alarm after staying silent earlier this fall. They are increasingly distressed that California's approach has widened the gap between low-income communities of color and wealthier white families.

Frustrations hit a new level in October, when Newsom said his own children had returned to private school in Sacramento — while public school students in the surrounding neighborhoods remained home. Now leaders in the governor's own party are turning on him, saying the status quo has left the state with crisis-level inequity.

California's system amounts to "state-sanctioned segregation," Patrick O'Donnell (D-Long Beach), the chair of the state Assembly Education Committee, said in an interview — a frank declaration for a Democrat consistently supported by the California Teachers Association.

“Some kids get to go and some don’t. That's not what California stands for," he said. “I think we need to move faster but remain thoughtful.”

California's experience could shed light on the complications Democratic President-elect Joe Biden will face in the coming months as he encounters more calls from parents and elected officials to help the growing number of students struggling with distance learning.

It's possible that labor unions and parents will have more confidence in a CONTINUE READING: 'State-sanctioned segregation': California’s school closure debate boils over