Thursday, April 15, 2021

New Equity Bill Levels Educational Playing Field + 2021 Model School Attendance Review Board Winners - Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

New Equity Bill Levels Educational Playing Field - Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)
New Equity Bill to Level the Educational Playing Field Advances with Bipartisan Senate Education Committee Support

SACRAMENTO—New legislation designed to lift up some of the lowest-performing school districts in California—sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and authored by Senator Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara)—received bipartisan approval from the California State Senate Committee on Education today, providing a pathway to help close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color.

Senate Bill (SB) 540, which heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee to be heard later this month, will establish a grant program to provide additional targeted assistance to 10 low-performing school districts with identified opportunity gaps for students of color.

“While there are hopeful signs as more and more students return to classrooms, it is important to remember that the inequities that existed before this crisis have only been deepened by this incredibly challenging time,” State Superintendent Thurmond said. “SB 540 will allow the California Department of Education to invest in 10 of the highest-need school districts through an aggressive three-year funding package that focuses on equity coaching and intervention, professional development, and family engagement strategies. We cannot to let students already at a disadvantage slip further behind because of our failure to invest in these schools.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the educational disparities that exist among school districts. SB 540 begins to address the equity gaps that exist in our education system and provide the proper resources to make sure that students, especially those in low-income and communities of color, do not fall behind,” said Senator Limón.

The equity gaps that have existed in the educational system are systemic and long-standing. Research shows that on average, Black students attend schools that are 48 percent Black, while white students attend schools that are only 9 percent Black. By the time Black children enter high school, they are often more than four academic years behind their white counterparts. Suspensions for African American children are approximately three to five times higher than for white children. In the United States, by age 24, only 78 percent of Latinos and 87 percent of Blacks have earned a high school diploma compared to 94 percent of whites. The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened these disparities.

SB 540 would allocate grants of $1.25 million to each of the 10 highest-need school districts for the 2021–22 fiscal year and the following two fiscal years. This key investment in underserved California students will urgently and immediately provide assistance to recover and help schools build the structures to accelerate learning for students and to support families hardest hit by a global pandemic.

More information on SB 540 can be found on the California Legislative Information bill analysis websiteExternal link opens in new window or tab..

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that 20 school attendance review boards (SARBs) have been designated as model programs in California for their attendance strategies during distance learning. The announcement of these Model SARB Awards comes after an unprecedented disruption of in-person attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These 19 school districts and one county office of education created exemplary plans and worked hard to follow through on them to help students stay engaged in their education—all during the unprecedented closure of our schools due to a global pandemic,” said Thurmond. “Many of these same great attendance strategies will also be crucial for student success as even more schools reopen for safe in-person attendance in the near future.”

The Model SARB Award winners, which include 19 school districts and one county office of education, implemented Learning Continuity and Attendance Plans that focused on these four approaches to meeting the needs of students during distance learning:

  1. Shifting staff roles and responsibilities to meet the needs of distance learning students.
  2. Supporting virtual attendance of pupils with unique needs.
  3. Providing for the mental health and well-being of students during distance learning.
  4. Pupil and family engagement and outreach.

As an example, Long Beach Unified School District is a Model SARB because its attendance strategies focus on quality interactions with families and students to promote improved attendance. This includes looking at students’ and families’ unique needs and providing personalized supports to remove barriers to attendance. SARB members are assigned follow-up with each referred family to provide materials, asynchronous work assignments, and links to community resources. SARB members also connect with community partners to ensure that families have access to timely and quality services. By working with the family and community as partners for children, Long Beach Unified’s SARB provides families with a supportive and empowering experience.

State Superintendent Thurmond annually convenes the State’s School Attendance Review Board, which brings together key agencies and community partners to score applications submitted by district and county SARBs throughout the state.

The Model SARBs will be recognized publicly and information about their strategies will be shared at the State SARB meeting on April 15, 2021, and at the annual state conference of the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance on April 27, 2021.

Below is a list of the recognized school districts and county office of education and their Model SARB chairperson:

  • Alhambra Unified School District, Lindsey Ma
  • Alvord Unified School District, Ian Fish
  • Centinela Valley Union High School District, Vanessa Landesfeind
  • Centralia Elementary School District, Dr. Stacy Chang
  • Corona-Norco Unified School District, John Reynoso
  • Fontana Unified School District, Jose Barzaga
  • Glendale Unified School District, Dr. Ilin Magran
  • Hacienda la Puente Unified School District, Cynthia Cabello
  • Jurupa Unified School District, Olga Lidia Alferez
  • Kern High School District, Erin Rader
  • Lake Elsinore Unified School District, Steve Behar
  • Long Beach Unified School District, Claudia Sosa-Valderrama
  • Murrieta Valley Unified School District, Katherine Wood
  • Pittsburg Unified School District, Dr. ReJois Fraziers-Myers
  • Romoland School District, Carmen Kaas
  • Sanger Unified School District, Johnny P. Gonzalez
  • Santa Ana Unified School District, Jackie Sanchez
  • Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools, Rob Egger
  • Val Verde Unified School District, Thomas Gronotte
  • William S. Hart Union High School District, Erum Velek

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100