California Educator

April/May 2020

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CALIFORNIA EDUCATOR: What con- cerns did you want to share about teaching in a pandemic? KREITZ: The key for me, especially as a special education teacher, is having equity of access, so that every kid has access to quality educational opportunities in what is becoming our new normal. It was very import- ant to convey that concern, and it was well-received and acknowledged by the governor and his first partner. UDOVIC: We wanted to make sure the governor is fully aware of how deep the needs are in some communities, like Oakland, and that we worry about furthering huge inequities that already exist when it comes to technology and the ability to access curriculum and connec- tivity. Our school district is facing massive budget cuts due to gross mismanagement of funds. Before coronavirus, discretionary funds were cut at each school site by 50 percent, and we're required to use discretionary funds to purchase tech- nology and digital learning platforms. It is very difficult to purchase these things when we are already facing a huge budget shortfall. DUNCAN: Olivia, you are on point talking about access — especially when you have students living in shel- ters or in cars, where internet access is a huge issue. My district has 800 hotspots and 20,000 students, and I expressed concerns about how we are going to give every kid access and how we can be equitable when we might not have enough service. We have great teachers creating great lesson plans, but if kids don't have access, it doesn't matter. Gavin did address that; he said Google is going to help the state with this. COLLINS: One of the biggest things we discussed is underlying inequities and the importance of funding. We need to fund meaningful professional development, because many teachers are new at online learning, although I come from a school that has already successfully implemented it. And we need to fund special education. KREITZ: Yes, funding special edu- cation is crucial. A lot of students with moderate to severe disabilities lack the physical ability to turn on machines, so how do parents help support and implement programs we have in the school day from 8 to 3? How do we implement special services beyond the classroom such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavior support services and psychological services? How do you implement assessment of kids looking through a computer screen? It's definitely a challenge and concern in the special education world. In my district, we have tabled assessments. Right now, we are focusing on their social and emotional needs. COLLINS: For social and emotional needs, we discussed the importance of wraparound services including access to counselors and social workers, because students are going through a lot right now. I'm using Canvas Learning Management Platform, which has a video com- ponent. Some students show their faces and I can see that many are depressed, so they need access to counseling and emotional support services. I shared with the governor and first partner that my seniors have a very high level of trepidation, stress and uncertainty. Many are receiving acceptances to college and now they don't know if they will be able go away or if parents can even afford college. Many of our students will need scholarships, because their parents can't work. DUNCAN: Personally, I've never had a year like this year with so much active trauma in the classroom. I've had students in homes with domestic violence, students who were abused, deportations, foster kids being moved from one home to another. Knowing all these things are happen- ing to my kids and not being able to do a daily check-in with them to know if they are OK is difficult. I brought up the importance of helping kids get support they need through streaming with their counselors right away if they need it. UDOVIC: One of the issues we raised is asking the governor to con- tinue maintaining communication with educators and people working at the ground level who are doing the teaching. We want to make sure the "asks" and the requirements that will be put into place with distance learning from the state are in alignment with what we are able to do. We asked him to "We discussed the importance of wraparound services including access to counselors and social workers, because students are going through a lot right now." —Kyna Collins, United Teachers Los Angeles 19 A P R I L / M AY 2 0 2 0

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