CHHSA Releases Master Plan for Early Learning and Care: California For All Kids

The California Health and Human Services Agency has released the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care: California For All Kids.

The Plan will help the state better understand the crisis families, children and early learning and care providers are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic and identifies key policy goals to ensure that all California children can thrive physically, emotionally and educationally in their early years through access to high-quality early learning and care programs.

These goals include universal preschool, enhanced workforce development and equitable career pathways for educators and caregivers, and funding reforms to promote equitable access to high-quality early learning and care.

You can find get a quick overview of the plan and download the full report at https://californiaforallkids.chhs.ca.gov.

You can read the official press release here.

Webinar: Navigating a Safe Return to In-Person Instruction – Dec. 10, 2020

CCEE will be hosting a statewide webinar this Thursday, December 10th from 4:45pm-5:30pm titled Navigating a Safe Return to In-Person Instruction: A Conversation with State Public Health Leaders.

During the webinar, state public health leaders and educators will share the latest insights and related guidance for K-12 schools, as state public health leaders share information regarding Governor Newsom’s Regional Stay-At-Home Order.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency and Dr. Erica Pan, Acting State Public Health Officer of the California Department of Public Health will be discussing how local educational agencies can continue to safely bring students back for in-person instruction under the Elementary School Waiver Process or Cohorting Guidance.

Click here to learn more, or click here to register.

State Board of Education Approves Shorter Standardized Tests to Give Schools Flexibility Amidst COVID-19 Uncertainties

The following November 6 press release is from the California Department of Education:

SACRAMENTO — The State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved the use of shorter standardized tests in English language arts and math this spring, creating a path for collecting critical student data amidst COVID-19 uncertainties.

The Board’s action also recognizes the need for innovative solutions to support students, schools and districts as they confront myriad challenges associated with the pandemic.

“Our schools and educators need flexibility, options, and ongoing support as they continue to navigate tremendous challenges and collect data across multiple measures to fully understand student learning,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Like other states, California is required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act to assess student learning as a condition of receiving certain federal funds. In a letter to state education chiefs, the U.S. Department of Education indicated they would not currently consider a waiver and that states should prepare to administer tests in the spring.

The State Board’s approval of shorter Smarter Balanced assessments in English language arts and math for grades 3–8 and 11 reflects California’s commitment to supporting schools by providing testing options.

The shorter assessments will reduce student testing time, which now takes from seven to eight hours in total. Guidance regarding test administration will include flexible options to meet the unique contexts of each district or school.

The tests will cover all academic standards, which describe what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. Spring testing will provide the first statewide snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on student learning.

“Because we have been supporting and encouraging districts to use formative and diagnostic assessments this fall, schools will have data to guide individual student learning. Meanwhile, a shorter summative test can provide a more manageable way to offer district and state-level information in these unpredictable times,” said State Board President Linda Darling-Hammond.

Now that the shorter tests are approved, CDE will work closely with districts and charter schools to strategize test administration, ensure student participation, and communicate with families.

Click here to read this press release on the CDE website.

Guidance Document for School Reopenings and Waivers for In-Person Instruction

PTA recently created a document that provides helpful guidance on two related issues that many of you may be facing right now: school re-openings and waivers for in-person elementary instruction. To read the document in its entirety, click here.

California State PTA’s “School Reopening Principles” are based on our organizational goals and purposes, input from our local leaders and from our parent listening sessions last summer, our longstanding educational and legislative stances, and the most current information from reliable educational and health agencies. We encourage local PTAs and school districts to adhere to these principles during important conversations regarding school reopening.

Waiver Applications for Elementary School In-Person Instruction have become a difficult issue for local PTAs and the guidelines and explanation released today are intended to help local PTA leaders navigate this issue. By way of background: School districts in certain counties, which would otherwise be prohibited from allowing in-person instruction due to the COVID-19 category they are in, have the option of applying for a waiver to reopen for elementary grades. If the waiver application meets all the criteria, the county department of health can approve in-person instruction.

By state policy, the school district has to consult with parent organizations before submitting a waiver application. In Los Angeles County, the Department of Public Health has even made it a requirement to attach a letter of support from parent organizations (and also all employee associations and others). Other counties may be doing that as well.

This has led to many PTAs being pressured to write letters of support for their school districts to reopen for younger grades. This puts PTAs in an untenable position. Not only does it unfairly force PTAs to essentially reduce all parent/family input on a complex and nuanced issue into a single “yes” or “no” position, but it also puts PTAs at risk of liability for having officially supported in-person instruction.

The decisions facing schools, PTAs, and families on important issues of educational opportunity and health are complex, and we hope that California State PTA’s Principles for School Reopening and our guidance on waiver applications will assist you with these crucial conversations.

Scholarships & Grants

Scholarships

To help you continue on your educational path, California State PTA is proud to offer several scholarship programs.

Click here to learn more about Continuing Education scholarships for adult PTA members, and about scholarships for graduating seniors.

The deadline to apply for both is October 1, 2020.

 

Program grants

Grants are awarded to local PTAs to support efforts that build and grow student achievement, parent engagement and family involvement to make a difference in your community.

Click here to learn about the different types of program grants, eligibility requirements, and the application procedure.

The deadline to apply for program grants is October 1, 2020.

Read the PACE Policy Brief on School Reopening

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), in cooperation with California State PTA, produced “Navigating the Uncertainty of Reopening Schools: A Guide for Parents, Families and the Public.” This report summarizes the current state of knowledge about key issues, and suggests a set of questions that parents and educators should ask when considering plans for reopening during the pandemic. This summary infographic serves as a valuable handout for community discussions.

“This report informs parents and helps raise important questions about health, equity, social-emotional issues, and effective teaching and learning,” said Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA. “We hope that it will prompt discussions among all concerned as to when and how to conduct schooling during the pandemic.”

Final Report on PTA-CCEE Distance Learning “Listening Sessions”

In May 2020 California State PTA partnered with the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) to provide professional learning network services by offering three listening sessions to our primary stakeholders: parents/guardians, PTA leaders and educators.

Engagement of our stakeholders throughout each listening session was very high and the conversations were intense. Parents especially had a lot to say. They clearly needed an outlet where they could share their worries, ask questions, and find compassion. While distance learning and school reopening were the topics of greatest concern, common themes emerged through each session: communication and family engagement; social emotional health and well-being; and care for our most vulnerable children. Our stakeholders’ voices make clear how difficult the last few months have been for families and how vital it is that families are included in decisions about their children’s education.

California State PTA and CCEE compiled a report that analyzes the lessons learned from the listening sessions. The report details what we heard from families regarding their experiences during the first months of the pandemic and their concerns going forward. It also identifies available resources that address the needs and concerns of parents, and offers recommendations on how to support parents and families as schools navigate decision-making during this challenging time.

To read or download the complete report, click here.

To listen to recordings of the listening sessions, click here.

 

Help Your Child Succeed in Math with “Discover Math Together”

You don’t have to be a “math person” to help your child be successful at mathematics!

During our “Discover Math Together” virtual learning series this summer, Alex Kajitani, California Teacher of the Year and “The Rappin’ Mathematician,” will lead three sessions that will give parents the confidence, knowledge, and strategies to help their children succeed in math!

Here are the remaining dates, times, and registration details:

  • Session II – Engaging & Amazing Resources for Learning Math Online: Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 4:30-5:30 pm
    This fun-filled session gives parents tips and resources that they can use with their children to learn math, remotely, or any way. Explore and play with some great resources that you can use immediately with your own kids, from virtual manipulatives to engaging websites and videos.
  • Session III – Ten Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Succeed in Math (Even If They Don’t Consider Themselves a “Math Person”): Wednesday, August 5, 2020, 4:30-5:30 pm
    In this session Alex offers a fun and engaging look at how we can help our kids get excited about math, and see the value of it in their own lives.

Click the following Zoom link to register for any or all of the sessions: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIpdu2hrjsoHdR3fK1JHCdWmLleRZ6kV2QW

About Alex Kajitani: Alex is the 2009 California Teacher of the Year, and a Top-4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year. He is known around the world as “The Rappin’ Mathematician,” and was featured on The CBS Evening News, where Katie Couric exclaimed, “I LOVE that guy!” Alex is also on a mission to get every kid in America to learn their times tables, and to make this happen, he created the wildly popular online program www.MultiplicationNation.com.

YOUR VOICE MATTERS – TAKE THE LCAP LANDSCAPE ASSESSMENT SURVEY

California State PTA is developing a training program to help districts, schools, and families learn more about the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process and to strengthen home-school partnerships to support student success and school improvement.

To ensure that the content of our program meets the needs of a school community, we want to hear from families, educators and community leaders as key stakeholders across California.

That’s where you come in – your voice is important and makes a difference! Please complete this brief survey (no more than 10 minutes) to share your thoughts and experiences with California State PTA. You can either click here, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H7LVX23, or scan the QR code to the right.

Please know that this survey is anonymous, so no personal information will be collected. It is available in nine languages. You do not need to be a PTA member to participate.

Thank you for sharing your perspective and feedback so students can thrive in school and beyond!

Hear recordings of our online “Listening Sessions” from June 17 and June 25

California State PTA recently held several interactive online networking sessions, hosted by President-Elect Carol Green, where we discussed distance learning and the challenges of parenting during the pandemic. We shared resources and best practices, and learned from parents and guardians what works for you, and what has proved the most challenging.

June 17 – “Connecting with PTA Leaders”

If you’d like to watch a recording of this session, click here.

GUEST PANELISTS: Michael Morgan, Vice President for Membership Services; Mariaelena Huizar, Vice President for Health and Community Concerns; and Otis Cross, Chairman of District Presidents and California Principals who work with PTAs.

June 25 – “Family Engagement — Supporting families and schools during challenging times”

If you’d like to watch a recording of this session, click here.

GUEST PANELISTS: Lisa Borrego, Director of Family Engagement and Partnership Development for San Juan Unified School District, and Marín Trujillo, Coordinator of Community Engagement for West Contra Costa Unified School District.