California State PTA Statement Denouncing Violence Against Asian Americans

SACRAMENTO, March 29, 2021 – California State PTA has released the following statement in response to the recent attacks in Atlanta, as well as the ongoing violence towards Asian Americans in California and nationwide.

“California State PTA condemns the Georgia shootings and the recent violence against Asian Americans in our country,” said Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA. “Our association stands firmly against racism in all forms and denounces all racial violence.”

“It is critical that we rise to correct inequities and injustices. California State PTA and our constituent associations remain committed to improving diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our association, schools, and communities and to ensuring the safety, well-being and future of every child and family.”

“We can build a better future for all of our children when we unite as a community, intentionally acknowledging how race, culture, and languages spoken are assets in improving the lives of all children and families.”

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About California State PTA: California State PTA connects families, schools and communities. We are part of the foundation of our public education system and a trusted messenger to millions of members, parents, families, educators and allied agencies throughout the state. PTA is the nation’s largest volunteer-led child-advocacy association working to drive improvements in the education, health and well-being of all children and families. For more information, visit www.capta.org.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Heather Ippolito
Vice President for Communications
communications@capta.org

Ignacio Barragan
Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org
916.440.1985

California State PTA Supports Postponing the Administration of the CAASPP Tests

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond
California State Board of Education
1430 N Street, Room 5111
Sacramento, CA 95814
Email – sbe@cde.ca.gov

RE: Agenda Item 2

Dear Dr. Darling-Hammond and Members of the State Board of Education:

California State PTA supports postponing the administration of the CAASPP tests until the start of the 2021-22 school year. Such a decision would balance our competing concerns by acknowledging the current uncertainties related to school reopening while best serving all of California’s children. In particular, we believe that assessment aligned with content standards provides important information that can be used to identify and address inequities in access to learning opportunities. Such information is of particular importance in the current context.

Our organization agrees with many of the points made by Children Now, EdTrust West and their advocacy partners. Those include the importance of gathering as much information as possible for understanding the toll that distance learning has taken on California’s students. To reiterate from the letter they have submitted:

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting implementation of distance learning has taken a significant toll on California’s students, and we have scant information to understand the impact of these extreme circumstances. Moreover, we know students who were already marginalized before the pandemic have been disproportionately impacted by the negative aspects of distance learning and COVID-19. School and district leaders, students, parents and community members need as much information as possible to better understand these impacts and develop solutions centering the needs of these students. …

“During these times of academic uncertainty, it is even more important that parents have a clear understanding of their children’s academic status based on the state’s standards, especially compared with other students in their school, district, and in the state. Without these assessments, parents may have very little information about what their children’s academic needs are and how to best serve them. Families should also receive test reports with clear guidance about how to interpret and use the results to advocate for their children.”

However, we find the concerns from our state’s educators are also compelling. We share the worry that a statewide test administration this spring – while students’ schooling experiences are so varied between in-person, hybrid and remote instruction – is fraught with issues. Those issues include the likelihood of low participation rates and the challenges of administering the tests in a manner that produces valid results. We also find compelling their concerns that this year has already resulted in too much lost instructional time and testing this spring would just exacerbate that.

Therefore, our organization supports the idea of postponing rather than cancelling the summative assessments. Moving the test administration into the start of the 2021-22 school year would address many of the concerns about test validity and participation without completely abandoning this important measure of student progress..

Indeed, in his foreword to a January 2021 report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Fordham’s president Michael Petrelli validates this idea, saying “States should shift the spring 2021 assessments to fall 2021 when schools reopen. This will allow them to compute those all-important student growth measures for the 2019–21 period, plus establish a baseline for student progress during the 2021–22 school year.”

We understand from the CDE that the summative tests have limitations in terms of their use as diagnostic assessments and that the fall administration of the tests would create logistical challenges for local districts as some students will have changed schools or even districts. We are not oblivious to those challenges, but rather believe that they are outweighed by the benefits to student learning that would result from having a test-based assessment of where all of California’s students stand as “regular school” resumes. The shortened test blueprint helps to make this a reasonable approach while providing much needed clarity regarding students’ progress learning grade level content standards.

As the California Department of Education says in its own current guidance for parents related to the CAASPP tests:

  • Summative assessments are critical, now more than ever, to providing administrators and teachers with high-quality student and school achievement data to track potential learning loss in order to inform teaching and learning.
  • Statewide summative assessments are an essential component of an equitable, valid, and balanced assessment system, especially amid the disruption caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. They help provide actionable data for improvements and targeting supports to students most in need.

We also want to state for the record our support for the State Board’s prior decision to not use the 2021 state assessments for accountability purposes.

Thank you for the opportunity to give our input.

For more information, please contact:
Mary Perry,
California State PTA, Liaison to the State Board of Education
mperry@capta.org

cc: Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Brooks Allen, Executive Director, SBE; Rachael Maves, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, CDE; and Dr. Mao Vang, Director of Assessment Development and Administration Division, CDE.

California State PTA’s Response to Agreement on School Reopening Reached by Legislature and Governor

SACRAMENTO, March 4, 2021 – Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA, has issued a statement on behalf of California State PTA’s 700,000 members in response to legislation passed today regarding the spring reopening of schools.

“California State PTA is strongly committed to the safe reopening of schools. We appreciate the cooperation between the Governor and Legislature in finalizing a spring agreement to incentivize in-person instruction. Resources for health and safety precautions as well as prioritized funding to address learning loss and the social and emotional needs of students are critical. We continue to urge policymakers, boards of education, and school and district administrators to reach out to and communicate with parents and families as they develop and implement safety and reopening plans. We stand ready to assist as PTA is a partner on schools campuses statewide.”

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About California State PTA: California State PTA connects families, schools and communities. We are part of the foundation of our public-education system and a trusted messenger to millions of members, parents, families, educators and allied agencies throughout the state. PTA is the nation’s largest volunteer-led child-advocacy association working to drive improvements in the education, health and well-being of all children and families. For more information: www.capta.org.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Heather Ippolito
Vice President for Communications
communications@capta.org

Ignacio Barragan
Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org
916.440.1985

10 Things California State PTA Recommends for the Safe Reopening of Schools

California State PTA is writing on behalf of the children and families of California who want to see their children return to school as soon as it is safe to do so. It has been almost a year since California closed its school campuses and our children are falling behind academically and their mental health is suffering. We ask the Legislature and the Governor to work together on a coordinated plan that incorporates our recommendations for a safe reopening.

Ten Recommendations

We urge the Legislature and the Governor to adopt 10 recommendations for the timely and safe reopening of schools.

  1. Coordinate Efforts The Legislature and the Governor must agree on a coordinated approach to reopening schools as quickly as safely possible.
  2. Equitable Sufficient Funding There must be sufficient funding to cover the additional costs related to opening schools in person. And it must be equitable. All students should generate the same base funding grant with an LCFF adjustment that recognizes the impacts of the pandemic on disadvantaged students. Opening schools will require social emotional support for students and staff, and services to meet students’ and families’ needs including safe transportation for students.
  3. Extra Funding for Health-Related Costs Funding to pay for testing, vaccines, contact tracing, and other COVID-related health costs should not be from Proposition 98 funds. Every Proposition 98 dollar spent on non-instructional costs is one less dollar to educate our children.
  4. Protect the Health and Wellbeing of Students, Staff and Families The Governor, the Legislature and local governments must prioritize vaccinations for school staff, early childhood educators and childcare staff, especially those who are already working in-person.
  5. Parent Communication and Input School districts must provide opportunities for robust input and feedback as they prepare and execute reopening plans. They must ensure parents representing the diversity of the community are included in decision-making.
  6. In-Person Attendance Parents and families should be able to choose whether a child returns to school in-person depending on the health of the child and their family situation.
  7. Mental Health Matters Support the mental health and wellbeing of our students and staff by providing adequate resources to support their individual needs. To protect student health and well-being, middle schools should not start before 8:00 am and high schools before 8:30 am.
  8. Expanded Learning and Learning Loss Afterschool, summer school and childcare programs need to be available, fully funded and coordinated with the school day. All schools should develop programs to address learning loss and meet the needs of the whole child.
  9. Follow Health Guidelines Schools should not open in person unless it is safe for students and staff. School districts should adhere to the requirements set forth by the California Department of Public Health and county health departments regarding the reopening of schools.
  10. Realistic Timeline Any timeline for the reopening of schools should consider the needs of parents and teachers and respect the most accurate health guidelines. This includes making sure the school facility is safe for re-opening.

Schools need to open as soon as practically possible while protecting the health and well-being of students, staff and families. California’s students are counting on the Legislature and the Governor to come up with a realistic school reopening plan that meets the needs of all our school communities.

This statement was adopted by the Board of Managers on Feb. 20, 2021.

To download a PDF version of this statement, click here.

California Alliance for Arts Education & Create CA Merger Partner Announcement

Exciting news: our partners Create CA and ArtsEd411 are merging! Through the coming months, they will integrate and combine efforts as California’s largest organization working to ensure every student has access to a full and relevant arts education. The statement below was released by Create CA and CAAE on February 11, 2021.

We know that arts education helps students heal from trauma and build resilience. This moment requires us to put student’s mental health and well-being at the forefront. That’s why we are thrilled to see our friends and partners at California Alliance for Arts Education (the Alliance) and Create CA seizing an opportunity to become stronger in the fight for every student’s right to receive an arts education by merging their organizations.

This merger builds on a longstanding partnership and unites them in their shared mission to make sure that a quality arts education is part of every student’s life.

Operating together under the Create CA name, they will combine the power of Create CA’s dynamic communications and innovative data project with the Alliance’s proven policy and advocacy track record and statewide network supporting districts and counties to provide a full arts education to all students. They recognize that students who are low income and of color face the greatest barriers to a full and relevant arts education. Collectively, they will continue to fight for students to get what they need and deserve, because ultimately they know this is an equity issue.

Together, they have the opportunity to reimagine the entire school system – centering student’s social and emotional needs, defeating systemic racism and making sure that arts education is part of every student’s life. By coming together, they’ll go farther faster in insisting that arts education is a student right.

With the stakes higher than ever, we’re so excited about what they will do together.

California State PTA Op-Ed: “Listen Up – 10 Things We Need to Do to Reopen Schools Safely

SACRAMENTO, February 8, 2021 – Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA, has issued an opinion piece on behalf of California State PTA’s 700,000 members in which she urges the Governor to adopt 10 key recommendations for the timely and safe reopening of schools.

“Schools need to open as soon as practically possible while protecting the health and well-being of students, staff and families,” Jaffe says in the piece, which prioritizes equitable, sufficient funding to cover reopening costs, robust school-parent communication, and expanded learning programs to address learning loss over the last 10 months.

“Not only are children falling behind academically, but the social isolation and fears of illness and death are taking an enormous toll on their emotional health. California’s students are counting on the legislature and the governor to come up with a realistic school reopening plan that meets the needs of all our school communities.”

To read the op-ed in its entirety, please visit the California State PTA blog at https://capta.org/listen-up-10-things-we-need-to-do-to-reopen-schools-safely/.

If you have questions or wish to publish the op-ed in your publication(s), please get in touch with one of the media contacts listed below.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Heather Ippolito
Vice President for Communications
communications@capta.org

Ignacio Barragan
Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org
916.440.1985

About California State PTA: California State PTA connects families, schools and communities. We are part of the foundation of our public-education system and a trusted messenger to millions of members, parents, families, educators and allied agencies throughout the state. PTA is the nation’s largest volunteer-led child-advocacy association working to drive improvements in the education, health and well-being of all children and families. For more information: www.capta.org

PTA Update for Members on Proposed 2021-2022 California Budget

This article was written by Carol Kocivar, California State PTA’s Legislative Advocate.

The proposed California budget for next year targets significant funding to help children, youth and families recover from the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. This includes more money for housing, health, small businesses, low income families and education.

While the budget picture is unexpectedly rosy this year, projections are for lean years ahead. Because of this, the budget also socks away money for a rainy day to avoid deep cuts in future years.

Investments in Education

The Governor proposes to use some of this year’s economic windfall for three big education priorities

Pay Down Deferrals

What does this mean? Last year, the state did not have enough money to pay schools the full amount of money they were owed. So they delayed making full payments to schools for the year. This is called a deferral. Last year’s budget deferred $12.5 billion in payments to schools and community colleges. The Governor proposes to pay down $8.4 billion of this in 2021-22. Slightly more than $4 billion would remain deferred until 2022-23.

Money to Open Schools and Expanded Learning

The budget proposes one-time grants totaling $2 billion to help schools offer in-person instruction. These grants can be used for:

  1. Salaries for certificated or classified employees providing in-person instruction or services
  2. Social and mental health support services provided in conjunction with in-person instruction
  3. COVID-19 testing
  4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  5. Ventilation and other site upgrades necessary for health and safety

Education organizations want funding for health, safety and testing to be paid with non Prop 98 funds, such as federal money.

Also in the budget is $4.6 billion in grants for additional academic support targeting disadvantaged students. This could include summer school, longer school days, community learning hubs, and other locally developed interventions. Expanded learning is a long-time PTA priority.

Cost of Living Adjustment

Last year there was not enough money to pay for an increase in the cost of living for education. This year the state is making up for this by giving a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) of $2.2 billion ongoing.

Other Education Investments

K-12 per-pupil spending is projected to increase from $12,354 this year to $12,648 next year. Other education investments include:

  1. Money to support pension payments
  2. Training and recruitment for teachers and other educators
  3. Special education services for infants, toddlers and preschool
  4. Community schools
  5. Student mental health
  6. Early education
  7. School to career data system

Investments Outside of Education

Business/individuals

The budget makes significant investments that support children, youth and families who suffered from the economic consequences of the pandemic. California’s unemployment rate increased from a record low of 3.9% in February to a record high of 16.4% in April and May. Small businesses struggled to stay afloat. The budget provides a variety of investments to create a financial recovery. Among the important supports for families is the Golden State Stimulus, a proposed tax refund for low-income earners who suffered economically from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic

The pandemic recovery investment includes vaccine distribution, preparing and expanding the health care system for a surge of cases, protecting at-risk populations, and emergency response activities.

You can find additional details about budget investments below:

California State PTA Responds to Governor’s Proposed 2021-22 Budget Plan

SACRAMENTO, JANUARY 13, 2021 – California State PTA has released the following statement in response to the Governor’s budget plan for 2021-2022:

“This has been an unprecedented time for students and families,” said Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA. “The global pandemic and civil unrest has rocked the foundation of our public school system. The state and federal budget investments we make this year are critical to restoring the health, safety, social, emotional and academic support needed for all children and families.”

“In the view of California State PTA, the Governor’s proposed budget holds promise. The $6.7 billion to mitigate the COVID pandemic impact on schools will support students and staff. We must keep the health and safety of our students, staff and families first in any early action plan. Addressing learning loss and ensuring equity are crucial.”

“PTA is also pleased to see investments in student mental health, early childhood education, extended education, and the cradle-to-career data system as well as the ongoing commitment to professional development for educators. Use of one-time funds to spend down funding deferrals owed to K-12 education and to defray costs of employee pensions makes sense.”

“We appreciate the focus on investments in special education, but a greater financial commitment will continue to be necessary to fully fund the costs for our most vulnerable students.”

“PTA believes that prioritizing the needs of vulnerable families is more critical now than ever, and we look forward to working with the Legislature and Governor as the proposed 2021-2022 budget moves through process during this unique and challenging time.”

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About California State PTA: California State PTA connects families, schools and communities. We are part of the foundation of our public education system and a trusted messenger to millions of members, parents, families, educators and allied agencies throughout the state. PTA is the nation’s largest volunteer-led child-advocacy association working to drive improvements in the education, health and well-being of all children and families. For more information, visit www.capta.org.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Heather Ippolito
Vice President for Communications
communications@capta.org

Ignacio Barragan
Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org
916.440.1985

California State PTA Responds to Riots at the U.S. Capitol

SACRAMENTO, JANUARY 11, 2021 – California State PTA has released the following statement in response to the riots at the U.S. Capitol, which shook the nation.

“We at California State PTA denounce last week’s attack on our Capitol,” said Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA. “This assault on our government was shocking and intolerable. As a nonpartisan organization, PTA supports full participation in, and respect for, the democratic process, affirming that free and fair elections and an orderly transfer of power are cornerstones of our democracy that must not be compromised.”

“Our body of dedicated parents and teachers has a long history of empowering children and families by fostering civic engagement in our communities. We concur with National PTA that the divisive actions of Wednesday provide parents, as first educators, an opportunity to have open and critical discussion about how democracy and civics work in our country.”

“We should also remind our children that the uncivil actions of a few cannot thwart the positive impacts of the many that are committed to the advancement of greater diversity, equity and inclusion in our schools and communities.”

California State PTA encourages the review of our resolutions on civics education (Support for the Civic Mission of Schools (2006) and Citizenship Education (1989)) and information on how civics create educated citizens.

Supporting children as they witness upsetting news stories is crucial. Here is a PTA resource:  https://www.pta.org/home/family-resources/health/Emotional-Health/Discussing-Difficult-Situations-With-Your-Children

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About California State PTA: California State PTA connects families, schools and communities. We are part of the foundation of our public education system and a trusted messenger to millions of members, parents, families, educators and allied agencies throughout the state. PTA is the nation’s largest volunteer-led child-advocacy association working to drive improvements in the education, health and well-being of all children and families. For more information visit www.capta.org.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Heather Ippolito
Vice President for Communications
communications@capta.org

Ignacio Barragan
Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org
916.440.1985

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.