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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Bill To Address Pandemic-Related Learning Loss Awaiting Newsom's Signature

 June 23, 2021 at 12:00 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The Russia's on for a California assembly bill that addresses learning loss suffered by students during the pandemic AB 1 0 4, sponsored by San Diego assemblywoman. Lorena Gonzalez has passed the legislature and is now awaiting governor Newsome signature. Some of its main provisions allow parents to request their child, be allowed to repeat a grade and provide students with credit recovery options. If last year had a bad effect on their grades, but schools will need some time to adjust to those new options. So the clock is ticking before next semester begins. Joining me is San Diego assembly, woman Lorena Gonzalez, and welcome to the program. Thanks for having me, Maureen, what have you learned about how much educational loss was suffered by California students during the pandemic? Speaker 2: 00:48 I don't think we know the extent yet. I have learned that there are kids who missed months and their kids who missed the entire year. So, um, we know bad internet connections, people having to work take care of younger siblings. I mean, the number of reasons kids have missed so much, um, school vary from family to family and some kids just couldn't deal with online education. Um, we knew that going into the pandemic, that it's not a good way to educate, especially young children. So what we found is every family's in a different position. Every kid is, um, suffering in different ways and we've got to have the flexibility to meet them where they are and to provide unique choices for those children and those parents to kind of deal with what happened last year Speaker 1: 01:40 And what groups of students were most effected. Do you think? Speaker 2: 01:43 Well, I know in San Diego that, um, there are students in, in my district, which is of course the working class communities in south San Diego and Chula Vista national city, um, had unique problems, right? They had unique issues. We, we, um, had kids whose families were most effected by COVID, um, health wise kids who lost parents and grandparents. Um, we had kids who, uh, whose parents were essential workers. And so, um, they were watching younger children as well at home, trying to do their schoolwork and be caretakers at the same time. Um, we have bad internet connections and some of our neighborhoods still, we don't have universal broadband. And so, um, I think those kids in particular from working class families, um, Latino kids in particular were, were most effected. Now, if Speaker 1: 02:32 Governor Newsome signs AB 1 0 4, what are some of the things it would do? So Speaker 2: 02:38 AB 1 0 4 does three things. Primarily one, it allows parents the opportunity to seek, um, a redo of the grade for their child. So that's not our preferred policy position in California when it comes to education, we believe in social promotion for a variety of reasons. So that was probably the most controversial. Um, but we know that some kids missed the year. What do you do with the child who missed the entire year, um, or got nothing out of school this year? Um, so it allows parents that opportunity to talk to the administrator and teacher about their child redoing the school year and that's in any grade. It also allows, um, our seniors who maybe just couldn't, couldn't finish up in time. Um, our juniors and seniors, who, who lost some credits to recover those in high school, we know that a high school diploma is much more valuable than a GED, and we want those kids to have the opportunity to finish up their schooling, um, this coming year. Speaker 2: 03:35 And so that they can actually graduate with a high school diploma. There are kids who, who dropped out of school to join the workforce are kids who just couldn't handle the online education. And we know it's valuable to allow them that opportunity to have a fifth year senior, basically. And then the final thing it does, this is for, I think the majority of kids primarily in high school are only in high school who may have been really good students, right? They might've had, um, an a and B average headed to college, and then they just couldn't do one of their subjects or two of their subjects online. And we we've seen this. I think you can talk to just about anyone who said, I had a student, um, who couldn't figure out how to do Spanish online. And she got a C well, if you get a C um, it really hurts your chances of actually getting into a UC or CSU. And so we want them to be able to convert, um, you know, one or two, not perfect seller grades to pass no pass so that their grade point average isn't hurt as a result. So if you pass a grade and that one grade is going to upset your entire transcript, let's give them that opportunity. Speaker 1: 04:38 Now there's an urgency to the signing of this bill because schools have deadlines for the coming semester. Tell us about that. Speaker 2: 04:46 Absolutely. I was thinking about this this morning, my, um, my little ones, this is their last day of school today. So, you know, um, when kids are in school is the best time to communicate with parents that they have these options. Um, my, my 18 year old is graduating on Friday and most of the school districts in south San Diego in Chula Vista, Sweetwater districts, they're coming back in July, already. They have year round. And so they start at the end of July. So we really need, um, there was an urgency on this. We got it through as quickly as we could given that it was semi controversial. Um, but it ended up getting through the assembly and Senate with, uh, no, no votes. In other words, it was completely bi-partisan. It was unanimous. That's unusual, especially for, for a bill that started with a lot of opposition. Um, and now we're just hopeful that the governor, um, you know, he has 12 days as of two days ago to sign it. So we have, I think July 3rd is the deadline, but we, we hope he realizes, you know, every day is, is a day that the schools need to implement this. Have you gotten any indication that he will Speaker 3: 05:49 Sign the bill? Speaker 2: 05:51 I haven't. Um, I'm I am, um, you know, every asking his staff, uh, if there there's more questions or answers they need, we've been working on this for so long. Um, you know, we're, we're still waiting. Okay. Speaker 1: 06:09 Then I've been speaking with San Diego assembly, woman, Lorena Gonzalez. Thank you so much for speaking with Speaker 3: 06:14 Us. Thank you. Have a good day.

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The rush is on for a California Assembly bill that addresses learning loss suffered by students during the Pandemic. AB-104, introduced by 80th district Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, has passed the legislature and is now awaiting Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature.
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