What are the California school rules for online learning?


When it comes to education, the new state budget goes beyond providing $ 70.5 billion in funding for K-12 schools: it sets fundamental rules of accountability for a new era of distance learning in California by requiring teachers to attend online assistance and document student learning.

The budget bill, which is expected to be signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, anticipates that schools will continue to rely heavily on online instruction when campuses reopen in the fall. It also implicitly acknowledges the deep learning losses of the last semester, especially among students from low-income families, when school systems struggled to put all students online.

The new directives establish minimum teaching parameters for distance learning while protecting teachers against immediate layoffs.

“Educator and teacher unions have won fairly stable Sacramento funds to reopen schools this fall,” said Bruce Fuller, professor of education at UC Berkeley. “Now the imperative is to offer a rich combination of online and classroom instruction.”

Fuller said the emphasis on documentation reflects the concern of state leaders that tens of thousands of children simply went offline in the spring and then fell further behind. “

Whether school is online or in person, the rules reimpose the state’s 180-minute minimum instructional day requirement for kindergarten, 230 minutes for grades 1 to 3, and 240 minutes for grades 4 a 12. Distance learning can also be documented with student work. as online time.

Schools must also develop procedures to re-engage students absent from distance learning for more than three school days in a school week. Schools can develop alternative plans, with input from parents, to accomplish these mandates when necessary.

When the pandemic forced campuses to close in March for the remainder of the school year, the state told educators to continue teaching in any way necessary and possible, and schools across the state were quick to distribute computers, points of Internet access and hastily gathered paper packages.

Recognizing this burden, state officials set aside fundamental and familiar rules, such as attending and providing the necessary number of teaching minutes per day. School district leaders and charter school operators frequently did the same, emphasizing compassion for rigor and recognizing that schooling could not be changed instantly and smoothly from an on-time classroom experience in a classroom setting. screen.

There has also been concern that some teachers simply failed to catch up with online learning that required the rapid acquisition of new skills, leaving a gap in daily instruction.

A parent survey conducted by a local advocacy group found significant levels of dissatisfaction with the amount of instruction offered in the Los Angeles Unified School District after the campus closed.

Parents reported that 40% of their children received live instruction every day and 1 in 3 students had interactive contact with a teacher once a week or less, according to Speak Up. In addition, black and Latino students had up to three times more likely than white students to have participated in live classes once a week or less.

Additionally, black and Latino students were up to seven times more likely than white students to have never interacted with teachers. English learners and students with disabilities also received less interaction with teachers, according to responding parents.

“It is unacceptable that children who need the most help receive the least amount of instruction this spring,” said Katie Braude, executive director of Speak Up.

The group surveyed their contact list of approximately 4,000 parents across the district, receiving more than 400 responses. Although it was not a scientific sample, the survey covered geographic and ethnic diversity, although white families were overrepresented and Latinos, which are 3 out of 4 students in the district, were underrepresented. The survey was conducted from June 10 to 24, at the end of the school year.

Parents in the survey and at an online news conference on Friday overwhelmingly mentioned health and safety as their top concern, but they also prioritized improvements in the quality and quantity of online instruction.

While acknowledging the shortcomings, Los Angeles Schools Supt. Austin Beutner has repeatedly praised teachers and district staff for doing so much good so fast, especially because of the unknowns associated with distance learning.

“It is not reasonable for students or educators, nor is it good educational practice, for teachers and students to spend six hours a day in two-way online communication,” Beutner said in late March. “And families struggling to cope in this crisis may not be able to spend the whole day trying to help their children do school work.”

English teacher at San Pedro High School Maya Suzuki Daniels found a need for flexibility on both the teaching and learning side during the last semester. The students wanted live video sessions, but were more likely to join them at night due to jobs or siblings to care for. Others fared better with a video that they could pause and rewind. Additionally, Suzuki Daniels and her husband had to juggle their own work and care for their son Silas, who is nearing his first birthday.

“The four-hour workday that UTLA negotiated was absolutely essential,” said Suzuki Daniels, who loves to teach. “I thought I was going to have to resign.”

Flexible work hours are likely to remain crucial to her, she said.

The new rules are expected to address the uneven learning and attendance problems of the last semester, especially now that school systems have had several months to develop distance learning, said Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita).

“We wanted to make sure we set a basic minimum standard that we support with resources,” said Smith. “We know how costly it will be for districts to meet this challenge.”

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) said he had persistent concerns that school districts may need more flexibility than the new rules allow.

In the rush to establish online learning overnight, the largest group of charter schools in Los Angeles, Alliance College-Ready Schools, did not require interactive live instruction and did not require a specific number of work hours to teachers. But administrators estimated that teachers would need 18 to 30 hours a week to do what was minimally necessary.

“We couldn’t ask teachers and children to log in at 10 am,” said Nathalie Benoit, vice president of marketing and communications for the Alliance. “The teachers also have children at home. And we don’t know what the situation is at home for the students. “

The Alliance took a form of daily attendance by asking students to answer questions about their emotional well-being and whether they needed help every day.

Montebello Unified superintendent Anthony Martinez said his district, like many, did not attend after mid-March. He said the students were in crisis and many lacked computers or internet access to allow them to do their assigned work.

“It was important to reach our students with a ‘How are you?’ level, versus attendance and class work, ”he said.

LA Unified negotiated an agreement with the teachers union that specified 20 hours of work time per week.

It wasn’t enough, Braude of Speak Up said: “We have to set much stricter minimum standards for daily live online instruction this fall. Three hours a day should be the bare minimum. “

Mother Elizabeth Gomez said her seventh-grade son with Down syndrome received no instruction this spring. Her teacher at a Los Angeles unified high school tried just one live video class, and then gave up. And her son’s district-provided speech therapist left a voice message without a response number or email.

He recognized that teaching students with limited verbal skills is challenging, but said more effort should have been made.

“It has been very frustrating for us,” said Gomez.

Raquel Toscano has two children at the Maywood Center for Enriched Studies, which she called “a great school.” Still, she said, the instruction was uneven.

Sharnell Blevins, a parent at Hamilton High School, said the district set expectations too low for teachers and students.

“I hope that now we understand where we are and that we really shoot par excellence,” he said. “What we received in the spring was not enough.”

But Marlowe Jefferson, an eighth-grader at Lawrence High School in Chatsworth, said her six teachers worked effectively and creatively, even though each teacher used Zoom with her class for only one hour per week.

It can’t wait to get back to campus, but “I think I learned everything I needed to learn,” he said, before heading to a socially distant rugby practice.

Times staff writer Sonali Kohli contributed to this report.

Check Also

Portland sees 380% increase in shootings in July compared to 2019 – KATU

Portland sees 380% increase in shootings in July compared to KATU 2019 Portland Police Declare …