July 17, 2020

This week, we focus on two districts’ plans meet the needs of students facing the biggest challenges adjusting to a distance learning regimen. The priority students — homeless, foster, and special needs students and youths furthest academically behind — would receive tutoring and counseling. Superintendents Matthew Duffy of West Contra Costa Unified and Don Austin of Palo Alto Unified describe their programs. Austin said the teachers union has declined to participate, but administrators are shooting to run the program if necessary.

Many school districts have already announced they will start the year with distance learning, and the number will almost certainly mushroom as a result of  Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new guidance this week barring  in-person instruction for all districts in schools in over 30 counties on the state’s coronavirus monitoring list.

Sarah Lillis, executive director of the nonprofit Teach Plus, tells us why the state’s new minimum standards for distance learning don’t go far enough and how parents can demand higher quality instruction. 

Note: Our interviews were conducted the day before Gov. Newsom announced his guidance, and it is not clear how it will affect the programs we discussed.  But they suggest innovative approaches worth considering whenever schools are deemed safe to bring small groups of students back to school. 

For background to this podcast, check out the following from EdSource: