Los Angeles school officials recommend dropping the effort to extend the next school year by two weeks amid opposition from employees and lukewarm support from parents.
District administrators signaled their retirement in reports filed ahead of Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“Based on extensive stakeholder feedback … a district-wide extension of the school year for additional student and educator learning time will not be possible at this time,” said one. staff report signed by Chief Human Resources Officer Linda Del Cueto and Director of Studies Alison Yoshimoto-Towery.
Senior district administrators had been pushing for the extension, which would have included additional learning time for students and training days for teachers.
“Extending the school year with additional high-quality learning time for students and transformational learning for teachers is a critical need for students, especially those living in high-need communities,” according to the report. of the district.
The same report attributes primary responsibility for the lack of required extended learning time to the teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles.
“District staff explored with UTLA leaders a variety of alternatives to achieve this, including starting the school year early, regular Saturday school, longer school days or shortening of existing breaks on Thanksgiving or in January, ”the report says. “Unfortunately, all of them were rejected.”
In an interview last week, teachers’ union president Cecily Myart-Cruz spoke of educators who have been strained by more than a year of instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel like people are exhausted,” Myart-Cruz said. “We have great educators who do an incredible job. But I do admit that we have had a lot of upheaval during this year. And I don’t want to minimize that.
Campuses closed on March 13, 2020, forcing an immediate switch to online education. They started reopening the week of April 12 of this year, resulting in some difficult additional adjustments.
The union leadership opposed an extension based on a survey of members: 75% of members responded; 76% of those who opposed the extension of the school year, according to the council report. Myart-Cruz reported the numbers more generally on a Friday social media show.
“We took this message into the negotiations,” Myart-Cruz said on the show. “There is a good intention behind extending the school year, but without sufficient planning … the district would spend money inefficiently without having a measurable impact on student learning or well-being. social and emotional. ”
She added, “This is what I keep hearing from parents and educators. We cannot follow the most stressful and emotionally traumatic year our learning communities have ever had with the longest school year we have ever had.
The district previously released the results of a survey of parents representing 76% of students. Of these, 44% wanted the calendar to remain the same, 29% preferred to start school two weeks earlier and 27% preferred to start a week earlier and shorten the winter vacation by three weeks by one week. Eventually, district staff proposed adding six days of school and four days of teacher training.
District officials said they would look for other, possibly optional, opportunities to help students in the wake of a pandemic that some experts say has harmed many students, especially those with special needs. , including students learning English and people with disabilities. California parents have also expressed concern that their children are falling behind.
“Each school will develop an evidence-based plan to extend the days / hours,” according to slides from a presentation from the district. The areas of intervention proposed are: the acceleration of learning in mathematics and English; “Socio-emotional learning and community building” and “Unconscious bias training and plans to accelerate racial equity”.
Associate Directors in Los Angeles, whose members include directors and deputy directors, also conducted a survey. Within this union, 27% of the members responded. Of those, 62% wanted no changes to the teaching schedule, and an overwhelming majority wanted to maintain the current length of winter and Thanksgiving breaks.
The Education Council is due to review next year’s schedule at its Tuesday meeting. He has the option to reject the staff recommendation and refer the district team to negotiations with the teachers’ union, but this is unlikely.
District officials are also developing a plan for the summer school. They indicated that, most likely, students will have the option of a hybrid schedule on campus similar to what was rolled out last month. In this format, students spend approximately half of their school week on campus. The district plans to make the summer school accessible to all students, but it would be optional for both students and teachers.