These are dark and uncertain times for our state and our country, but in the darkest times, it is most important to search out hope. And what gives me tremendous hope, is you: the incredible community of champions and advocates throughout California.
Our collective work is more critical now than ever. Because while this public health crisis is new and unpredictable, it has shone a light on our longstanding and entirely-too-predictable crisis of educational equity. California’s most vulnerable students were already getting the least access to educational opportunity. If appropriate plans are not in place at the state, county, district, and school levels, the current crisis will only widen those gaps.
At Ed Trust–West, right now, we are incredibly grateful that our team is healthy and safe, and our most immediate focus is lifting the voices of students and families who don’t share that privilege. This crisis is already taking a disproportionate toll on low-income families and people of color. We have released guidelines for school leaders to support the most vulnerable students amid closures. And many incredible community partners are on the front lines of this fight, getting direct help into the hands of people who need it most right now. A few efforts you can support if you have the means include:
At the same time, we cannot lose sight of our efforts to promote educational justice in the medium- and long-term. Gaps in the school year—so-called “summer melt”—disproportionately hurt students who already have the least access to opportunity. Right now, all of California is facing summer melt on steroids. That means the hard work of accelerating progress toward educational justice is more critical than ever.
Next week, Ed Trust–West will begin releasing a series of advocacy tools and resources based on requests and feedback from communities across the state. We hope these tools will help influence equity minded policy solutions on how to stand with our state's most vulnerable students both short and long term. To house these resources, we are launching an Ed Trust–West COVID-19 webpage to provide you with the latest data-driven tools and information to promote equity. Stay tuned for our new releases and please be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay informed on education equity efforts during this time.
When I stepped into this role exactly a year ago, I made a commitment to pursue our work in true partnership with allies, advocates, and—especially—communities. In times like these, that partnership is more important than ever. Together we will get through this crisis, but when we do, we cannot simply go back to business as usual. Instead, we must use this time to innovate and create more equitable practices. We welcome your ideas and suggestions about how we can make the biggest difference, and we look forward to supporting your efforts to do the same.
Stay safe, healthy, hopeful, and powerful.
Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga
The Education Trust–West