IN A BACK-TO-SCHOOL brief “Stuck in Neutral?” released this week, the education-focused nonprofit San Joaquin A+ calls on districts in San Joaquin County to spend $109 million in federal and state pandemic funding on high-intensity tutoring and to prioritize social and emotional health and safety to support student learning.
The report also spares no words criticizing the governing board of the county’s largest district, Stockton Unified. It notes that two county grand juries have condemned the board for committing open-meeting violations, for “poor business practices, conflicts of interest, a lack of transparency, and budget shortfall of at least $30 million by 2024,” and for creating the conditions that have led to a revolving door of six superintendents in six years. Without mentioning pivotal school board elections next month, the report says, “The leadership changes themselves are a window into the management crisis perpetuated by the (Stockton Unified) school board.”
Pointing to “pockets of progress,” San Joaquin A+ praises Lodi Unified’s successful investment of COVID relief funding on early literacy programs and a decision to send 250 high school students to the University of the Pacific’s residential summer camp, as well as San Joaquin County’s creation of an early college program TEACH! Academy. It enables high school students to pursue an associate’s degree in education.
The report also points to the $4.6 million awarded to a coalition to establish the San Joaquin County Child Savings Account, setting up $750 college savings accounts for families with 3- and 4-year-olds. And it cited Stockton’s city government purchase of 1,550 Chromebooks with hotspots and 500 data-enabled tablets, equipped with three years of prepaid internet access, to address the 36 percent of Stockton households without reliable internet access and the 8 percent without a computer.
These are among the efforts to get schools and children “out of neutral” from the effects of the pandemic, the report said. The full report is available online.