Sacramento Debates How to Address Learning Loss

Learning loss sustained during the pandemic remains a top priority for the governor. He has proposed directing $4 billion in federal money toward the loss of learning and said Friday that the issue is non-negotiable.

The Legislature also wants to address learning loss. However, lawmakers disagree with how some of that money should be allocated.

“Newsom’s method of distributing the bulk of the money exclusively to districts with large concentrations of ‘high-needs students’ — English learners, low-income, foster and homeless students — has become a point of contention,” EdSource’s John Fensterwald notes. “Senate and Assembly leaders jointly proposed spreading the money widely among more districts in their alternate version of the state budget that they released Wednesday.”

Districts where at least 55% of students are high needs would receive $754 per student. “Most of the state’s 324,000 black students, who comprise 5.3% of the state’s students, attend those districts, including Los Angeles Unified. However, those districts with less than 55% of high-needs students would get no CARES Act aid.”

That’s not fair, critics say. But the governor has been steadfast, noting that low-income students and students of color will suffer disproportionately from learning loss.

The Equity Coalition proposed one compromise that would abandon the 55% threshold but neither the governor nor the Legislature have adopted its tenets.

Read more about the challenges Sacramento faces in addressing learning loss here.