How Will SCUSD Students Engage in Distance Learning Without Computers or Tablets?
73 percent of SCUSD Secondary School Students Will NOT Be Provided Computers When Distance Learning Begins on Monday, April 13; District Refuses Offer of Mediation
District-wide distance learning is set to begin in Sacramento for the district’s 40.300 students, but teachers are asking the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) how students will be able to learn without access to computers or tablets?
In an April 7 update to parents, SCUSD confirms: “Unfortunately, we will not complete the distribution of computers to all students before April 13.”
In a letter[rk1] to Superintendent Jorge Aguilar April 8, leaders of the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) raised concerns about equity, access and social justice in light of the lack of availability of Chromebooks and contrary to repeated assurances from SCUSD representatives that a Chromebook would be provided to every student who needed one.
According to the latest available data, 13,552 of the SCUSD’s 18,618 secondary school students – 73 percent – will not be offered Chromebooks by the time distance learning is scheduled to begin on April 13. To date, SCUSD has distributed computers to just 8.7 percent of district students, 3500 computers to 40,302 students.
SCUSD is also limiting distribution to elementary students. According to the SCUSD communication of April 7: “Because of the limited number of computers available at this time, we will first distribute one (1) computer per family of elementary (K-6) students.”
Despite repeated requests, SCUSD officials have yet to provide any information on how students will be able participate in distance learning without access to computers. In addition, the district is not providing any specifics of when all Sac City students will be provided computers. According to the SCUSD: “We ultimately expect to provide each of our students from all grade levels a computer within the next few weeks.” It’s anticipated that classes taught through distance learning will only be for the period of April 13 to June 12.
Yesterday, district representatives rejected a proposal from teachers to have Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna to serve as mediator between teachers and SCUSD, so that issues relating to distance learning can be immediately resolved, including providing distance learning to the thousands of students without computer access.
SCUSD has also refused to abide California Governor Newsom’s “Framework for Labor-Management Collaboration: Serving Local Communities During the COVID-19 Emergency” issued on April 1, 2020 which encourages the parties “to work together to find the best path for the students, the staff and communities.”
SCUSD has refused to agree “to engage in open, ongoing and frequent communication,” to work with SCTA “to continue to deliver education to students through any practical means,” and “to treat SCTA as its partner regarding information gathering, developing plans, and decision-making.” Each of these are essential parts of the Governor’s Framework.
“At a time when students are relying on District leaders to provide the resources they need and to work with teachers to provide Distance Learning, SCUSD refuses even to commit to ‘work together’ and ‘to provide open, ongoing and frequent communications,’” said David Fisher, the president of SCTA and the parent of two SCUSD students. “Teachers want to teach. It’s time for District leaders to accept the offer of Sac City teachers to move forward on a Distance Learning program on April 13th, that builds on the instruction that teachers have already been providing on their own.”