School Reopening, Distance Learning, State Plan and CTE

Supporting and Teaching CTE through Distance Learning, CCEA Plus, CDE

Supporting and Teaching CTE through Distance Learning

A message from Dan Sackheim at CDE:

Dear Colleagues,

Supporting and Teaching CTE through Distance Learning, CCEA Plus, CDEWe have students come to us with work habits, behavior and attendance challenges that, if not addressed, will greatly limit their ability to obtain and maintain successful employment. I am attaching the language that we were successful in including in the State Perkins Career Technical Education (CTE) Plan that specifically discusses our focus on workforce readiness in educational options schools and programs – as a necessary step before many students are ready to address career pathways and ladders. It would be great if you could send me a description of how you are supporting and teaching CTE through distance learning. I need your real world examples for some workgroups I participate in.

Dan Sackheim, CDE Program Consultant and Liaison for Continuation Education and Community Day Schools Thank you,
Dan Sackheim
Education Programs Consultant
Educational Options Office
California Department of Education
Email: dsackheim (at)

Workforce Readiness Excerpts from the 2020 Perkins State Plan

View / Download PDF version

The U.S. Department of Education has approved California’s Federal Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) State Plan. The 2020–23 Perkins V State Plan is posted on the California Workforce Pathways Joint Advisory Committee’s web page.

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Students in continuation education, opportunity education, county community and court schools, district community day schools, and those incarcerated by the California Division of Juvenile Justice may be overcoming attendance and/or behavioral challenges. It is important to have a framework of supportive interventions that are designed to be educational and developmental, rather than be punitive, particularly when these supportive interventions are considered within the larger context of workforce readiness.

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The school-to-prison pipeline could be significantly reduced if students who had repeatedly presented attendance or other behavioral challenges were supported even more strongly through a combination of an educational framework that integrates CTE into the basic curriculum framework along with co-requisite supporting interventions. In particular, such students could successfully develop workforce readiness skills that would minimize attendance or other behavioral challenges and prepare these students for success and to make greater contributions to the workforce than likely without these skills.

More broadly, in a tight labor market, framing chronic absenteeism rates and incidences of behavioral challenges as showing a lack of development in workforce readiness skills can have a significant impact on reducing the likelihood that a student will drop out of school. Continuing education, opportunity education, district community day schools, and county court and community schools have also shown promise as effective educational options that incorporate a focus on CTE.

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Stakeholders noted the lack of awareness and underutilization of existing resources, the lack of funding for students before they become “at-promise,” and the lack of partnering between agencies as obstacles. They identified educator mindsets and approaches to special populations as a barrier. They also noted lack of training and lack of a way to assess students in small subgroups as obstacles. It is crucial that, instead of seeing these challenges as obstacles, educators see them as yet-to-be-developed workforce readiness skills, and see themselves as responsible for and capable of teaching these skills to the students presenting these challenges. There are instances where this is becoming a better-understood practice, but much PD is needed to expand the prevalence of this approach. Stakeholders suggested that PD is also needed to address overall issues of bias and equity.

Stakeholders focused primarily on how to access services that support student success. Comments described both supports that are currently provided and supports that are needed, including case management, tutorials, and counselors, as well as better understanding of resources available for student supports and of students’ learning preferences. Stakeholders offered a wide range of suggestions to improve supports for students, including academic supports, coaching and mentoring, scheduling flexibility to accommodate work and school, and skills certification. They also noted the need to understand individual student strengths and to improve access to workplace experiences.

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Some specific recommended strategies for preparing special populations for further learning include partnering with community-based organizations and other public agencies to address such issues as homelessness and probation and to create “academic bridge programs” that would include both academic support and career exploration opportunities, as well as support with navigating educational and employment systems. Stakeholders also suggested creating “safe zones” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning) students; addressing the needs of homeless students; and increasing engagement with parents and families. To fund these efforts, stakeholders recommended braiding funds and improving alignment across State agencies and programs, including the Department of Rehabilitation, the Health and Human Services Agency, and Student Attendance Review Boards.

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Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credentialing for School Counseling, School Psychology, School Social Work, and Child Welfare and Attendance: School counselors also play a role in supporting student access to CTE coursework. The CCTC issues a PPS credential to individuals to work as school counselors, among other support personnel. While this credential is not specific to CTE, PPS candidates are prepared to work both individually and collectively to:

  • Develop and support successful learning and promote the healthy development and resilience of all students.
  • Advance the academic, social/emotional, and career/transitional learning of students in the pre-K–12 school system.
  • Identify factors associated with prevention and intervention strategies to support academic achievement and ensure equitable access to resources promoting academic achievement, college and career development, and social/emotional development for every student, such as: motivation, student efficacy, time management, study skills, constructive problem solving, and teacher-student rapport.

Assembly Examines School Reopening, Senate, Distance Learning

A message from our legislative analyst:

Yesterday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education held a hearing to look specifically at the question of the state’s role in assisting schools to reopen during, and hopefully after, the COVID-19 pandemic. There was such great interest in this hearing that several members who do not actually sit on the budget subcommittee listened in and asked questions of the panelists. While much of the hearing focused on things the state has already done to assist schools generally during the pandemic, a few key takeaways, discussed below, could inform policies and guidance coming from both the Legislature and other state departments like the California Department of Education (CDE), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), as well as the Newsom Administration.

Assembly Members express equity concerns as some schools open while others remain closed.

It was evident that members participating in the hearing were anxious to hear from the various state entities that provide guidance regarding the safe reopening of California’s schools. Present as panelists were representatives from the Department of Finance, the Legislative Analysts’ Office, CDE, and CDPH. While members were thankful to hear from these agencies, it quickly became clear that they were also frustrated with what they expressed as a lack of sufficient and consistent state guidance to assist schools to reopen.

Several legislators noted that the overarching issue of schools reopening is quickly growing into one of equity and access. Assembly Member Phil Ting (D – San Francisco), who chairs the full Assembly Budget Committee, stated that in his district, private schools are starting to reopen, but many public schools have not. He pointed to a lack of guidance around COVID-19 testing (discussed below) as one of the chief reasons public schools are hesitating to reopen. Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell (D – Long Beach), chair of the Assembly Education Committee, echoed those concerns, saying, “We have a glaring civil rights issue emerging in this state in that, private schools are opening, and public schools are not.”

One member even expressed concerns that went beyond the direct equity impacts on students. Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D – San Diego), who chairs the powerful Assembly Appropriations Committee, expressed her frustrations, saying “…We know that women are being disproportionately affected by children staying home, too… we have spent more time, and had I think clearer guidance on bars and movie theaters than we have on schools.”

Clearer guidelines around testing for COVID-19 also a chief concern.

In addition to concern over equity, members noted that a lack of clear guidance and assistance for COVID-19 testing is one of the key barriers to reopening schools. Dr. Erica Pan, the acting State Public Health Officer, was pressed by Assembly Member Ting, who asked, “…Are you starting to try to develop guidance in relation with CDE to let districts know what is considered safe testing protocols for our teachers as they start to consider going back?” She noted there is a working group examining the issue but, after a small back and forth, was unable to give a time-certain answer on when that guidance would be released.

This raised more ire from members, with Assembly Member Ting saying, “Let me just be extraordinarily clear – your guidance may determine whether or not schools reopen… I think the answer that you have given is completely not understanding what districts and teachers need.” The discussion on testing was left open-ended, with Dr. Pan remarking, “I think we need to work together to come to an agreement on this…” Despite this olive branch, it is clear the patience of the Legislature is wearing thin. Many members of both the Assembly and Senate have expressed concern, since the onset of the pandemic several months ago, that they are not being consulted by the Administration on key decisions related to the overall COVID-19 response by the state.

Senate looks at the challenges of distance learning.

Supporting and Teaching CTE through Distance Learning, CCEA Plus, CDEIn addition to yesterday’s Assembly hearing, on Monday, the Senate’s Committee on Education and Select Committee on Emergency Pandemic Response held an informational hearing examining the challenges of distance learning.

Martha Guzman Aceves, a Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and a panelist during the hearing, expressed concern that high-speed, broadband internet access is still not considered, or treated as, a utility. She said, “…We need to govern the internet as the essential service that it is. It is a utility. This essential service needs to be regulated like one and legislated like one.” She further noted that telephone/voice providers are required to serve all the customers in a designated area – this is known as being the carrier of last resort. However, we do not require that internet providers do the same. According to the Commissioner, requiring the same for cable companies could be an expeditious way to ensure all customers have internet service available to them at an affordable rate.

Beyond simple access, members of the committees also explored issues around current state standards for subsidized broadband internet projects, and whether those are sufficient for students to meaningfully engage in educational activities. Senator Lena Gonzalez (D – Los Angeles), who is quickly emerging as a champion on this issue, noted that the current speed standards for projects subsidized by the California Advanced Services Fund are 6 MBPS download, and 1 MBPS upload. This falls well below the current Federal standard of 25 MBPS download and 3 MBPS upload. State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, who was a panelist during the hearing and involved in the discussion around sufficiency of broadband speeds, also remarked, “…We can work with the CPUC and the Department of Transportation, we can put out a recommendation (on this issue); but without legislation or regulation, it will not have any impact.”

Look for legislation in 2021 attempting to tackle these issues.

Stage set for plethora of bills on school reopening and dealing with COVID-19.

This week’s hearings were informational which, as you may recall from our previous update, means no actual policy decisions could be made. However, members may use the information and discussions from these hearings to help shape future legislative proposals around the issues mentioned above, in addition to other critical issues like mental health, student learning loss, childcare, closing the digital divide, and overall disaster/wildfire response.

With the November 3 General Election only days away, attention will surely shift for the time being. As the dust settles on November 4 and beyond, we will provide an update on the results of key legislative races, as well as key propositions that will impact schools. In the meantime, please reach out to the partners or staff at Capitol Advisors if you need any additional information.