On March 4, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-26-20, stating that schools will still receive state funding to “continue delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students.” However, despite the continued funding of school districts, many school boards have failed to adopt requirements that their teachers actually provide any live instruction.
Instead of providing live instruction, many teachers simply email homework assignments to students with dates for work to be completed and turned in to the teachers. Virtual “office hours” are available to some, and in some instances, “teachers” are offering instructional time if people need direct instruction. But the question remains, if they were teaching six hours a day before the COVID-19 closures, why aren’t they being required to provide live instruction if they are being fully paid?
San Dieguito Unified School District, the district that earned the Golden Fleece award in 2016 from the San Diego Taxpayers Association for its labor contract (which guaranteed that it would always pay its teachers the highest salaries in the county), has no requirements that their teachers actually teach via live instruction for a certain amount during this period.
The lack of a virtual teaching requirement is surprising because according to San Dieguito’s “school accountability report cards,” the average salary for its teachers for the 2017-18 school year was $103,164 for approximately 180 days (or half a year) of work annually. And yet, there are apparently no set requirements about how much—if any—live instruction must be provided to the students while they collect six figure paychecks and earn pension payments at home.
This is the same district where a majority of its board recently approved a 3.5% raise to its administrators after COVID-19 hit. This same board made the raise retroactive without any strings. Anyone interested in learning more about this craziness should take a look at the San Dieguito Watchdog blog, which tracks numerous issues that have arisen in this district.
Per the California Constitution, students have a right to public education. Distribution of homework assignments is probably not what the framers of the state constitution had in mind.
Not only do school boards not think standards requiring actual, live, or virtual instruction need to be required, but boards throughout the county have also decided that students do not need grades either. Despite family protests in the San Dieguito School District and Vista asking that the students be given the option between credit/no credit and grades, the boards in these districts are not budging and have stated that students cannot earn grades despite their commitment or need for them. Carlsbad Unified, by comparison, is leaving the decision of grade options to the students, putting them first.
For those who do not follow school board races in November, maybe it’s time that you do.