California state lawmaker proposes program to help parents with out-of-pocket remote learning costs
California lawmaker says school reopening delays ‘a big part of’ Newsom’s recall effort
Republican Kevin Kiley joins ‘The Next Revolution’ to discuss California’s push to recall Governor Gavin Newsom.
As virtual learning is taking a toll on the mental wellbeing of children, parents of students who are being kept home because of coronavirus-related school closures are feeling a burden on their wallets – but help could be on the way.
A California state lawmaker is proposing a privately financed grant program that would assist families who have been paying out of pocket for iPads, textbooks, tutors and other unplanned expenses to help keep their children engaged with remote learning.
“Over the past year, school closures have had a devastating impact on the mental health and academic progress of California students,” Kevin Kiley, the Republican state assembly member pushing for the creation of what he calls “Cal Grant K-12”, told Fox News. “A central part of our state’s strategy for overcoming learning loss should be to give parents greater control over their child’s education.”
Parents in states like California have been paying out of their own pockets to help keep their children engaged with remote learning.
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The bill, which is awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Education Committee, “incentivizes individuals and businesses to make donations that will provide eligible students scholarship funds they can use for approved expenses to help reduce pandemic-induced learning loss,” according to Kiley’s office.
Those who make donations would receive a tax credit from the state. The funds then could “be used for educational resources, including computers, tutors, and instructional materials,” it adds, with distribution priority going to low-income students “most disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shift to distance learning.”
If approved, Cal Grant K-12 would go into effect at the start of next year.
“Cal Grant K-12 empowers parents to spend education dollars on the services their kids need,” Kiley said.
Margaret Fortune, the president and CEO of Fortune School – a network of K-12 public charter schools based in Sacramento – is one supporter of tax credit scholarships, arguing in a column for The Sacramento Observer that “our public policy ought to acknowledge the vital role parents are playing to educate their own children during this pandemic.”
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She told Fox News that parents should “raise their hand and say ‘in addition to the schools needing additional support, so too do the families who are spending because their kids’ lack of access to school.’”
“I think that states and the federal government have done a tremendous amount for schools – and we see that with the tremendous contribution to schools coming from Biden’s stimulus package,” Fortune said. “I think what has not been addressed is the money parents have spent quietly supporting their children through distance learning and COVID-19 school closures.”
“There really hasn’t been a mechanism in states like California to acknowledge that parents are doing that spending,” she added. “And to reimburse them for it.”
Fortune says even though schools in California are reopening – students are often not returning to a full in-person schedule and will have to continue remote learning for at least a few days a week.
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“It’s going to take schools fundamentally rethinking the school year and the school day to provide these students with more time in order to mitigate the learning loss that they most certainly have sustained during this time,” she told Fox News when asked about the potential long-term effects of the closures on children.
“I think kids are resilient and that socially they are going to bounce back as soon as they can get in school and be able to associate with their peers, but I think that there are going to be some real academic losses for kids, particularly for those who are already behind,” she added.
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