Since March, Project Hope Alliance has put Chromebooks and WiFi hotspots in the hands of about 850 schoolchildren who are homeless and engaged in distance learning. Many are living in local motels — a fact that hits close to home for Jennifer Friend, who heads the nonprofit.
The Orange County Register reported this week that when Friend was a child, she lived with her parents and three brothers in one of the motels she visited recently.
Now a successful lawyer, mother and community leader, Friend is leveraging her organization’s reach and resources to keep local families connected, recognizing that education is critical to breaking the cycles of poverty and homelessness. But the financial costs are continuing to mount for Project Hope Alliance.
“We desperately need a tech partner to step in and, at minimum, defer some of these costs,” she said. “This isn’t going to go away.”
Here are some other stories we’ve been following this week:
- OCDE partnered with the City of Westminster to host a virtual groundbreaking for a new park and monument honoring the historic Mendez v. Westminster case, which famously led to the desegregation of California’s public schools. You can watch the ceremony on the OCDE Newsroom or the department’s Facebook page.
- CBS Los Angeles, which also covered the groundbreaking event, noted that Mendez Tribute Monument Park will help raise public awareness of the landmark civil rights case that still remains largely unknown, even in Southern California.
- The pandemic has further widened equity gaps in education, with vastly different academic experiences playing out in districts along the border of Orange and Los Angeles counties.
- As COVID-19 cases make their way to local campuses, school officials are working with the OC Health Care Agency and relying on the safety and notification protocols that have been put into place over the last several months.
- Laguna Beach Unified became the latest local district to unveil a COVID-19 dashboard this week, allowing the public to track confirmed cases at each school.
- When it comes to testing staff members for COVID-19, OC districts are taking different approaches. While some recommend regular tests, the Los Alamitos and Cypress school districts have mandated testing for their employees.
- With social distancing and other safety measures in place, staff members from OCDE’s ACCESS program hosted a one-of-a-kind back to school night in partnership with Mariners Church.
- Distance learning has increased the demand for tutors, but for every parent who can afford academic support for their child, there are plenty more who can’t. That’s adding to concerns about equity.
- Meanwhile, two high school seniors at Irvine’s Portola High School are among a growing number of teen volunteers who are offering free tutoring services to help students in need.
- Despite the spring pivot to distance learning, high schoolers in Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified set a new district record for AP exam participation, with 4,443 students taking the test online in 2020.
- Hundreds of thousands of California students still don’t have the resources they need to engage in distance learning because of global backorders and the absence of broadband infrastructure in some parts of the state, EdSource reports.
- About three-fourths of voters surveyed say California schools need more funding to safely offer in-person instruction and to provide meaningful distance learning. Most believe the federal government should assist schools and colleges.
This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroom, subscribing for emailed updates and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.