Last week I was trying to research exactly how many schools in our state will be impacted if our Governor is successful in negotiating with our Legislators to adopt his proposed changes to our state’s 1976 Independent Study (IS) Laws. I emailed the Independent Study (IS) Department at the California Department of Education (CDE) inquiring if they had the number of IS schools in our state. To my surprise I received a very concerning out of office reply from the CDE that stated:
“Distance Learning (DL) requirements will sunset on June 30th. LEAs considering a DL option for the 2021-22 school year shall implement the program as part of independent study (IS), as it will be the only option for attendance accounting for virtual learning. LEAs may choose to diversify their independent study program with various structural options. We will be scheduling an IS webinar series that will begin in July. Information for the webinars will be posted on the CDE IS web page once the dates are secured. The purpose of these webinars will be to review the new IS requirements and answer your questions.”
LEA stands for Local Education Agency which is defined as a public board of education or other public authority within a state that maintains administrative control of public elementary or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a state. School districts, county offices of education and charter schools are LEAs.
Distance Learning (DL) is what school districts offered to students as a replacement for in-person instruction during Covid School Closures. Parents and Legislators have brought up concerns about how these DL programs were implemented and the lack of student progress that was made during Covid. These distance learning programs were different from our successful, long-running, independent study programs that are offered by our districts, county offices of education, and charter schools serving students with varying needs through their unique programs.
We can not change the outcome of what happened during Covid School Closures with district distance learning programs by making changes to long-time independent study law. We need to ask legislators why we are trying to fix a temporary Covid related education problem with far-reaching changes to decades old laws that have allowed students who need independent study programs to succeed and obtain a California diploma.
The CDE clearly knows the difference between the temporary DL that is sunsetting and the 1976 Independent Study Law that the Governor wants permanently changed starting with the 21/22 school year.
The auto-reply from the independent study department at the CDE is most concerning. Why are they preparing for changes to IS law and webinars to help explain those changes when there has been no official changes made by our legislature?
Has the CDE been instructed by the Governor’s office and/or our legislators to prepare their webinars for next month prior to any official Assembly or Senate Bills being introduced and making their way through the legislative process that is supposed to be transparent to the people of our state?
Please contact the offices for both your State Senator and Assembly Member. You can find the website for your legislators using this form. Once you enter your address the form should populate your Senator and your Assembly Member, click the links to go to their websites and then please call each one at their Capitol Office phone number.
When you call, you should state that you are a constituent in their district, and that you are calling about your opposition to the Governor’s proposed independent study (IS) changes contained in the 2021-22 State of California Department of Finance Trailer Bill Language. Then please provide them with your address.
Next, please ask the person you are speaking with for their education staff member’s name and email address. You can say you need it because you have questions and information pertaining to the Governor’s proposed independent study (IS) changes that you want to send to them. Write down the name and email address that they provide you for the education staffer and then please feel free to use or adapt our sample letter to inquire from them about the language and the CDE’s plans.
If no one answers the phone at the Capitol office, you can call the district offices and ask them for the education staff member’s name and contact email.
If you have not already taken the action steps we laid out to help us protect Independent Study in California please take some time this week to take action. You can find details and instructions on our post here.
Thank you for your continued support of our children!
As always, if you have any questions or need a pep talk, please call or text me.