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In This Moment (10/15): K-12 SWP, Digital Divide, Educator Workforce Investment Grant

October 15, 2020 | Iish Ryaru

In response to inquiries from the field, this week we are providing a brief status update on the K-12 Strong Workforce Program funding, including applicable changes as of the most recent application cycle.

We also provide insights on a State Assembly hearing about internet access during distance learning, and the impact of the digital divide on students, families, and educators.

Finally, we highlight the Educator Workforce Investment Grant and its focus on providing research-based strategies and resources to educators to improve outcomes for English Learners.

If you have additional policy updates that would be valuable for the Linked Learning field, please share them with Iish@LinkedLearning.org.


K-12 Strong Workforce

In 2018, the legislature introduced the K12 Strong Workforce Program (K-12 SWP) as an ongoing statewide funding opportunity. Per the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, K-12 SWP is “designed to support K–12 local education agencies (LEAs) in creating, improving, and expanding career technical education (CTE) courses, course sequences, programs of study, and pathways for students transitioning from secondary education to postsecondary education to living-wage employment.”

The California Department of Education (CDE), State Board of Education (SBE), and California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) addressed, through a PowerPoint, the alignment of the K-12 SWP application with the California Work Pathways Joint Advisory Committee (CWPJAC) Guiding Policy Principles. The CDE also outlines the associated Essential Elements of a High-Quality College and Career Pathways on its webpage.

As the PowerPoint from the CDE, SBE, and CCCCO indicates:

“K–12 SWP application and training materials were developed with the goal of aligning to the 12 Essential Elements of a High-Quality College and Career Pathway (Essential Elements) to ensure monies are targeted to build connected, equitable, accessible, and high-quality kindergarten through grade fourteen (K–14) college and career pathways for all students.”

In a different PowerPoint, the CDE, SBE, and CCCCO addressed recent updates and changes to the K-12 SWP application, including a streamlined Request for Application (RFA), simplified format and upload of the work plan, expanded character count, and an added budget narrative.

For those that have already submitted applications, or plan to do so by the Friday October 16 deadline, additional important dates are as follows:

  • October 19-November 20, 2020: Regional K-12 Selection Committees review applications and submit nominations of proposed grantees to California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO)
  • November 25, 2020 K-12 SWP preliminary awards announced

Digital Divide

The Assembly Education Committee and the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee held a joint informational hearing Wednesday to discuss the digital divide and the many challenges facing students, families, and educators who have had to adapt to distance learning in response COVID-19.

Depending on which panelist presented the information, anywhere from 300,000 to 1 million students in California lack devices or sufficient internet access necessary to participate in distance learning. Even students and educators who have a device and internet connection face capacity issues that further exacerbate student learning loss. Because the state does not regularly collect data on student home internet access, much of the information on students' connectivity has come from Local Education Agencies voluntarily participating in CDE surveys.

This is a key issue for the Linked Learning community. A recently released analysis from the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Linked Learning Alliance shows the very students who could benefit the most from the college-and career-focused approach of Linked Learning are the least likely to have the internet and devices needed to access it from home.

Narrowing the scope of the remaining statewide connectivity need will be challenging, but it’s clear that the challenges and inequities surrounding the digital divide are top of mind for many lawmakers. Based on the conversation and urgency in the hearing, it’s likely legislators will use the next few months to develop policy solutions that can be immediately taken up for a vote once the legislature reconvenes after the first of the year.


Educator Workforce Investment Grant

The Educator Workforce Investment Grant (EWIG) was established to provide grant funding to support professional learning for teachers and paraeducators on a range of topics including the California English Learner Roadmap, Special-education, and positive school climate. The two EWIG English Learner Roadmap (ELR) grantees are Californians Together (CalTog) and the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE).

In State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond’s most recent Weekly COVID-19 Update, he indicated that both CalTog and CABE are available to “...to bring research-based strategies and resources to administrators and educators in order to dramatically accelerate and improve multilingual academic opportunities and outcomes for English Learners across California.”

For more information, feel free to visit California Department of Education’s Educator Workforce Investment Grant: EL Roadmap Policy Implementation web page.