The Los Angeles Unified School District’s initiative to combat COVID-era learning loss has been met with some criticism from parents and teachers alike.
According to The Los Angeles Times editorial board, the Acceleration Days initiative focused on helping students make up some instruction lost during the pandemic would add additional days to the school calendar – two during winter break and two during spring break. The district is currently surveying parents and teachers to determine who will participate in the program.
Parents have the option to opt out their children, and many already have, according to the editorial.
“Frustrated parents say answers aren’t forthcoming from the schools, which also seem to have limited information. A district webpage provides some details, but these may not be enough for some parents to make decisions soon about how best to juggle work, holiday plans and kids’ vacation during winter break,” the Times said.
“Acceleration Days are designed to help address learning loss associated with the pandemic by providing additional instruction and enrichment opportunities for students,” a press release for Acceleration Day reads. “Numerous studies have shown that additional learning time leads to increased academic achievement. These extra days provide students the opportunity to gain personalized support and focus on areas for improvement and enrichment. Furthermore, their placement during transition times provides an opportunity for analysis of formative data that allows for identification of the students who stand to benefit most.”
Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho called the initiative a “win” for students.
“Since arriving at Los Angeles Unified, I have been very clear: the District’s top priority is to provide all students with opportunities that will set them up for success,” Carvalho said in a statement. “Students must not be hampered by academic status, adverse academic experiences, learning disabilities or any demographic descriptor. Every student deserves the ability to better their life. I am heartened by the collaborative effort with labor partners, which will deliver a focused, impactful approach to Acceleration Days. This move is definitely a ‘win’ for our students.”
The district has planned to use COVID funds to support the initiative that some argue has been ambiguous at best, with parents asserting they have been given inadequate details about what their children could expect to gain from participating, according to the Times.
“Though parents have recently received a barrage of texts, emails, and phone calls from the district urging them to sign up, they have been given little information about what the program entails,” the outlet said, adding that, “None of the communiques contain specific information that parents need to decide whether to send their children to the program, parents say.”
Criticism also came from some teachers, with teachers’ unions having reportedly pushed back against its implementation by threatening to boycott the additional learning days.
“This isn’t the first time that the district has tried to move ahead on this initiative without consulting key parties,” the Times added.
“Supt. Alberto Carvalho promised a ‘year of acceleration’ at the beginning of the school year, with plans to set voluntary learning days throughout the school year,” the editors wrote. “However, a plan to extend the school year by four days ran into trouble because, as the teachers’ union rightly said, it first should have been discussed during labor negotiations.
“United Teachers Los Angeles then threatened to boycott the first voluntary learning day on Oct. 19, before LAUSD canceled that plan.”
The editors argued the district should have consulted teachers unions and parents in more upfront ways, calling the effort to bring the district’s students to a desired level a “monumental task” considering they belong to the second-largest district in the U.S.
Union officials have different plays, the LA Times reported, and are dedicated to increasing teacher pay, increased healthy food options for students, and more.