The annual meeting of the American Education Research Association (AERA) was to be held in San Francisco this week, but, like all events, the in-person conference was cancelled so that its members could stay safe and focus on urgent transformations in their lives and work situations during this crisis. One of the sessions was set to discuss how California has developed and implemented a different kind of K-12 policy framework than did the rest of the country—and that implementation approaches varied across the state. The proposed symposium would have viewed the California Way through the eyes of different groups: state policy, research, capacity building, and practice.

It would have featured:

  • Nancy Albarrán, Superintendent of San Jose Unified School District, planned to talk about working with district leadership to improve student learning and using an equity-based framework for implementing the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).
  • Roberta C. Furger of the Learning Policy Institute was preparing to share lessons from the state’s implementation of LCFF, based on her research with colleagues.
  • Michael Kirst, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University and former President of the State Board of Education, planned to discuss the state politics behind California’s recent education reforms, and how state leaders used policy windows to enact largescale reforms.
  • Matt Navo, former Superintendent at Sanger Unified School District, was set to discuss LCFF in light of Sanger’s success in becoming a statewide exemplar with regard to equity and implementation.
  • Sujie Shin of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence was planning to discuss statewide supports to support capacity building with local education agencies.

Andrea Venezia, a co-author of this post and director of EdInsights, pulled together the panel as its moderator. In this time of crisis, we want to give a shout-out to our colleagues and partners in this work. And we want to give a shout-out to the many students and people working to safeguard loved ones, to save lives, and to address people’s basic needs during this pandemic –whether in education, healthcare, food service, sanitation, manufacturing or many other essential areas.

The most challenging issues facing California and our education systems cannot be solved by people working in isolation—and this may be especially true during a crisis. During this difficult time, conditions are changing quickly. We all face challenges and traumas that none of us can address effectively alone. As we consider what’s next for educators and students, sharing what we’re learning across roles and entities remains especially important now, to help us prepare as effectively for this summer and fall, and to ensure that we’re attending to the needs of our most vulnerable.