How Are We Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Children and Supporting Families?


By Dr. LaWana ‘Firyali’ Richmond

We are in a moment that highlights problems with our systems across the board.  Education is no exception. Knowing education is the greatest driver of social mobility in our society, we can’t afford more roadblocks.

The question of the day is this: What are we doing to make sure at-risk students don’t fall even farther behind? Researchers, educators, and parents have all expressed concern about the impact of distance learning and pandemic conditions on any progress for students on the lower end of the achievement gap.

Flashback to before COVID-19 took center stage, the California Schools Dashboard increased the number of San Diego Unified School District traditional schools in the worst schools of the state bucket from nine to twelve. Of those twelve schools, seven of them are in District E, where our students struggle with language barriers, learning disabilities, childhood trauma, housing and food insecurity as well as social and emotional trauma.

Last week, some districts from throughout the nation found less than half of their student are logging in for online classes.  We have an opportunity to do better. How will we proactively innovate and support our youth towards continued academic progress in the midst of a pandemic?

It is up to us to support the efforts of teachers to connect with and provide learning resources to students in our district. 

In order to support a very high-tech approach to education, the ways community members can support access and progress may be super low tech.

1.     Phone a friend or relative and check on them to make sure the technology is not overwhelming them.

2.     Offer to proofread or review homework.

3.     Ask your homebound friends and family if they’d like to take a break while you read to a story or engage in virtual play with their littles.

Remember friends or relatives may be overwhelmed by the technology, subject matter, or just juggling working from home and also supporting one or more children with all of their needs.

Each of us can help.

1.     Remind parents they are not expected to be experts. 

2.     Encourage them to engage in self-care.

3.     ASK for HELP.

Let’s all remember we are in this together and there are a variety of ways we can help.

Dr. LaWana Richmond is the Organizational Development Manager for Transportation Services at UC San Diego where she coaches current and emerging leaders on employee engagement, process engineering, change management, and innovation.  She is currently running for District E Trustee seat on San Diego Unified School District’s Board of Education. for more information. 


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