Two of the state’s largest districts have unveiled plans for multimillion-dollar summer school programs, signaling this could be one of California’s main strategies to address a year of learning loss during the pandemic.

San Francisco Unified announced a $50 million initiative Wednesday to offer in-person classes, summer camps and child care to all 52,000 K-12 public school students free of charge, with online options for those who choose. On Tuesday, San Diego Unified approved a $22 million summer school program with in-person and online options, intended to help students improve their grades and increase the number of graduating high school seniors; currently, 20% aren’t on track to graduate in June.

Gov. Gavin Newsom doubled down on the idea of extending the school year or individual school days at a Wednesday press conference in Los Angeles, citing the $4.6 billion for learning loss included in the reopening package he signed earlier this month. (California will get another $15 billion for K-12 school reopenings from the federal stimulus package President Joe Biden is expected to sign Friday.)

  • Newsom: “It was very encouraging to see … the national … teachers’ unions announce their commitment to looking at the summer a little bit differently and the school day a little differently. … We certainly hope that spirit is manifest here in California.”

The news comes as some of the state’s largest districts reach reopening deals after months of standoffs. Los Angeles Unified announced on Tuesday a tentative deal to reopen campuses, a move that came a few days after San Francisco Unified unveiled an agreement of its own. In a likely indication of just how fraught negotiations have been, the San Francisco schools superintendent announced his retirement Wednesday.


The coronavirus bottom line: As of Wednesday, California had 3,513,678 confirmed cases (+0.2% from previous day) and 54,621 deaths (+0.4% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker. The state has administered 10,772,859 vaccines.

Plus: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. We’re also tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county and lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions.

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1. Reducing CA’s child poverty

Image via iStock

California’s child poverty rate could be slashed in half by the $1.9 trillion relief package the House of Representatives sent to Biden’s desk on Wednesday — marking a potential turning point for the Golden State, which has the nation’s highest poverty rate when accounting for the cost of living. Roughly two-thirds of California’s families with children will receive monthly cash aid for a year with no strings attached, something the state’s progressives had long dreamed of, but never managed to achieve, CalMatters’ Jackie Botts reports. The expanded child tax credit, paired with California’s $600 Golden State stimulus payments, could help hundreds of thousands of undocumented families — who were shut out of earlier relief efforts — turn a financial corner amid the pandemic.

The relief package will also funnel $26 billion into the state government and $16 billion into local governments, helping beleaguered counties and cities plug multimillion-dollar deficits. The federal dollars will buoy California’s economic recovery, with the Golden State on track to experience near-record growth this year and recover at a faster clip than the U.S. overall, according to a quarterly forecast UCLA researchers released Wednesday. Still, California’s GOP congressional delegation voted against the package, which House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield referred to as a “blue state bailout.”

2. Asian-American Dems back Newsom

State Controller Betty Yee is taking on the weed industry after being injured in a car crash involving a driver suspected of being under the influence of marijuana. Photo by Trevor Eischen for CALmatters
State Controller Betty Yee. Photo by Trevor Eischen for CalMatters

In yet another sign that the Newsom recall is perceived as a serious threat, 124 Asian and Pacific Islander elected officials and community leaders denounced the effort Wednesday as a “partisan political power grab” — a line pulled straight from Newsom’s State of the State speech the night before. Among those defending the governor were two top Democrats, State Controller Betty Yee and State Treasurer Fiona Ma, effectively ruling them out as party alternatives to Newsom should the recall qualify for the ballot. Yee’s appearance at the event was particularly significant, given that her office sparred with Newsom’s administration for months over payment of a controversial $35 million voter education contract. Still, Yee seemed to temper her support of Newsom — while many of the officials avoided implying the governor could have done certain things better, Yee didn’t.

  • Yee: “This is a time where there is no leadership course that has been charted for how you govern during crisis. This is a new experience, and Governor Newsom last night at his State of the State address admitted he’s made mistakes. And that’s to be expected.”

3. College campus police mostly white

Campus police look on as a crowd forms at a religious demonstration at CSU Fullerton on Oct. 22, 2018. Photo by Riley Mcdougall, The Daily Titan

From CalMatters student journalists Omar Rashad and Katherine Swartz: Although less than a quarter of all students at the University of California and California State University are white, close to half of all sworn police officers at those campuses are, according to data obtained by student reporters with the CalMatters College Journalism Network. Some students and officers say campus police departments should diversify their ranks to better serve the community; other students question whether campuses should be patrolled by police in the first place.

  • José Simon Carmona, a Cal State East Bay student: “Diversity is important, because officers are representing and serving in our community, but it doesn’t fix all the issues. … It’s very hard to reform an institution that’s meant to basically oppress.”

CalMatters student journalist Julian Mendoza, who attends Chico State, wrote about being labeled as a “suspicious individual” while biking on campus.

  • Mendoza: “To be tracked down by three officers for something as minor as biking on an empty campus just made me feel like I didn’t belong here.”

CalMatters commentary

Protect independent contractors: California must find new ways to extend labor protections and benefits to workers who never fit into the traditional employer model, argue Angie Kim of the Center for Cultural Innovation and Amanda Briggs of the Urban Institute.

Other things worth your time

Will Biden campaign for Newsom in a recall? White House isn’t saying. // San Francisco Chronicle

Oakland Coliseum vaccination site finding Black, Latino residents underrepresented. // San Francisco Chronicle

California counties keep pushing back on Newsom’s vaccine plan. // Sacramento Bee

Still unclear when indoor dining will be allowed in L.A. County despite COVID-19 gains. // Los Angeles Times

Salesforce to cut even more San Francisco real estate by subleasing part of 30-story tower. // San Francisco Chronicle

Assembly bill proposes cash bonuses to help retain burned-out health care workers. // Orange County Register

San Diego Unified changes name of Junipero Serra High School, removes conquistador mascot. // San Diego Union-Tribune

San Francisco Supervisor will track colleagues to find out how much men talk and interrupt. // San Francisco Chronicle

A shooter in the Malibu hills. // New Yorker

See you tomorrow.

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Emily Hoeven wrote the daily WhatMatters newsletter for three years at CalMatters . Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco...