SAN DIEGO – Addressing the fallout of a challenging year for public education, San Diego Unified district leaders Tuesday outlined a more than $350 billion recovery proposal for the federal government ahead of the incoming Biden administration.
In remarks made during the virtual State of the District Address, Superintendent Cindy Marten called the coronavirus pandemic “the greatest adaptive challenge any of us in public education will face in our lifetimes.”
Marten, who has led the district since 2013, said it would take more than $350 billion over the next two years to help students and teachers recover after a year of virtual learning.
“The COVID-19 crisis is an existential threat to everything we value in our public school system,” she said. “It threatens excellence and equity. Our nation simply cannot afford a lost generation of learners nor can we afford an incomplete recovery that leaves communities of color behind, extending 400 years of inequality far into the future.”
She added, “San Diego can show the nation how to solve this problem, but we can’t do it alone.”
In a memo to the Biden administration, the district calls on the federal government to implement a “robust” COVID-19 testing, tracking and tracing strategy, to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Impact Aid program for military families and to provide billions in relief funding to schools to offset lost revenue and increased costs.
The district’s plan suggests the federal government triple Title I funding as well as making the fund “permanent,” in addition to guaranteeing access to early childhood education for 3- and 4-year-olds.
“We can create an educational recovery plan that meets the needs of all of our students by focusing on equity,” she said. “We can accelerate learning and keep students moving forward by investing in strong classroom instruction. We urge the next administration to work with Congress to implement the core elements of the San Diego plan in the first 100 days.”
The district also welcomed back a notable alumnus to speak words of encouragement to students and teachers.
San Diego mayor-elect Todd Gloria, who attended Hawthorne Elementary School and Madison High School, called himself a proud product of the district. He said students this year have had to overcome “great adversity” and that “stakeholders from across our city have worked together in an unstoppable fashion to fulfill the need of our students.”
“Although the pandemic is not over and that we will surely face additional obstacles in the months ahead, I know San Diegans will step up and do whatever it takes to ensure our students are not left behind,” Gloria said.
The State of the District Address is posted below in its entirety.