Afterschool partners are essential partners

Education has long been a talking point for politicians without much action for change. Recently with California’s legislators discussing AB104, issues like learning loss, educational and digital inequities are shifting from being the elephant in the room to being in the spotlight. 

We know that COVID is having a drastic impact on student learning and that students are falling behind, not completing schoolwork, and are lacking the essential structures needed to succeed in school. 

Think Together CEO Randy Barth wrote a guest blog post in EdCal talking about this very issue. Educators have done an incredible job pivoting and adapting to meet the moment, but without additional support from the state and federal governments, the avalanche of learning loss coupled with the physical and emotional trauma the last year that students and teachers alike have faced will be overwhelming. 

Think Together over the last year has worked closely with school district partners to help mitigate learning loss as much as possible. Beyond that, Think Together has helped with conducting family wellness checks, connecting families to community resources, assist with meal distribution and more. 

Now with AB104 on the docket to supercharge summer learning, Think Together and other afterschool providers are prepared to utilize our infrastructures and partnerships with schools to set up quality summer school programs to bridge the learning gaps exacerbated by the digital divide many students have experienced. 

Last week, Think Together General Manager Stacy Galdamez spoke in a panel for PACE alongside Femi Vance from American Institutes for Research, Noreen Iwai-Ito, Senior Director of Support Services for Baldwin Park Unified School District and Jennifer Pack, President and CEO of Partnership for Children and Youth. 

In this panel, Stacy and Noreen talked about the partnership in Baldwin Park with Think Together’s in-person learning hubs. With the current success at the elementary and middle school levels, Think Together will soon be opening up in-person learning hubs for high school in the next few weeks. If you have an hour to watch the recording of the panel, we highly recommend it. 

We’ve also had success with our in-person learning hub in Temecula, with our hub being highlighted in Patch.  

“The positive impact of this new program for both students and parents was obvious and immediate. Think Together has been a valued resource after school for our students, parents, and teachers for the past decade. During these challenging times, this new approach provides students with support and additional learning time in the classroom, parents receive top-notch childcare that is focused on supporting their child’s learning, and teachers have ‘partners’ in the classroom to support their daily lessons provided through virtual learning,” says Temecula Valley Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Jodi McClay. 

Even with the vaccine on the horizon, we know that getting students back on track is going to be a long journey this summer and throughout the 2021-22 school year. But we are confident that with strong partnerships, cutting-edge thinking, and state-funding, together we can make an impact.