Education Trust–West responds to Governor Newsom’s 2020-2021 Academic Year Announcement regarding Distance Learning


Statement from Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, on Governor Newsom’s Announcement that Most School Buildings will not Reopen at the Start of the 2020-2021 Academic Year

“It is clear now that distance learning will be a part of our children’s education for the foreseeable future, and our state needs to provide the resources to ensure it is done well and equitably for all students — especially students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English language learners. Governor Newsom and the legislature have taken important steps to provide much-needed funding to support schools in the fall, but we have more work to do to close the digital divide and to ensure the live, daily instruction that students require to learn and thrive. This moment is a test of our values. If we truly believe in the promise of equal opportunity for all students, now is our chance to prove it.”



In a survey of California parents this spring, The Education Trust–West (ETW) found that alarming percentages of students of Black and Latinx students and students from low-income families lack sufficient devices and internet access to successfully engage in distance learning. Parents identified interaction with teachers as a top priority, but Black families were less likely to have been contacted by teachers, and just 31% of all parents reported that their school or district was providing instructional materials for English learners.


Last week, ETW provided recommendations to improve the California Department of Education’s draft template for local educational agencies’ Learning Continuity and Attendance plans.

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.