Residents Want Transparent, Accountable Process for Federal Rescue Dollars; Priorities Include Overhauling Region’s High Schools, Tutoring Support for All Children, and Mental Health Counseling 

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY [JUNE 1, 2021] – A new poll released today by the nonprofit San Joaquin A+ shows that 67% of parents feel comfortable with children returning to school in-person full-time, and most parents are concerned that their children have fallen behind because of the pandemic.

Residents of the greater Stockton area also want school district leaders to run a transparent, accountable process for allocating a once-in-a-generation infusion of federal funds coming to the region from the American Rescue Plan. The poll, conducted by Change Research, surveyed 573 adults in the Stockton, Lodi, Manteca, and Lincoln school districts.

“San Joaquin County residents are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the pandemic, but they’re also grappling with what that means for their children’s academic futures,” said Don Shalvey, CEO of San Joaquin A+. “Our poll shows that residents are deeply concerned about the impact of learning loss, and they want to see their school districts use federal rescue dollars to not only mitigate that loss, but to transform our education systems to better prepare our students for success in today’s economy.”

In total, school districts in and around Stockton are set to receive roughly $400 million in federal dollars to combat learning loss and recover from the pandemic. San Joaquin A+ surveyed residents to understand how they’re feeling about education at this point in the pandemic, how they want district leaders to proceed when it comes to determining how federal funding is used, and what priorities they would like to see addressed.

“When we see dissatisfaction from parents and community members, it is often because they have not historically been included in the decision making about how their children are educated,” shared Jasmine Dellafosse, community activist and organizer with Gathering for Justice, shared during a webinar discussing the results. “I believe the real opportunity that lies before us with the American Rescue Plan funds, is not just to make investments in schools and services, but to use this moment to engage families in the decisions that are being made to make sure that our schools are actually providing the services our children need to learn and grow.”

Key survey findings include:

  • Most Parents Are Ready for Schools to Open: The majority of parents (67%) in San Joaquin County feel comfortable with their children returning to schools in person. A plurality (47%) believe schools have not re-opened quickly enough, while 28% feel school reopened at the right pace and 25% feel schools reopened too quickly.
  • Parents Feel Their Children Need Immediate Support: 66% of parents with school age children are worried their children have fallen behind. And they place a very high priority in the areas of social and emotional support in schools, and 1-on-1 academic tutoring to help catch children up.
  • Parents Want Engagement and Transparency Around Federal Dollars: 77% of parents say it is important for local stakeholders like parents and teachers to have a seat at the table in conversations about how money is spent. Questions about transparency and accountability around federal dollars stand out as areas of priority for residents throughout the survey.
  • San Joaquin County Residents are Ready for Innovation and Change: 72% of those surveyed think we should use these dollars to drive innovation in schools, to try new and creative approaches to educate students.
  • Parents are Focused on Jobs and the Future for Their Children: Parents not only have immediate concerns about getting students back on track, but share a strong priority for programs that will create pathways to jobs, and more affordable college access. Questions that mentioned programs that prepare students for jobs and careers consistently were ranked near the top priorities throughout the survey.

“Looking at the survey data, there are themes about both the concerns parents have for their children and the opportunities our community sees with this money to provide relief and improve outcomes,” Added Kristen Birtwhistle, the President/CEO of the United Way of San Joaquin County. “So the next questions we need to ask ourselves are: how do we bring leaders from across our city to the table to put a strategy together that is innovative and gets real results for students – and how do we measure those results and hold ourselves accountable?”

Full survey results are available here. You can also view a discussion hosted by San Joaquin A+ about the results in the coming days at the website:

About San Joaquin A+:

San Joaquin A+ is a group of educators, business leaders, active citizens and philanthropists. Collectively, the organization has supported education since 1996 and has almost a quarter century of experience and commitment to Stockton and SJ County. In order to create a system of great schools in our county, San Joaquin A+ collaborates with local families, education, and workforce partners to set a vision for how our community can prepare students to be successful and responsible citizens