San Joaquin A+ publishes policy brief about education coming out of the pandemic – and proclaims that local education leaders would be crazy if they don’t get creative in support of students.

Stockton, CA [10/27/20] – Today, San Joaquin A+ (SJA+) released a policy brief titled: Education Coming Out of the Pandemic – We’d be Crazy if We Didn’t Get Creative… The brief is a compilation of the most recent data available for education outcomes across the county and in the Stockton Unified School District, as a way to set a baseline for student learning progress coming out of the pandemic. The report shares a short list of creative recommendations based off of a year of surveys and engagement conducted by SJA+ that will help to spur improvements in student learning.

“I’m grateful to the community leaders and partners who shared their insights to help us create this report,” shared Don Shalvey, CEO of San Joaquin A+. “Over the last few months, we’ve reviewed a myriad of data – local and national, and from students and parents – and those conversations identified a number of creative solutions that I’m confident will help our students overcome the many challenges they’re facing in our schools.”

The brief is broken into four parts, starting with baseline data about SJ County and Stockton Schools, and the impact of COVID on learning locally and nationally. Data shows that before the pandemic, SJ County and SUSD lagged behind the State average in both math and reading, with 30% of SUSD students proficient in reading, and 21% proficient in Math. Data shared this fall at a Stockton USD Board of Trustees meeting further shows the challenge our schools have ahead to get student learning back on track, with just 6.5% of students are on grade level in the District in Math, and 14% on grade level in reading in Stockton schools.


“Parents want to see more resources for their students – from mental health to textbooks to after school programs to post-High School opportunities.” Shared Sahila Shah, during a recent San Joaquin A+ panel discussion about the report. A student at University of Pacific and former Stockton High School student who spent her summer knocking on doors to ask about education in Stockton, she continued “There is a feeling in Stockton of a lack of resources and a lack of voice that parents have.”

The third part of the brief highlights parent and family perceptions from a survey conducted earlier this spring. It shows that:

  • Parents Feel Their Children Need Immediate Support: 66% of parents with school age children are worried their children have fallen behind;
  • 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;
  • 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.

“We need cradle to career solutions. We need to nurture the young folks into the system with good childcare and pre-k so that a higher percentage earn a true family sustaining income,” added Bruce Roberson, former educator in Lincoln USD and former education chair of the Stockton NAACP. “We need to do more to create opportunities and jobs and job training here, because we’re situated right on the global supply chain.”

Lastly, the report goes onto identify a number of creative solutions to improve student outcomes long-term, inclusive of creating clearer pathways to jobs as Mr. Roberson recommends. An overview of the creative ideas listed in the report includes:

  1. Bring the whole community to the table around solutions
  2. Get creative about potential solutions – and to create a system that truly supports our youth from cradle to career.  A few concrete ideas:
    1. Use Technology and Updated Student Assessment Data to Better Differentiate Learning and Provide Social and Emotional Supports for Students
    2. Create Clearer and Cheaper Pathways to College and Career with Early College High Schools
    3. Grow the Quantity, the Quality, and the Integration of Early Learning
  3. To build community trust, it’s vital that districts are fully transparent and accountable for how every dollar in relief money is spent.

“It will truly take an entire community. We need to listen to parents and families. Look at what’s positive and working well elsewhere,” said Macke Raymond, a Distinguished Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution who joined the local panel to provide a national perspective. “And we need to try innovative things, but be unabashedly devoted to trying and sharing what’s working and what’s not working.”

The full education brief can be read here. The presentation shared during the panel discussion on 10/15/21 is available here, and more quotes and reflections from experts San Joaquin A+ will be made available 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.