On the inaugural day of the Brentwood School Summer BCIL course, Confronting COVID-19: Los Angeles in the Time of a Pandemic, students were given a warm welcome by Ms. McKellar, Mr. Hernandez, and Dr. Berger, and then were given the chance to listen to Mr. Steven Almazán, a member of a D.C.-based organization that advocates for equitable opportunities for all students, especially low-income and students of color. He gave a comprehensive overview of the issues many children are facing due to a lack of resources during this time, as well as ways the local, state, and federal governments have played a part in helping solve these problems. With this, Mr. Almazán provided examples of school budgets and explained how a better job needs to be done in managing the money that can help students in need. He brought to our attention that while students go to school to learn, it is also the unfortunate reality that many also go to school in order to get a free or reduced-price meal, and that during this time of distance learning, they can no longer go to school to get the meals they still need.
While the impacts of COVID-19 on the LA community and the nation have been dismal, there have also been some silver linings. For example, the University of California Board of Regents unanimously voted to phase out requirements for the SAT/ACT, as such standardized tests repeatedly disadvantage low-income students without access to excessive test preparation materials. Mr. Almazán also pointed out that because California is a nationwide leader in taking on large forms of change, this new decision could mean other states and large school systems follow suit, which would overall benefit students across the country.
We are so thankful for Mr. Almazán to have taken time out of his day to share his perspective and thoughts with us, and we hope to incorporate his ideas in our future discussions. Thank you!