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Kern High School District grades report shows increase in failing grades: some parents say distance learning is not working

Posted at 5:59 AM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 08:59:07-05

The Kern High School District is the largest district in the county, so when KHSD parent, Shannon Boren heard that there’s been a 14 percent increase in D’s and F’s in fall 2020 compared to 2019, she found it upsetting.

“This system, this whole distanced learning is failing them,” Boren said.

Boren started the “Open Our Schools Bakersfield" Facebook page two weeks ago, after talking with other concerned parents, speaking out at board meetings and reaching out to administration about resuming in person learning.

“I always joke that I never wanted to be that parent, but I had to be that parent,” Boren said. “It’s my kid’s future and the future of kids without a voice."

Boren said her freshman at Centennial High School has been doing okay, but she knows that’s not the case for all students. As a longtime educator herself, Boren worried for students who are failing or experiencing depression.

“it scares me to even say it, but some are suicidal,” Boren said. “I know Kern High School counselors who have never had to make so many house calls because students have threatened to commit suicide or are talking about it.”

23ABC reached out to parents on Facebook to see how their children have been doing and the responses were split. One parent responded: "I have three high schoolers, and only one is struggling a little only because he has ADHD, so it’s a bit more challenging for him. I have a 6th grader and he's doing awesome! So, I have no problems with virtual learning."

Another said: “I have four kids and it’s terrible. I have three special needs kids, and I have a 17 year old nonverbal. She broke a computer thinking if she does, it may open up school. My kids aren't learning anything."

Meanwhile, the district said in a Tuesday presser they want to open schools, when they’re able.

“Kids should be back in school in person,” Dr. Brenda Lewis, the Associate Superintendent of Instruction at KHSD said. “That is the absolute best situation for our students, but we cannot reopen until we meet all those safety measures and meet all the requirements by the various organizations.”

Kern County Public Health confirmed Tuesday that our county case rate per 100,000 is now at 18.5, meaning TK-6 schools can resume in-person learning. but high schools must wait until Kern County is fully in the red tier to reopen.

As far as teachers are concerned, here’s what Independence High School P.E. teacher, Kristine Jacobson said: “Most of us do have a lot of compassion for kids struggling at home. Even the teachers that do not want to go back.”

Jacobson has been wanting to return to in-person instruction since the beginning.

“Our job is important. Being with our kids is important, not just in a [Zoom] meeting with them,” Jacobson said. “I know everybody is doing the best they can, but all teachers know that especially for those at-risk kids, school is their safe haven.”

Here’s a full breakdown of the KHSD's grade data and the two other major school districts.