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SPECIAL REPORT: Parent Organization Advocates for the Academic Needs of Students in South Monterey County

MONTEREY COUNTY, California (KMUV) The pandemic brought many delays to the development and education of students across the country.

According to state test results, students in California performed worse in 2022 than before the pandemic. Including in Monterey County.

In the graph above, you can see the comparison of the percentage of students who met the standard or were above it between 2019 and 2022. Many of the schools were below the state average in 2022.

It was at 33% in language and 12% in mathematics. Additionally, more than 90% of students in South County are Hispanic and socioeconomically disadvantaged, according to the California State Department of Education.

And that's why one parent organization advocates bringing better resources to students in south Monterey County.

Alma Loredo, Building Healthy Communities Padres Unidos

"They are two years behind academically. So the children go back to school, many of them in the structure, many of them with much more needs because they had losses," explains Alma Loredo, one of the leaders of Building Healthy Communities Padres Unidos, who are dedicated to fighting for students in Monterey County schools. "So we think we must over-advocate for after-school tutoring resources, services that support the children."

When we contacted school districts, they told us about their programs available to help students.

In Soledad, during the pandemic, more than 60 high school students from the Interact program were tutoring nearly 300 elementary school students in the City of Soledad. Liliana Negrette was one of the tutors.

Liliana Negrette, Tutor for the Interact program of the Rotary Club at Soledad High School

"It's been very impactful to see how much I'm helping them, and their teachers tell me: oh, so-and-so has been a very good reader. Now he can read or already knows the alphabet," says Negrette, in her junior year of high school in Soledad. "It's great to see student interaction, even if it's through a camera. I was a Zoom-specific tutor both years."

She added that if more parents and teachers in the city knew about the program, they would be able to see the benefit it offers to children.

The beneift is not just academically, according to the Associate Superintendent.

"Socio-emotional too, right?" says Limary Gutierrez, the Soledad Unified School District's Associate Superintendent. "Because a younger student must see how an older student can get involved and change a student's life."

Even librarians know how important it is to be able to talk to someone in person when they have a question about homework.

"Many of us are offering help to the children," says Gisselle Perez, Assistant Librarian II at the King City Library. "They can come in, walk into the library and ask for help from one of us and we'll try to help them the best we can."

Additionally, earlier in the school year, Governor Gavin Newsom announced more than $200 million in grants to provide 24/7 tutoring services. This service is available at all state libraries, such as King City.

The program is called Brainfuse and can be accessed on any computer or mobile. You don't necessarily have to be in the library to use it.

But according to Alma, the partnership between parents and schools is the most important thing for their children's success.

“We are starting to collaborate, and I think there is a lot of future," adds Loredo. "There is much more to come.”

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Melody Waintal

Melody Waintal is the Digital Content Director for Telemund23.com and KION546.com

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