Superintendent Thurmond Appoints Chief Counsel – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Keith Yamanaka as Chief Counsel for the Legal Division of the California Department of Education (CDE). His division provides legal advice and representation to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, CDE, and State Board of Education.

Yamanaka will both lead the Legal Division and serve as CDE’s delegate at the CalSTRS Retirement Board. He has a diverse background in legal and executive leadership at a number of state agencies including the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) and the former California Department of Health Services.

“I am excited to have Keith join our CDE team, where he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise,” Thurmond said. “He is a strong leader and manager and will help the CDE carry out our official duties and policy goals to help all students succeed.”

Source: Superintendent Thurmond Appoints Chief Counsel – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

Thurmond Appoints New Communications Director – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that he has appointed Kindra Britt as Director of Communications for the California Department of Education (CDE).

Britt heads a division that handles internal and external communications, including media activities to support State Superintendent Thurmond, and CDE as a whole. She replaces outgoing Director Bill Ainsworth.

Britt most recently served as Community Affairs Director for the Placer County Office of Education, where she started nearly 12 years ago as a Career Technical Education Instructor. Britt brings a unique perspective to her new role at CDE, having previously served in the classroom. In addition to her work in Placer County, over the last few months, she was on loan to Butte County as a Public Information Officer to assist Paradise Unified School District (PUSD) during the aftermath of the catastrophic Camp Fire. She managed media relations from all over the world in response to the devastation caused by the fire.PUSD had 3,500 students displaced after the fire, and Britt helped support the district in communications to first locate families and then provide them with vital information for recovery efforts and the return to school.

Source: Thurmond Appoints New Communications Director – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

Nearly $11 Million Early Childhood Education Grant – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) was awarded a federal Preschool Development Birth Through Five Initial Grant Award for $10,620,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. It was one of 45 states/territories that received the grant award.

These grants help states analyze and enhance their early learning and care systems to maximize the availability of high-quality early learning and care options for low-income and disadvantaged families. It will also help California improve the quality of early childhood care by streamlining administrative and funding systems.

“This grant helps streamline access to early education through more effective and efficient operations,” said Thurmond. “That in turn will help us take a step towards meeting the crucial goal of expanding these programs and reducing the achievement gap.”

Source: Nearly $11 Million Early Childhood Education Grant – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

Thurmond Appoints Deputy Supt of Govt Affairs – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed a new Deputy Superintendent for the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Government Affairs Division.

Khieem Jackson will lead the Government Affairs Division and serve as CDE’s liaison with local, state, and federal elected officials and government agencies. Jackson brings a wealth of expertise to CDE, with a diverse background in federal, state, and local government advocacy, along with extensive international experience as an officer in the United States Marine Corps (USMC).

“I am thrilled to have Khieem Jackson join our team as Deputy Superintendent of Government Affairs,” Thurmond said. “He is a strong advocate for students who need the most assistance, and brings invaluable insight from throughout the world supporting service members and their families.”

Source: Thurmond Appoints Deputy Supt of Govt Affairs – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

Supt Thurmond Calls Governor’s Budget a Home Run – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today praised Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019–20.

“Governor Newsom hit a home run in his first budget in education and across the board. The budget is thoughtful and balanced and makes good use of public funds, but it is appropriately aggressive in its focus on helping Californians who need it most,” he said.

Governor Newsom proposed increasing K–12 education by $2.3 billion, investing $1.8 billion in early education, and providing $3.7 billion to help all districts deal with rising pension costs, which are stressing budgets of districts throughout the state. The pension aspect of his budget includes a proposed a one-time $3 billion contribution to CalSTRS and $700 million in each of fiscal year 2019–20 and 2020–21 to reduce the rates districts are charged for their employees’ pensions.

Source: Supt Thurmond Calls Governor’s Budget a Home Run – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

Lupita Cortez Alcala Appointed as Chief Deputy – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

Lupita Cortez Alcalá was sworn in as Chief Deputy to California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond on Wednesday, January 9, at the State Board of Education meeting after the board approved her appointment. She will be the first Latina to serve in the position.

“Lupita is a proven education leader with the experience, dedication, and talent to serve effectively as Chief Deputy Superintendent of the California Department of Education,” said Thurmond. “She has deep knowledge of education policy and a record filled with achievements.”

Cortez Alcalá has 20 years of experience in education. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission, and a prominent voice in the statewide discussion on college cost and financial aid reform. She also served as Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.

Source: Lupita Cortez Alcala Appointed as Chief Deputy – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

Tony Thurmond Sworn In as CA State Superintendent – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

Tony Thurmond, educator and public school parent, took his oath of office as California’s twenty-eighth State Superintendent of Public Instruction Monday, saying that it is an honor to lead the state’s 6.2 million students and over 10,000 schools.

He said his own life story underscored the vital need for all students, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or immigration status, to have a first-class education.

“I grew up in poverty and without my parents,” he said. “But I was raised by a cousin, an amazing woman, who made certain that I got a great education. That’s what got me where I am today, and that’s what I want for my two daughters and all students. I pledge to devote all my energy, talent, experience, and all the powers of my office to ensure all students get a great education.”

“But I need help. I’m asking everyone to join me. Help with your local schools. If you can, find a way to be a mentor, a volunteer, or contribute to a fundraiser.”

Source: Tony Thurmond Sworn In as CA State Superintendent – Year 2019 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Criticizes Safety Commission Report – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement today on the report of the federal School Safety Commission. The commission was put together as a response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Florida on February 14, 2018, which took the lives of 14 students and three teachers, while injuring dozens of others.

“I am extremely disappointed that the School Safety Commission report contains a misguided recommendation to eliminate a policy that has nothing to do with the continuing tragedy of school shootings—the quest for disciplining students in a proportionate, fair manner. At the same time it ignores one of the key contributors to school shootings—easy access to military-style assault weapons.

I strongly oppose this recommendation and the Department of Education’s reported plans to rescind the Obama administration’s guidance encouraging schools to work to reduce the disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates for students of color and students with disabilities that are found throughout our nation.

Source: Torlakson Criticizes Safety Commission Report – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Announces 2019 U.S. Senate Youth – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named two outstanding high school students to represent California in the 57th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Lauren Kong of Rancho Palos Verdes (Los Angeles County), a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in the Palos Verdes Unified School District, and Cindy Aguilar-Castaneda of Gonzales (Monterey County), a senior at Gonzales High School in the Gonzales Unified School District, were selected for their outstanding leadership qualities, scholastic achievement, and contributions to their schools and communities.

“These outstanding students are among the best and brightest leaders in their schools and communities and have a heart for public service,” Torlakson said. “They are strong advocates who desire to make our world a better place. I am amazed at all they have done in their young lives and look forward to seeing what they will accomplish in their future. I know they will achieve great things due to their commitment and dedication. They make me optimistic for our future.”

Torlakson also selected two alternates in the event that one or both of the delegates are unable to attend. The first alternate is Channing Lee of Fullerton (Orange County), a senior at Cornelia Connelly School in Anaheim. The second alternate is Gabriel Drill of La Cañada Flintridge (Los Angeles County), a senior at La Cañada High School in the La Cañada Unified School District.

Source: Torlakson Announces 2019 U.S. Senate Youth – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State launches updated School Dashboard – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A newly revised “report card” on schools, the California School Dashboard, just got a little easier to use, with broader measures of district and school effectiveness, state Department of Education and state Board of Education leaders said on Thursday.

The launching of the second version of the Dashboard, a website found at www.cde.ca.gov, gives parents, students, and educators access to key school and district data in ways more telling than results from a single standardized test, the officials said.

The 2018 Dashboard includes two new metrics for evaluating school and district performance and a new, user-friendly look that makes complex data easier to understand, Scott Roark, a CDE spokesman, noted in a press release.

Source: State launches updated School Dashboard – The Reporter

CDE Tobacco-Use Prevention Programs Are a Success – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that schools funded by the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Office have lower rates of tobacco use than other schools, according to a comprehensive study by the University of California, San Diego. The findings were based on two statewide surveys, the 2016 California Student Tobacco Survey and the 2016 California Educator Tobacco Survey.

“This new study proves that our diligent efforts to promote tobacco-free schools are paying off,” said Torlakson. “Thanks to the work the tobacco prevention office has been doing since 1989, students are smoking less, and most public schools have signed up as tobacco-free. We also know that vaping is unsafe and unhealthy, and we need to continue encouraging all schools to include vaping bans in their tobacco-free schools policies.”

The study compared schools funded by the CDE’s TUPE Office with those that are not. It found about 10 percent more teachers in schools funded by the program reported their schools placed high priority on specific tobacco-prevention efforts such as targeting at-risk youth, providing peer-to-peer programs, holding schoolwide activities, and referring tobacco users to cessation services. Students at schools funded by the program were significantly less likely to smoke cigarettes or vape. The study also stressed the need to further strengthen education and prevention efforts regarding certain e-cigarettes products that are currently attracting attention from youth.

Source: CDE Tobacco-Use Prevention Programs Are a Success – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Celebrate the Reopening of Schools in Butte County – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Superintendent-elect Tony Thurmond praised Butte County school leaders and community members for working selflessly and heroically so that their students could return to school on Monday, December 3, less than a month after the worst fire in California history.

Fourteen schools were damaged or destroyed during the Camp Fire and all 99 schools in Butte County were closed since the fire began, displacing 31,670 students.

“The reopening of schools in Butte County so soon after this terrible tragedy provides a bright ray of hope. It shows the resilience and determination of school leaders and community members, and the generosity and kindness of so many people who gave and continue to give,” said Torlakson.

Source: Celebrate the Reopening of Schools in Butte County – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Funding Will Continue for the Closed Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today reminded educators who close schools because of dangerous air quality that they can apply for a waiver to ensure they do not lose funding because of a drop in attendance. He also pledged that they would be assisted by administrators from the California Department of Education.

State law allows schools to continue to receive state funds from the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) if they have to close because of a natural disaster such as floods, fires, earthquakes or other extraordinary conditions, such as hazardous air quality.

The California Department of Education does not keep precise numbers of school closings, but schools are closed in 22 counties.

Source: State Funding Will Continue for the Closed Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Addressing Early Learning and Child Care Disparity – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated the California Department of Education and the Tribal Child Care Association of California for securing funds to address early learning disparities in tribal populations. Their Project HOPE grant provides the State of California the opportunity to strengthen its partnership with the Tribal Child Care Association of California to engage and continue work with tribes to support early learning and child care.

The association is made up of child care professionals specializing in working with tribal families, children, and communities. It focuses on the needs of tribally regulated child care and education settings both on and off tribal lands. The grant will be funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation via the BUILD Initiative.

“The State of California has never partnered with California tribes at such a deep level to support early learning,” said Torlakson. “The work funded by the Project HOPE grant builds on California’s groundbreaking memorandum of understanding with the Tribal Child Care Association of California, which was signed in November 2017 and formalized the CDE’s partnership with a group of tribal sovereign nations in California.”

Source: Addressing Early Learning and Child Care Disparity – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Announces Approval of NGSS Materials – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the State Board of Education (SBE) voted to approve the first-ever instructional materials which incorporate California’s groundbreaking Next Generation Science Standards for grades K–8. “California is the first state in the nation to adopt a science framework and approve instructional materials based on the Next Generation Science Standards,” Torlakson said. “I am excited about the new standards, which train students to act like scientists by posing questions and developing their own experiments. In addition, they emphasize climate change and environmental literacy, along with engineering and strategies to support girls and young women in science.”This was the largest state adoption for a content area with 34 programs submitted for review. The SBE approved 29 programs. Districts will have many options of curriculum resources to meet the needs of their students. The approval of instructional materials comes after the Science Framework was approved by the SBE in 2016.

Source: Torlakson Announces Approval of NGSS Materials – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

CA Schools Nationally Recognized for Success – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated two California schools for receiving national recognition for achievement in 2018. A.J. Cook Elementary School in Garden Grove and Adams Elementary School in Santa Barbara are two of up to 100 schools throughout the country being recognized as National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished Schools—formerly known as National Title I Distinguished Schools.

“Congratulations to Principal Sandi Ishii and Principal Kelly Fresch, as well as the entire team of educators, administrators, staff, parents, employees, and of course, students at these schools,” said Torlakson. “They are shining examples of positive changes underway in California’s education system, and what happens when everyone works together to achieve student success.”

A project of the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators, the ESEA Distinguished Schools Program publicly recognizes qualifying federally funded schools for the outstanding academic achievements of their students. It highlights schools across the country achieving exceptional student performance, as well as those closing the achievement gap between student groups.

Source: CA Schools Nationally Recognized for Success – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Appoints Technology Services Director – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that he has appointed Rodney Okamoto as Director of the Technology Services Division. His division provides the California Department of Education with Information Technology (IT) leadership, technical services, and a state-of-the-art infrastructure that enables it to deliver effective education services in California.

Okamoto most recently served as IT Manager II, overseeing the Information Systems and Services Office in the Technology Services Division. During his more than 20 years at the California Department of Education, he has chaired the multi-state Smarter Balanced Technology Workgroup and served as California’s IT Readiness Coordinator. His efforts were a major reason California was recognized for the most successful implementation of computer-based assessments in the country.

“Rodney has demonstrated a wealth of knowledge, technical expertise, and leadership skills. His team-oriented personality will help the CDE fulfill its mission of providing California students a world-class education in our multicultural, multilingual, and highly connected world,” Torlakson said. “Utilizing technology strengthens education for our students, as well as the educational support happening in our Department and at schools throughout California.”

Source: Torlakson Appoints Technology Services Director – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

Torlakson Applauds Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated the California Department of Education (CDE) 2018 California Expanded Learning award winners.

“Expanded learning programs are an important extension of a student’s typical school day. The programs provide additional academic support, cultural enrichment, and social and emotional learning opportunities,” said Torlakson. “These awards are a way to recognize the talented and dedicated staff who are helping students learn, thrive, and succeed inside and outside the classroom.”

Studies show that expanded learning programs increase student attendance, cut dropout rates, reduce juvenile crime, and boost academic success.

The awards are part of Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide event celebrating the role of afterschool programs in keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families.

Source: Torlakson Applauds Expanded Learning Leaders – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

CA History-Social Science Frameworks Win Prize – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California History-Social Science Project (University of California, Davis) have won the American Historical Association’s Beveridge Family Teaching Prize for distinguished K–12 history teaching. The two organizations collaborated to create the groundbreaking History­-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, which was approved by the State Board of Education in 2016 and published last year.

“California is leading the way in helping our students recognize the diversity of our great state and nation,” Torlakson said. “Thanks to the partnership between the California Department of Education and the California History-Social Science project, California students will learn from the latest research and have a deeper understanding of the important contributions and challenges faced by many individuals and ethnic groups that have sometimes been overlooked. These include every major ethnic group, as well as members of the LGBT community and people with disabilities.”

Among other things, this framework adds more detail on Latino history, the Armenian Genocide, the role Filipinos played in World War II, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and African American history—including slave narratives and firsthand accounts of uprisings, and protests during the Civil Rights movement.

Source: CA History-Social Science Frameworks Win Prize – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

2019 California Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named five extraordinary educators as the 2019 California Teachers of the Year.

Torlakson, who began his career as a science teacher and coach, said he is pleased to honor five outstanding and talented teachers who have made a great impact in their schools and communities.

“These five remarkable teachers deserve thanks and admiration for their deep commitment, hard work, and creativity,” he said. “They make profound differences in their students’ lives and provide students the tools they need to succeed. They’re an inspiration and an example of the exceptional work going on in California schools.”

Presented by California Casualty and the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage new teachers to enter the profession.

Source: 2019 California Teachers of the Year Announced – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)