State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today joined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) leadership, and state and federal stakeholders on a visit to Betty Reid Soskin Middle School to hear more about the district’s innovative farm-to-school program.
Soskin Middle School serves 450 students—60 percent of whom are considered to be socioeconomically disadvantaged—and is the frontline of the vital work of feeding students healthy school meals through the California Universal Meals Program. The school is named after Betty Reid Soskin, a pioneering Bay Area civil rights activist and the nation’s oldest National Park Ranger, who was designated as an Ambassador to California Education by Thurmond in September 2021.
“As we celebrate National Nutrition Month and National School Breakfast Week, I take great pride in promoting the fact that California became the first state in the United States to implement a statewide universal meals program for all school-age children within the public education system. As a result, millions of children access two free healthy meals during each school day. And not only that, but we have also supported other states in following suit,” Superintendent Thurmond said. “The Universal Meals Program removes the stigma associated with free and reduced-price school meals and is a critical component in the framework for the Transforming California Schools Initiative designed to create one cohesive educational system with integrated, interdependent strategies.”
Source: Efforts to Support Student Access to Healthy Meals – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond visited the Jordan Academy of Language and Computer Science in the Orange Unified School District on Friday morning. Thurmond joined students, parents, and teachers in celebrating Read Across America Week in remembrance of the late Dr. Seuss.
“A book can be a passport to any part of California or the world or a passport to the past or the future,” Thurmond said. “A book can help us understand where we are from, can teach us our history and the best way forward. Reading takes you on a journey, a lifelong journey of adventure. Books are valuable for many reasons—but I like to read mainly because it is fun.”
Jordan Academy of Language and Computer Science received a California School Boards Association Golden Bell Award as an innovative and sustainable program that makes a demonstrated difference with a focus on meeting the needs of all students.
Source: SPI Honors Read Across America Week – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today released the “Creating Equitable Early Learning Environments for Young Boys of Color: Disrupting Disproportionate Outcomes” publication. This report was created by the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Early Education Division and is the fifth publication in a special topic series titled Best Practices for Planning Curriculum for Young Children (PDF).
The Young Boys of Color report highlights the critical need to disrupt disproportionate discipline patterns and create strength-based and equity-oriented early childhood environments that help Black and Brown boys to thrive. Educators and program leaders are provided with a helpful roadmap for improving racial equity through strengthening racial awareness, addressing implicit bias, and creating culturally responsive environments that are safe, affirming, and engaging for boys of color and their families.
Source: SPI Releases Publication on Young Boys of Color – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that 77 high-performing California middle grades schools have been recognized for 2023 by the California Schools to Watch program. There are 36 new California Schools to Watch this year. An additional 41 schools reapplied to the program, demonstrated their sustained progress, and have been redesignated as 2023 California Schools to Watch. Altogether, there are now 186 California Schools to Watch.
“Congratulations to these schools for building systems that support all students from all backgrounds and who bring a wealth of individual and family assets,” Thurmond said. “These middle grades students attend programs that help them believe in themselves, discover their interests, and work toward their academic, life, and career goals. These middle schools are exceptional role models of how educational innovation and an enthusiastic school community can keep students engaged and learning through a critical stage in their K–12 journey.”
Source: SPI Congratulates 2023 California Schools to Watch – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that 59 schools have been designated as a 2023 Purple Star School. Now in its second year, the California Purple Star School Designation Program (Purple Star Program) publicly recognizes schools that are committed and equipped to meet military-connected students and their families’ unique needs.
“Congratulations to the incredible staff, educators, administrators, parents, and students at these schools,” said Thurmond. “These schools are examples of best practices in supporting our military-connected students, ensuring staff provide students with crucial academic, college, and career supports while their parents serve our country.
”Purple Star Program schools seek to reduce the burden on military-connected students and their families by providing the most critical transition supports for military-connected students and their families. The military is one of the United States’ largest workforces, with more than 2.6 million active-duty service members and individuals serving in the National Guard and Reserves. In 2022, California had 278,397 active-duty service members and individuals serving in the National Guard and Reserves.
Source: SPI Announces 2023 California Purple Star Schools – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced a new partnership at a press event today between the California Department of Education (CDE) and California Volunteers, Office of the Governor, to promote new pathways for California Volunteers service corps members—a group that includes 10,000 per year across all corps, including the California Climate Action Corps, AmeriCorps, #CaliforniansForAll Youth Jobs, and #CaliforniansForAll College Corps—to become teachers in California classrooms.
While the CDE has not traditionally engaged in recruitment, Thurmond has elevated the educator crisis as a key challenge and made the support of local educational agencies a priority of his administration.
Source: CDE, CA Volunteers Partner for Teacher Recruitment – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed education budget for fiscal year 2023–24:
“The promise of education will only be fulfilled if we work together to invest in our students and our schools to build the future we want to see,” said Thurmond. “Building on last year’s record investment in education with a historic $22,893 in per-pupil funding, this year’s budget improves upon that by proposing the highest per-pupil spending for the state of California at $23,723. A record $17,519 of this total is Proposition 98 dollars, and the total is up more than $10,000 from 12 years ago.
“With this budget, California continues to improve our investments in education for our schools, our students, and our teachers.
Source: SPI Reacts to Governor’s Proposed Education Budget – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond was sworn in for his second term as the 28th State Superintendent of Public Instruction in a ceremony in Los Angeles today. U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona was in attendance to administer the oath of office. More than 500 educational leaders, school administrators, principals, state legislators, students, friends, and family members convened for the special event held in the historic Cocoanut Grove Theatre at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles.
“When I took the job as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, I made it clear that education is the key and gateway to a world of opportunities, especially for our vulnerable students and communities. Today, we are much stronger than we ever have been and have created many historic initiatives to transform our schools and uplift our students,” said Thurmond. “As we turn to the next four years, I ask you to help us keep the promise alive for our six million students in the great state of California.”
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho kicked off the event with welcoming remarks. Secretary Cardona administered the oath of office at the ceremony.
Source: Tony Thurmond Sworn In for Second Term – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that more than 350 elementary schools have been selected for the prestigious 2023 California Distinguished Schools Program. The award program is celebrating its return this year after the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily suspended reporting of state and local student data. Since its inception in 1985, the California Distinguished Schools Award remains one of the important ways to celebrate exceptional schools, districts, teachers, and classified employees for their innovation, talent, and success in supporting students.
The exceptional elementary schools recognized this year are illustrative of the hard work, dedication, and resilience shown by educators and schools across the state after communities struggled for multiple years with urgent effects to physical and mental health and unprecedented challenges to delivering education. To select California Distinguished Schools, the California Department of Education (CDE) uses multiple measures to identify eligible schools based on their performance on the state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard (Dashboard). Specifically, schools were selected by analyzing data reported through the 2022 Dashboard, including assessment results, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates, and socioeconomic data. Information regarding the 2022 Dashboard is provided on the CDE California School Dashboard and System of Support web page.
Source: SPI Announces 2023 CA Distinguished Schools – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
Working to protect Californians from the incoming winter storms, Governor Gavin Newsom today proclaimed a state of emergency throughout California to support the ongoing response to recent winter storms.
The emergency proclamation supports emergency relief efforts including authorizing the mobilization of the California National Guard to support disaster response, directing the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) to request immediate assistance through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program to support highway repairs and other support for local response and recovery efforts. The text of today’s proclamation can be found here External link opens in new window or tab.
The Governor has also activated the State Operations Center to its highest level, and the state and federal government have stood up the Flood Operations Center, which covers forecasting, reservoir operations coordination, and provides technical support as well as flood fighting materials like sandbags for local agencies.
Source: State of Emergency Declaration – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)
The California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division is sending this message to announce the availability of School Year 2023–24 School Breakfast Program (SBP) and Summer Meal Programs (SMP) Start-up and Expansion Grants.
The state Legislature appropriates approximately $1.017 million in the annual state budget for SBP and SMP Start-up and Expansion Grants. California Education Code Section 49550.3, authorizes the CDE to award competitive grants of up to $15,000 per school site for nonrecurring expenses incurred when initiating or expanding an SBP or SMP.
Source: 2023–24 School Breakfast Grants Are Now Available! – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)
The 2022 California School Dashboard External link opens in new window or tab., restarted for the first time since 2019 and publicly available today, shows that California’s four- and five-year high school graduation rates hit all-time highs in 2021–22, while the state’s chronic absenteeism rate mirrored national trends. The Dashboard is a key component of the state’s school accountability system, which includes the latest data on graduation rates, suspension rates, test scores, English Learner progress, chronic absenteeism, and local indicators.
The four-year “cohort” graduation rate—which measures the number of students who started as ninth graders and graduated with their peers four years later—climbed to 87 percent, up from 83.6 percent in 2020–21. Every student group showed improvement. Acknowledging high school staff challenges in calculating and assigning grades in the earliest months of the pandemic, the state enacted Assembly Bill 104, altering some specific policies to encourage students in the Class of 2022 to push on toward earning a diploma. The graduation rates likely reflect those accommodations designed to give a boost to students most impacted by COVID-19.
Source: The 2022 California School Dashboard – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and counselors from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District visited homes of families today whose students were identified as being chronically absent. These visits are one of many outreach efforts, which also include online guidance and webinars, taken on by Thurmond and the California Department of Education (CDE) to combat the serious issue of chronic absenteeism, defined as missing at least 10 percent of the instructional days that a student was enrolled to attend school.
Thurmond, who worked for a community-based program that focused on reducing chronic absenteeism prior to serving in the California State Assembly, has made this issue a priority of his administration and has started setting up visits to school districts to volunteer directly on outreach efforts.
“We have to recognize this has been a challenging two years, likely the toughest time these students will face in their lifetime,” Thurmond said. “We have seen serious issues around attendance affect every area throughout our state over the past year. Now it’s important we do everything in our power to get those students back in the classroom.”
Source: SPI Takes Measures to Battle Chronic Absenteeism – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)
Commencing in school year 2022–23, CA Education Code (EC) Section 49501.5 required public school districts, county offices of education (COE), and charter schools serving students in kindergarten through grade 12 to provide a breakfast and lunch, free of charge, during each school day, regardless of a student’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. This is known as the state meal mandate and universal meals. The state meal mandate also applies to public school students in certified nonpublic schools (NPS). This is because the public school students attending the NPS remain under the jurisdiction of the public school district or COE, per EC Section 56365.
Eligible Local Educational Agencies (LEA), specifically public schools, COEs, and charters schools, can be eligible for state reimbursement for meals served to public school students attending an NPS. The NPS must be listed as a site under the sponsorship of the eligible LEA and be a participant in both the school breakfast and national school lunch programs. Please note that the NPS sites are not eligible for state reimbursement for meals served to nonpublic school students, and NPS sponsors are not eligible for state meal reimbursement.
Source: State Reimbursement for Nonpublic School Sites – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced two outstanding high school students to represent California in the 61st annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP). Fiona Lu of Irvine (Orange County), a senior at Northwood High School in the Irvine Unified School District, and Summer Sun of Chico (Butte County), a senior at Chico High School in the Chico Unified School District, were selected for their exceptional leadership skills, noteworthy commitments to their schools and communities, and academic and extracurricular achievements as California’s delegates in this highly competitive program.
“These extraordinary students are among the best of the best in their schools and communities and have already accomplished so much in their young lives. I know they will continue to achieve great things and be excellent representatives for California,” Thurmond said. “I am impressed and encouraged by their strong leadership, passion, and commitment to making positive change and helping those who are underserved. I applaud their civic involvement and their advocacy work on issues such as equity, mental health awareness, the environment, social justice, and more. Their dedication assures me that our future is in good hands.”
Source: 2023 U.S. Senate Youth Program Students Announced – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today convened a panel of experts to speak about strategies to combat the opioid/fentanyl crisis, the fastest-growing cause of death in California. The webinar was open to all educators and parents, and featured subject matter experts from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, California Health and Human Services, local educational agencies (LEAs), the California Department of Education (CDE), and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Thurmond and participants discussed ways to work together to educate, prevent, and intervene to support and protect students.
In 2012, California suffered 82 deaths attributed to fentanyl overdoses, and last year that number jumped to more than 6,000. Fentanyl deaths accounted for more than 80 percent of all drug-related deaths among California’s young people in 2021. Often, teens think they are purchasing Adderall, OxyContin, Percocet, or Xanax pills, but drug dealers are making fake pills with the cheaper, stronger, and deadlier synthetic drug fentanyl. As a result, most victims ingest fentanyl accidentally, thinking they are using something less dangerous. It can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. It is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, and one pill can be fatal.
Source: SPI Hosts Webinar to Help Combat Opioid Crisis – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)
By John Fensterwald
With the power of incumbency and a funding advantage behind him, California Superintendent of Public Instruction handily won election to a second 4-year term on Tuesday.
Thurmond, 53, a former two-term Democratic Assemblyman from Richmond, was leading Lance Christensen by nearly 2 to 1, 66% to 34% with more than half of the vote reported. It was a larger margin than Gov. Gavin Newsom held over his Republican opponent, State Sen. Brian Dahle.
Source: Tony Thurmond cruises to reelection as California state superintendent | EdSource
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond congratulated the principals of California’s National Blue Ribbon School winners today at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C., calling out the long-term positive outcomes they have created for students during very challenging times. California boasts the largest number of public school National Blue Ribbon winners in the nation. Additionally, Thurmond met with Miguel Marco, principal of Wittmann (Helen) Elementary School in Cerritos, who was honored as one of the nine recipients of the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership.
“These California schools have done amazing things to address the education opportunity gap,” Thurmond said. “They are helping us learn, model, and develop refined strategies to scale success and innovation all across our great state. I am so glad the U.S. Department of Education recognized our 29 California Blue Ribbon schools today, and let me also say thank you to our awardees for their persistent hard work in creating a better environment for California students every day.”
Source: SPI Honors California Blue Ribbon Schools in D.C. – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond celebrated the 29 California Blue Ribbon schools being honored this week in Washington, D.C., at the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program awards ceremony. California has the largest number of public school Blue Ribbon winners in the nation. Thurmond met with school leaders on Monday to learn how they are closing opportunity gaps and providing environments where students can achieve high learning standards. He also appointed them to help co-design strategies for learning acceleration and to improve student achievement all across the state.
“Our state sent 29 schools this year to our nation’s capital to receive this prestigious honor—a testament to the students, teachers, staff members, administrators and their families,” said Thurmond. “While we continue to bounce back from the harms of the COVID-19 pandemic, this award illustrates the important work we are doing to go above and beyond in our mission to close the opportunity gap. It’s impressive that 29 schools received this honor, a reaffirmation of the persistence and resilience our educators displayed on behalf of our students.”
Source: SPI Celebrates California’s 29 Blue Ribbon Schools – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)
The California State Board of Education (SBE) today approved $58 million in contracts to build a network of support for community schools—campuses where every classroom is focused on high-quality teaching and learning, every student is connected to the services they need to thrive, and every family is empowered to partner in decision-making.
The $4 billion California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) is the nation’s largest investment in the success of high-needs students through a whole-child approach. Community schools partner with education, county, and nonprofit entities to provide integrated health, mental health, and social services alongside high-quality, supportive instruction with a strong focus on community, family, and student engagement.
Research shows that community schools can result in better school attendance, better grades and test scores, higher enrollment in college-prep classes, and higher graduation rates.
Source: $58M Approved for Community Schools Support System – Year 2022 (CA Dept of Education)