State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today received a career recognition award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, while calling for increased awareness and funding for mental health and suicide prevention.
Recent suicides by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade, combined with data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealing a significant increase in suicide rates have put a spotlight on this problem.
“Suicide is reaching epidemic proportions in our nation, our state, and our schools, making it even more important to focus on suicide prevention and expanding mental health services,” Torlakson said. “A suicide is a terrible, preventable loss that creates a tragedy for a family, a school, and an entire community.”
Torlakson praised schools for the work underway to prevent suicide, while asking all educators and members of the school community to be on the lookout for students showing signs of risk, and to assist them in seeking treatment. “This is no time for silence. If you notice someone suffering or in need, please speak out and help point them toward assistance,” he said.
Source: Torlakson Receives Suicide Prevention Award – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Research indicates the learning of a foreign language results in a myriad of lifelong benefits.
With that in mind, state education leaders have decided to launch an ambitious program to increase, in the coming decade, K-12 students’ proficiency in two or more languages.
State schools chief Tom Torlakson made the announcement last week at a Southern California elementary school.
In a press release, he said “Global California 2030” would greatly expand the teaching and learning of world languages and the number of students proficient in more than one language over the next 12 years.
The initiative aims to better prepare California students for the 21st-century economy, “broaden their perspective and understanding of the world, and strengthen the diversity of backgrounds and languages that make California’s culture and economy vibrant and dynamic,” Torlakson spokesman Bill Ainsworth wrote in the prepared statement.
Source: CDE launches program to expand learning of foreign languages
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced “Global California 2030,” a bold initiative to vastly expand the teaching and learning of world languages and the number of students proficient in more than one language over the next 12 years.
The initiative aims to better prepare California students for the 21st century economy, broaden their perspective and understanding of the world, and strengthen the diversity of backgrounds and languages that make California’s culture and economy vibrant and dynamic.
“The mission of Global California 2030 is to equip our students with the world language skills to succeed in the global economy and to fully engage with the diverse mixture of cultures and languages found in California and throughout the world,” Torlakson said. “We are setting high goals and dreaming big to help our students and our state.”
Source: Torlakson Launches Global CA 2030 Initiative – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that the public comment period is now open for the Health Education Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. It presents an approach to health education that focuses on students learning skills and practicing behaviors that will lead to a lifetime of good health.
“Students who are healthy do better in school, attend more days of classes and are ready to learn,” said Torlakson. “This new framework is another example of how California is leading the way for comprehensive health education for all students.”
The framework provides guidance on a wide range of health education topics, including nutrition, physical activity, community health, drug use, depression, obesity, relationships, and the impact of the environment on health. It also gives students the tools to reduce risky behaviors. The new health education framework is the first based on the groundbreaking Health Education Content Standards for California Public School, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (PDF), which addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social aspects of health.
Source: Public Comment Open for Health Education Framework – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today honored six outstanding classified school employees for their dedication to California’s public school students.
“In light of recent events, school climate and a nurturing environment for students are more important than ever. These outstanding employees play critical roles in creating that environment,” Torlakson said. “They are dedicated and strive for excellence. It’s the same whether they’re serving healthy meals, driving the school bus, keeping a campus safe, or checking transcripts to make sure students are on pace to graduate. I applaud their fantastic work in helping students realize their full potential.”
The annual program honors six outstanding classified school employees from the following categories: Child Nutrition; Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities; Office and Technical Support; Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance; Support Services and Security; and Transportation. This year’s recipients were chosen from more than 100 nominations statewide.
The 2018 Classified School Employees of the Year, who will be honored by Torlakson at a luncheon in Sacramento on May 24, are: (Information contained in the following biographical sketches was excerpted from their nomination forms.)
Source: 2018 Classified School Employees Announced – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
The State Board of Education today unanimously approved revisions to California’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan, a document that outlines the use and management of $2.4 billion in federal assistance to the state’s neediest students. California’s revised plan now moves on to the U.S. Department of Education for approval.
Every state that receives funding under ESSA is required to submit a plan to the federal government that meets federal statutory requirements.
California’s ESSA plan has been in development for more than two years with input from thousands of Californians. The revised plan affirms California’s commitment to the state’s broad overhaul of school funding and accountability ushered in by the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which provides an extra $10.1 billion annually to districts that serve low-income students, English learners, and foster youth. LCFF also gives local communities the authority to decide for themselves how best to allocate funding to address local needs.
“Because California is on the right track, it was important to work with the federal government to develop an ESSA plan that complements our state system but doesn’t drive it,” said State Board President Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford professor emeritus. “I am pleased that we have achieved that balance.”
Source: SBE Adopts Revised Every Student Succeeds Act Plan – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has announced his support for proposed legislation aimed at helping school districts maintain and improve safe public school campuses and increase engagement with parents and local communities.
Torlakson on Tuesday appeared at a Sacramento news conference with Californians for Justice, a student advocacy group that is also supporting the bill.
“Gathering school climate information each year is an important starting point in improving our children’s learning environments,” he said in a press release. “Safe and supportive schools are essential for all students as they navigate their way to college and 21st century careers.
Source: Torlakson supports proposed law to boost school climates, create safe environments
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced his support today for legislation aimed at helping school districts maintain and improve safe and inclusive learning environments for students and increase engagement with parents and their respective communities.
Torlakson appeared at a news conference on Tuesday with Californians for Justice, a student advocacy group that is also supporting the bill. “Gathering school climate information each year is an important starting point in improving our children’s learning environments. Safe and supportive schools are essential for all students as they navigate their way to college and 21st century careers,” Torlakson said. “In light of recent events at schools across our country, supporting districts in hearing their students’ voices and improving engagement with parents and communities is more vital than ever.”
AB 2820 was introduced by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). The bill sets up a “Community Engagement and School Climate for Continuous Improvement Block Grant.” This fund would provide school districts, at no cost, the option of using state-vetted school climate surveys, along with support and technical assistance on the administration of the surveys and utilization of results to improve school conditions and climate. If districts choose to use the surveys, they would be conducted annually with students, parents, teachers, and school staff.
Source: Torlakson Supports AB 2820 – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today the appointment of Kim Frinzell as the new Director of the Nutrition Services Division (NSD) at the California Department of Education (CDE). She began her new assignment on April 1.
Frinzell has over two decades of administrative and operations expertise in both federal and state nutrition programs and policy. She formerly served as the NSD’s Associate Director.
“Kim’s extensive experience, dedication, and comprehensive knowledge make her the perfect choice for this position,” said Torlakson. “She has played a key role in successfully collaborating with our schools, districts, and community centers to provide access to nutritious and healthy food for California students so they can be focused, alert, and ready to learn.”
Frinzell received her bachelor of science degree in agricultural science: dietetics and food administration from Fresno State University and later became a Registered Dietitian.
Source: Torlakson Names New Nutrition Services Director – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today applauded new guidelines to protect the rights of undocumented students and their families at California’s more than 10,000 public schools.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra developed the Promoting a Safe and Secure Learning Environment for All: Guidance and Model Policies to Assist California K–12 Schools in Responding to Immigration Issues guide External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), to help schools develop policies to safeguard the privacy and personal information of students.
“This guide gives students, parents, educators, and the public, valuable information about the laws and the limits of immigration enforcement,” said Torlakson. “It’s a big step forward in support of all of our efforts to make sure students and their parents, regardless of citizenship status, feel safe and welcome at public schools.”
Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation requiring the Attorney General to issue guidance to help California’s public K–12 schools and other local educational agencies develop policies to protect the rights of undocumented students.
Source: New Guidelines for Undocumented Students – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on Wednesday (March 28, 2018) will speak with California bilingual teachers and meet with Mexican education officials to discuss ways to work together to help “the students we share.”
These discussions, which will take place at the state’s largest bilingual education conference, continue Torlakson’s efforts to forge closer ties with Mexican educators and to promote multilingual education.
Torlakson will address the California Association for Bilingual Education, which organizes the gathering of about 2,000 educators. The conference this year is titled “Embracing Multilingualism: From Policy to Powerful Practices.”
“Embracing multilingualism is what we do, and do well in California,” Torlakson said. “We embrace different languages, we welcome different cultures. We build bridges, not walls with our fellow educators in Mexico. People in California, parents, educators, business leaders, and community leaders understand that diversity is our strength.”
Source: Torlakson Speaks at 2018 CABE Conference – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced the release of an “Open Letter to President Trump” opposing efforts to arm teachers, calling for the elimination of military-style assault weapons from our communities, and providing increased access to mental health services.
The open letter to President Donald Trump was signed by 61 California Teachers of the Year, including Michael Hayden (2014) and Brian McDaniel (2018).
California Teachers of the Year are selected from among California’s 295,000 teachers each year through a rigorous process of applications, interviews, and classroom visits. They are considered the best of the best.
“As teachers, all of us prefer to focus on education policy, our classrooms, and our students, but we can no longer remain silent while students and educators are being murdered and injured across our nation,” said Torlakson, who was a high school science teacher and coach. “We must talk about guns.”
Source: Teachers Join Torlakson to Oppose Guns in Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that the California Department of Education is taking a new step to help ensure student safety by auditing comprehensive school safety plans that are required of all schools by Education Code 32280-32288. The state compliance audit requirement will begin in the 2018-2019 school year.
Local school districts must approve safety plans for all schools in its district by March 1 of each year. School safety plans are mandatory and help ensure that schools are as prepared as possible for emergencies and also maintain safe and secure learning environments.
“The safety of our children and education communities is our greatest responsibility,” Torlakson said. “When developing school safety plans, it is essential to reflect on lessons learned last year and to implement new and improved actions this year.”
For example, school safety plans must present clear policies to address hate crimes, acts of violence, and their perpetrators. Comprehensive school safety plans must include a discrimination and harassment policy.
Source: Updates in School Safety Plans – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
School shootings are devastating for victims, survivors, and communities and increase fear for students, parents, and educators throughout the nation. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14, 2018, as well as all victims of school shootings.
Some students may wish to show solidarity with the Florida victims by planning and taking part in walkouts on March 14, 2018. I applaud these students’ empathy and civic engagement and support the right of all students to exercise their First Amendment rights.
I encourage administrators to work with students to create opportunities for all students to safely and respectfully express their views on this tragic event. This can be an extension of the Safe Havens discussions occurring in many districts, which involve making our schools safe for all students and parents while honoring student voices.
Administrators working with students, teachers, and parents can set up forums, assemblies, or small group activities. Teachers can guide students through age-appropriate discussions on key topics in classes such as American Government, history, civics, and language arts.
Source: A Guide for Possible Student Walkouts – Letters (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 74 schools won this year’s Civic Learning Awards, which celebrate public schools’ efforts to engage students in civic learning. Now in its sixth year, the awards program is co-sponsored by Torlakson and Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye.
“These schools provide great examples of how to creatively and effectively teach civics to our students,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “Civics is a critical component of our education system. It helps prepare our students for college, and also to be active participants in civic life, which is critical to maintaining a vibrant democracy.”
“It is inspiring to see so many schools developing the next generation of leaders through civic education,” said Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. “In the end, civics education promotes civic engagement.”
Source: Announcing 2018 Civic Learning Award Recipients – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that for the third year in a row, California students placed fifth in the nation in the percentage of high school graduates who earned a score of three or more on an end-of-course Advanced Placement ® (AP) exam, which earns them college credit.
In 2017, 30.3 percent of California graduates scored at least a 3 out of 5 on an AP exam during high school, compared to 28.5 percent in 2016. Nationally, the average in 2017 was 22.8 percent. In the last five years, the percentage of California students demonstrating success on AP exams has increased by more than 7.5 percentage points.
“Our students have once again made California a national leader in passing rigorous Advanced Placement exams, reflecting progress our state has made in our mission of preparing students for college and careers,” Torlakson said. “These results show how hard our educators, parents, and students are working on key elements of academic success—providing access to rigorous courses, challenging students to take these courses, and providing students the help they need to succeed.”
Success in AP courses is one measure of pupil achievement, which is one of eight state priorities contained in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), a policy that guides development of each district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).
Source: California Ranks 5th in Advanced Placement® Exam – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 32 schools were newly designated as Model Continuation High Schools for 2018. These schools are recognized for creating innovative programs that focus on academics and social and emotional learning and helping students who have faced many challenges, including chronic absenteeism and truancy, get back on the path to realizing their full academic potential.
“These model continuation high schools provide a space where students can feel a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence and receive strong educational support,” said Torlakson. ”Creating an academically challenging yet encouraging school climate can help turn an at-risk student on the verge of dropping out into a high school graduate prepared for a future career or college.”
Source: Announcing 2018 Model Continuation High Schools – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) is offering resources aimed at preventing those under 21 from using marijuana, something even more important now that Proposition 64 has taken effect.
Proposition 64, besides legalizing the recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and older, creates a tax on cannabis for wholesalers, retailers, and purchasers of cannabis and cannabis products. Eventually, some of these tax funds will be directed by the CDE to promote health, education, and drug prevention.
“This is an excellent time to remind parents, students, educators, administrators, and the public about the detrimental effects of marijuana, especially to the developing brains of children,” Torlakson said. “In this new environment we need to be even more vigilant in making certain school-aged children understand the importance of making healthy decisions. We are committed to making sure that new resources will effectively support schools, families, and communities in this charge.”
Source: Education and Marijuana – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
New research shows that California’s overhaul of public education finance and accountability is narrowing achievement gaps between groups of students and helping parents learn about school progress.
The Learning Policy Institute on Friday released “Money and Freedom: The Impact of California’s School Finance Reform External link opens in new window or tab.,” a study by researcher Sean Tanner and U.C. Berkeley professor Rucker Johnson.
The authors examined the impact of the landmark Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which gave school districts greater control over the use of state funds in exchange for greater accountability and parent engagement at the local level. LCFF, which was approved in 2013, also increased funding to districts that serve students needing extra support.The authors found that LCFF “led to significant increases in high school graduation rates and academic achievement, particularly among children from low-income families.” Students in the highest poverty districts showed greater academic gain, the authors reported. The study also found that LCFF funding was used to improve classroom learning by lowering student-to-teacher ratios and helping districts recruit and train new teachers.
“Money targeted to students’ needs can make a significant difference in outcomes and narrow achievement gaps,” the study concludes. “Money matters.”
Source: School Reforms Are Narrowing Achievement Gaps – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said Thursday that California public schools built before 2010 must test for lead in drinking water, an order that will affect all schools in Vacaville, Dixon and Fairfield.
The requirement comes several months after Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 746, which requires community water systems statewide, beginning Jan. 1, to complete lead testing in these older schools by July 1, 2019.
It also comes nearly four years after national headline-making news of lead contamination in drinking water in Flint, Mich., when the city switched its main water source from Detroit to the Flint River to save the city money. However, officials there did not properly treat the water coming from the Flint River, which leached lead from the city’s aging pipes into the drinking supply.
Source: California Department of Education says most schools must test their drinking water