State schools chief announces new initiative: ‘Education to End Hate’ – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

In an hour-long virtual news conference, Monday, state schools chief Tony Thurmond announced new efforts to combat increased cases of hate, bigotry and racism in California schools and communities, the “Education to End Hate” initiative.

Thurmond said that the California Department of Education will lead a series of strategies— including educator training grants, partnerships with community leaders, and virtual classroom sessions — that uses the power of education to create a more just society.

“We do not need any more evidence that our country is facing two pandemics: coronavirus and hate. It feels like every day we are seeing heartbreaking examples: more anti-Semitic behavior, bullying of Asian American students because of our president’s rhetoric, Islamophobia, discrimination of our LGBTQ neighbors, and violence directed at people of color,” Thurmond said. “It’s time to double down on our efforts to combat all forms of hate, bias, and bigotry. By digging deeper into the complexities of our diverse and difficult histories — not denying or ignoring them — I believe education can provide the pathway to healing, understanding, and racial and social justice.”

Source: State schools chief announces new initiative: ‘Education to End Hate’ – The Reporter

Thurmond Issues Statement in Response to Trump – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s recent announcement that he would seek to withhold funding from California schools that choose to use a curriculum that reviews the impacts of slavery and how it has contributed to racism in our nation:

“President Trump’s latest announcement is a petty and disgraceful threat designed to distract and further divide our country at a time when we need true leadership that can unite us. California’s educators should feel empowered to lead courageous conversations with their students about the history of race and racism in our country—not worry if their school will lose funding.

“At the California Department of Education, we will continue to encourage school districts to talk about racism and unconscious bias in all forms. That includes building training programs to help our 10,000 schools address the impacts of implicit bias and race in our schools. We are also developing a first-in-the-nation statewide ethnic studies model curriculum that all of our school districts can use as a guide for classroom instruction that will shine a long-overdue light on the contributions of people of color.

Source: Thurmond Issues Statement in Response to Trump – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Initial ELPAC Test Moves Online – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced this week that the assessment used to determine a student’s English proficiency has successfully transitioned online, giving educators a powerful tool to reach and support English learners while school campuses are closed.

The Initial English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) has moved from a paper-pencil test to an online computer-based test and, as a result, produced real-time results. The online test became available to school districts and charter schools on August 20.

The Initial ELPAC serves as the state’s English language proficiency assessment to identify students as English learners. The test is administered to all students whose primary or home language is not English.

Source: Initial ELPAC Test Moves Online – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

New Tool to Strengthen Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released a new tool—Guidance on Best Practices for Distance Learning Instructional Planning—to support educators that are implementing distance learning instruction.

“Distance learning will be with us in some form moving forward, even as schools may be allowed to begin reopening in various capacities. We are committed to offering real-time, actionable support to our educators as we all lean into this new reality,” Thurmond said. “Through continued investments in educator training—and increased, proactive family engagement—I am confident that our schools will reach and engage more students as we move through this challenging period together.”

The new guidance document offers suggestions in four key areas: clear definitions of instructional models and language, an overview of required daily minutes for the 2020-21 school year and considerations for instruction both with live interaction and without live interaction, research-based principles for school districts to consider as they prepare to re-open, and ideas for how educators may structure learning.

Source: New Tool to Strengthen Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

New Special Education Director Named – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Heather Calomese as the new Director of the Special Education Division at the California Department of Education (CDE).

The Special Education Division provides information and resources to serve the unique needs of individuals with disabilities so that each person will meet or exceed high standards of achievement in academic and non-academic skills. As schools continue virtual learning in the weeks ahead, Calomese will support CDE’s efforts to provide assistance to schools and engage families and educators in ways that ensure the unique needs of students with disabilities are met.

Source: New Special Education Director Named – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has posted online its latest recommendations to the draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. The recommendations are scheduled to be reviewed by the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) at its quarterly meeting on August 13, the next in ongoing opportunities for public input before final adoption.

The CDE recommends that the model curriculum remain rooted in four foundational disciplines of ethnic studies—African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Latino Studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies. The CDE also recommends the draft include educator resources for engaging in expanded, critical conversations that can be customized to reflect a school community’s diversity and engage in broader social justice issues.

“Our schools have not always been a place where students can gain a full understanding of the contributions of people of color and the many ways throughout history—and present day—that our country has exploited, marginalized, and oppressed them. At a time when people across the nation are calling for a fairer, more just society, we must empower and equip students and educators to have these courageous conversations in the classroom,” said Thurmond. “I am proud to submit these recommendations for a draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum that will not only serve as a roadmap for educators but, hopefully, inspire action across the nation.”

Source: Draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SSPI Outlines Support for Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Wednesday outlined ways in which the California Department of Education (CDE) is helping schools implement and strengthen distance learning in the weeks leading up to the new school year, including guidance updates and virtual professional development, and ongoing efforts to connect school districts to resources that can close the digital divide.

“With school starting in a matter of weeks for many districts—and with as many as 97 percent of students expected to begin in distance learning—CDE is leaning into this moment to help make sure our educators are ready,” said Thurmond. “Whether we are helping schools close the digital divide, or providing guidance and webinars to understand new requirements, I am proud of the work our team is leading to help educators have the resources and responsiveness they need to make critical decisions in real time.”

Source: SSPI Outlines Support for Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Schools want to hire more counselors amid budget woes – The Reporter

By Carolyn Jones

With students facing ever-growing levels of depression and anxiety as the pandemic wears on, nearly everyone agrees that school districts need to expand their mental health services.

But budget uncertainties have stymied school districts’ efforts to hire more counselors and psychologists, leaving mental health advocates worried that thousands of students in California won’t receive the help they need.

“Basically, nearly every student in California has been traumatized,” said Melanee Cottrill, executive director of the California Association of School Psychologists. “We expect to see a huge demand when school reopens, and we are very concerned about meeting the needs of students.”

Source: Schools want to hire more counselors amid budget woes – The Reporter

Resources Identified to Support Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and leaders serving on the Closing the Digital Divide Task Force identified new resources and partnerships today to support California schools preparing for distance learning this fall. The task force, co-chaired by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), has been working since April to help equip all California students with computing devices and connectivity as schools prepare for the new academic year.

Among the resources identified Thursday include more than $5 billion available in the state budget to school districts to acquire devices, strengthen distance learning and address learning gaps. Task Force members also learned more about the progress of a multi-million dollar initiative spearheaded by Intel Corp. to support online learning.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic forces more school districts to resume virtual learning in the fall, this work grows increasingly urgent. But it is not insurmountable: Together, I believe we have the opportunity to rapidly build on the progress we already have made to date to close the digital divide,” Thurmond said. “Hundreds of thousands of students still lack the basic tools to connect to their learning. This is unacceptable, and now is the time to accelerate our efforts so that no student is left behind.”

Source: Resources Identified to Support Distance Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SPI Issues Statement on Governor’s School Guidance – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued the following statement today in response to the Governor’s updated guidance for schools:

“I want to commend the Governor for his leadership and for his focus on prioritizing public safety during what might be one of the most challenging experiences we will face in our lifetime. I appreciate the concern he expressed today as a father, his concern for the safety of California’s six million students, and his concern for the health and welfare of our schools’ educators and families.

“I also want to thank the Governor for the work he has led to ensure that our educators have necessary personal protective equipment—already on its way to our 10,000 schools—in the form of millions of units of face coverings, face shields, hand sanitizer, and thermometers.

Source: SPI Issues Statement on Governor’s School Guidance – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Health & Safety Priority for Reopening Schools – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Wednesday commended school districts across California for making student, teacher, and staff health and safety the foremost priority as they formalize plans for resuming learning this fall.

During his latest virtual news media briefing Wednesday, the State Superintendent encouraged schools to continue designing plans for in-person instruction this fall but urged educators to prepare for the possibility of resuming distance learning based on current health and safety conditions. COVID-19 infections continue to rise, and some of the state’s largest school districts have announced plans to resume learning virtually this fall.

“Everyone shares the desire to reopen schools and agrees that the best place for children to learn and thrive is in the classroom connected with caring teachers and staff. We also understand that schools are more than a place of learning: They provide critical necessities like meals, relationships with caring adults, and support for working parents,” said Thurmond. “But we can only open schools if it is safe to do so. As the largest educational agency in the country, our stance has been consistent during this pandemic: Science, data, and safety must guide any decision about reopening a school. The health and safety of our students and staff is too important to risk.”

Source: Health & Safety Priority for Reopening Schools – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SSPI Announces Tool for Assessing Student Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released a new implementation tool on diagnostic and formative assessments as a resource for schools. Being able to identify where students are in their learning within key content areas when they return to school would support educators moving forward as they teach students who missed months of in-class instruction.

The new document—titled “Implementation Tool: Guidance on Diagnostic and Formative Assessments”—offers many tools and strategies for taking a snapshot of students’ learning, but none of the assessments are required.

“Due to the school closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have concerns about learning gaps and share educators’ desires to have useful diagnostic assessments when students return,” Thurmond said. “This has especially impacted our most disadvantaged and vulnerable students, many of whom lack access to the technology needed for distance learning. Our set of resources offers multiple ways to measure a student’s learning without exacerbating the trauma they have experienced in recent months, while providing tools educators need to accelerate learning.”

Source: SSPI Announces Tool for Assessing Student Learning – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Task Force on Safe Schools Address School Reform – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today convened a hearing that took a comprehensive look at the role of police officers in schools and the impact that law enforcement presence has on students, learning, and campus safety. The hearing was a three-part panel discussion that examined: different models of school policing, research and data on the impact and consequences of police officers in schools, and a framework for potential policy recommendations for reimagining school safety.

An archived broadcast of today’s hearing can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab.

As many school districts re-examine the role and impacts of police on their campuses, Tuesday’s Task Force on Safe Schools hearing was the first step to address these issues on a statewide level and within the context of equity and racial justice.

Source: Task Force on Safe Schools Address School Reform – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SSPI Announces Ethnic Studies Webinar Series – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) will lead a series of virtual ethnic studies webinars and lessons in the coming weeks. As the CDE prepares to submit a revised Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum for public review, these webinars will help students, educators, and families familiarize themselves with the core areas of ethnic studies, including how different groups have struggled and worked together, as well as key concepts such as equality, justice, race, ethnicity, and indigeneity.

“Our students have spoken, and they want to have conversations and learn about our nation’s complex history in a way that is more representative of the world they’ve experienced and lived—a way that represents them and their families,” said Thurmond. “During this historic moment, we as a nation are re-examining the problematic fabrics of our society and history; ethnic studies helps emphasize cross-relational and intersectional study of different groups and helps tell of the struggles, histories, and contributions of America’s ethnic groups that all students need to learn.”

Source: SSPI Announces Ethnic Studies Webinar Series – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

2020 Model SARB Winners Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that 14 school attendance review boards (SARBs) have been designated as model programs by the State SARB for exemplary practices that have contributed to reducing chronic absenteeism rates and improving student attendance.

The announcement of the model SARBs follows the statewide school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The SARBs were recognized for successfulmulti-tiered attendance strategies used during the school year, which have been adapted and implemented during distance learning.

“Students who were chronically absent before schools closed due to the global health crisis are particularly at-risk for poor participation in distance learning,” said Thurmond. “School communities are navigating through unprecedented challenges; however, it is imperative that all students—especially those who have attendance issues—stay connected to ensure that they don’t fall behind. The attendance systems these model districts have put in place are examples that other districts throughout the state can review and utilize now and when schools reopen.”

Source: 2020 Model SARB Winners Announced – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SPI Issues Statement in Response to Ed Budget – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued the following statement today in response to the Legislature’s approval of the 2020-21 state budget for K-12 public education:

“I want to commend our leaders in the Assembly and Senate for working with the Governor to preserve funding for education and to avoid the permanent cuts and layoffs that would have been devastating for California’s public schools and students just when they need us the most. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our economy, and we are grateful that this budget recognizes that investments in public education will be a critical driver to our state’s rebound.

Source: SPI Issues Statement in Response to Ed Budget – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SSPI Thurmond Releases School Guidance Document – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education (CDE) has released comprehensive guidance that will support public school leaders across the state as they work with their local health officers to plan for the safe reopening of campuses and classrooms this fall.

Titled “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safer Opening of California’s Public Schools,” the guidance offers considerations and examples of solutions for schools as they work to implement public health recommendations in an educational environment. The CDE’s guidebook—which was developed using the most current information known at the time and may be updated as new data becomes relevant—covers health and safety practices; instructional programs and models, including for special education and English learners; professional relationships and learning; mental health and well-being for staff and students; community engagement and parental support; early learning and care; and school services such as transportation and meals.

Source: SSPI Thurmond Releases School Guidance Document – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

CA Schools Reopening: Masks For Students, Staff; Smaller Classes | CA Patch

By Nick Garber

State education officials on Monday unveiled a new set of guidelines for public schools that reopen in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, with recommendations including face coverings for all students and teachers, social distancing inside classrooms and the continued presence of distance learning.

The guidelines do not include any required changes, nor do they have any suggestions for when school districts should reopen. That will be up to each of the state’s nearly 1,000 districts to decide for themselves, state schools Superintendent Tony Thurmond said during a Monday morning news conference.

Source: CA Schools Reopening: Masks For Students, Staff; Smaller Classes | Across California, CA Patch

SSPI Works Toward Internet Access for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and state leaders serving on the Closing the Digital Divide Task Force continued their work today on behalf of California’s most vulnerable students and families who continue to experience barriers to internet access despite calls for providers to expand their services.

During the task force’s latest hearing, Thurmond and members heard testimony from advocates for students living in urban and rural areas, who described continued inequities that stand to put California’s most at-risk learners further behind. During the hearing, representatives from internet service providers were asked to respond to concerns raised, including limited or no service in specific zip codes, “free” internet offers that require costly long-term contracts, mandatory deposits, and other constraints to access.

Source: SSPI Works Toward Internet Access for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SPI Issues Statement in Response to May Revise – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s revised budget for the fiscal year 2020–21:

“The COVID-19 crisis has had a disastrous impact on the state’s economy, and the updated projections today offer sobering details of that reality. I want to thank Governor Newsom for working hard to prioritize and preserve public education as one of the vital, core services we must protect as we weather this economic downturn. Today’s updated budget proposal includes a variety of measures designed to avoid permanent cuts to education, which otherwise could have lasting impacts on a generation of students.

“While the measures outlined in today’s proposal are far from what our schools need, we also understand that our state is facing impossible choices under impossible circumstances. I will continue to advocate on behalf of our students and educators through each step of the Legislature’s budget adoption process in the coming weeks.

Source: SPI Issues Statement in Response to May Revise – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)