SPI Hosts Safe and Successful Schools Webinar – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond brought experts in the fields of public health and education together on Wednesday for a wide-ranging discussion of COVID-19 data and mitigation efforts that have resulted in the safe reopening of thousands of schools across California.

The Safe and Successful Schools webinar was developed in partnership by the California Department of Education (CDE), the California Department of Public Health, the State Board of Education and the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.

Dr. Naomi Bardach of the Safe Schools for All team and State Board President Linda Darling-Hammond shared information on California’s robust and multi-layered approach to COVID-19 prevention, which has resulted in no school reopening delays thus far in the fall semester. Bardach and Darling-Hammond shared data that demonstrates how state-supported COVID-19 testing programs, on-site vaccine clinics, universal masking and detailed quarantine guidance have helped keep California students in class and learning despite the troublesome rise of the Delta variant. A recording of the webinar is available on the CDE Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab..

Source: SPI Hosts Safe and Successful Schools Webinar – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

New Multilingual Support Director Appointed – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Alesha Moreno-Ramirez as the new Director of the Multilingual Support Division at the California Department of Education (CDE).

The Multilingual Support Division provides information and resources to serve the unique needs of multilingual students so that each person will meet or exceed high standards of achievement in academic and non-academic skills.

“Alesha is an accomplished leader with a depth of knowledge regarding high-level multilingual best practices and policies,” said Thurmond. “She is a strong advocate and champion for all students and believes the linguistic and cultural assets English learners bring to California schools enrich the lives of all of the state’s 6.1 million TK–12 public school students and their communities. She brings to the position extensive experience with equity, multilingual learner rights, and social justice issues along with an unwavering focus and commitment to do what is best to ensure the needs of multilingual, English learner, dual language, migrant, and immigrant students and their families are being met. I am pleased to add an educator with her passion and dedication to the CDE leadership team.”

Source: New Multilingual Support Director Appointed – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

SPI Applauds 2021-22 Education Budget – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond praised Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing of the 2021–22 state budget bills and trailer bills, which include key investments in areas the State Superintendent championed before the pandemic disrupted public education. These investments provide the resources schools desperately need to recover and to build back better.

“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,” said Thurmond. “Coming off the most difficult year for education in our lifetime, historic funding levels to the state and education will enable us to recover, accelerate learning, and build back better—with specific attention to student mental health and closing opportunity gaps that disproportionately affected students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, and students in low-income households.

“I echo our Governor, who announced that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in California’s future and expand opportunities for every child across the state, with $123.9 billion to reduce barriers and increase opportunities from transitional kindergarten through community college. In this year’s budget, our Proposition 98 funding for TK to 12—money going to our schools and classrooms—went from $69.3 billion in 2020–21 to $80.4 billion this year, almost a 30 percent increase over last year.

Source: SPI Applauds 2021-22 Education Budget – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Bill Dodd, education leaders talk mask mandates, pandemic silver linings – Times-Herald

By Richard Freedman

To paraphrase former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, “They’ll be back.”

And when they do, expect students throughout the state to mask up, along with clerical staff, teachers and principals.

“I wish we didn’t wear masks. There will be a time we expect and hope we won’t,” said Tony Thurmond, California’s Superintendent of Schools.

Thurmond joined Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson, and Sunne Wright McPeak, president and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, in State Sen. Bill Dodd’s virtual town hall forum streamed live on KSVY radio in Sonoma and on multiple media platforms Tuesday night.

Source: Bill Dodd, education leaders talk mask mandates, pandemic silver linings – Times-Herald

In-person school returning, with technological support – Daily Republic

By Matt Miller

Students will soon return to school, be required to wear masks – at least at the outset – while options of independent learning will continue and the state works to address the digital needs for all Californians.

Those were the topics discussed Tuesday night at a virtual town hall put on by Sen. Bill Dodd and broadcast live on Sonoma TV and KSVY radio in Sonoma, and on local social media channels.

Joining Dodd was California Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond, Sunne Wright McPeak, president and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, and Lisette Estrella-Henderson, Solano County superintendent of schools.

Source: In-person school returning, with technological support

Thurmond Names California Education Ambassadors – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dolores Huerta, and Dr. Karen Korematsu are living icons who have made significant contributions to culture and society with work and messages that transcend divisions of race, gender, and other social and political constructs and inspire us with universal lessons that can take us in new directions with their talent and impact.

Today, these significant figures received special recognition as Ambassadors to California Education by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond for demonstrating outstanding dedication and contributions to support the education of California’s students. Abdul-Jabbar was honored for leading efforts to boost after-school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning opportunities for California’s students. Huerta and Korematsu received the recognition for being key voices in the development of California’s new Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which provides guidance to assist local high schools in developing ethnic studies courses, which are classes that research shows can improve graduation and college-going rates among all students—and especially teens of color.

Source: Thurmond Names California Education Ambassadors – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

2021 CA Exemplary Arts Education Awards – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that 33 California schools were selected for the California Exemplary Arts Education Award.

These schools engage students in quality arts education that meet California Arts Standards for Public Schools (Arts Standards) and demonstrate progress on indicators on the California School Dashboard. The awards are designed to celebrate successful efforts to engage students in arts through exposure to a variety of disciplines.

“This year has been especially challenging for our students and schools, but I commend these schools for recognizing that this is a time when the arts are more critical than ever,” State Superintendent Thurmond said. “These schools excelled in providing quality arts education, despite all the obstacles presented by distance learning. It is with great pleasure we honor these schools for their steadfast dedication to arts education that plays a powerful role in supporting wellness, bridging social divides, and expanding creativity and critical thinking in our students.”

Source: 2021 CA Exemplary Arts Education Awards – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Nearly 30 Bay Area Schools Added To List Of CA Distinguished Schools – CBS San Francisco

State schools Superintendent Tony Thurmond named an additional 121 schools – including 28 in the greater Bay Area – as 2021 California Distinguished Schools.

The award honors schools who have made improvements in test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. The state originally honored 102 schools March 18, but after further review of the data added the additional schools.

Source: Nearly 30 Bay Area Schools Added To List Of California Distinguished Schools – CBS San Francisco

Rodriguez High School Named 2021 California Distinguished School | Suisun City, CA Patch

By Maggie Fusek

A school in the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District was among an additional 121 schools named 2021 California Distinguished Schools this week by California Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond.

The state originally honored 102 schools March 18, but after further review of the data recognized the additional schools, including Angelo Rodriguez High School in Fairfield and 27 other greater Bay Area schools.

The award recognizes schools that have made improvements in closing the achievement gap and student participation, which are measured by test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate.

Source: Rodriguez High School Named 2021 California Distinguished School | Suisun City, CA Patch

Additional 2021 California Distinguished Schools – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today named an additional 121 schools as 2021 California Distinguished Schools. In an announcement on March 18, the California Department of Education (CDE) awarded the honor to 102 schools and today that list has been broadened to include 120 additional California senior high schools and one more middle school.

The California Department of Education (CDE) identifies and awards eligible schools based on performance and progress on state indicators specified on the California School Dashboard, the state’s accountability and continuous improvement system. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. After a review of the data, CDE identified these additional schools for this year’s honor.

“These additional high schools join the ranks of all 2021 California Distinguished Schools who are being recognized for this distinction because of their exceptional record to provide for all students and their commitment to data-driven efforts that prepare students for college and career,” Thurmond said. “Our thanks go to the entire communities surrounding these schools, including the teachers, administrators, and classified employees as well as the students and their families who, through teamwork, all accomplished this impressive achievement together.”

Source: Additional 2021 California Distinguished Schools – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

2021 Civic Learning Awards Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that 32 schools won this year’s Civic Learning Awards, which celebrate public schools’ efforts to engage students in civic learning. This year, the awards emphasize school-based efforts that went uninterrupted despite the pandemic. Now in its ninth year, the awards program is co-sponsored by State Superintendent Thurmond and Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and is part of the Chief Justice’s Civic Learning Initiative External link opens in new window or tab.

“I’m so proud of these schools for keeping students engaged in civic learning during a pandemic, especially as our country grapples with serious social and civic conversations and actions that can reimagine governance at all levels,” said State Superintendent Thurmond. “I’m a passionate supporter of civics education, which not only engages students, but often inspires them to make a difference for their communities. During my time both as a civics teacher and in the State Legislature, I’ve always encouraged students to get involved. My office continues to be open for students to share their ideas; I’ve heard from so many students during this pandemic, and their voices are crucial now more than ever.”

Source: 2021 Civic Learning Awards Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Support for Bill to Diversify Teaching Workforce – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) were joined by education leaders today to urge support for new legislation designed to help support male educators of color and diversify the teaching workforce.

Assembly Bill (AB) 520, sponsored by State Superintendent Thurmond and authored by Assemblymember Gipson, received unanimous approval from the California State Assembly Committee on Education last week. The bill would establish the California Diversifying Teacher Grant Program, awarding $15 million in grants for school districts to provide one-time competitive grants that develop and implement new (or expand existing) programs that address a local need to develop the teacher workforce while emphasizing the retention of male teachers of color.

“We regularly talk about equity, but we must make equity the forefront and center in our schools. This bill is about adding tools to the toolbox and creating the opportunities to motivate more men of color to be in the classroom. The research is undeniable,” Gipson said. “The National Bureau of Economic Research reported that having a Black teacher for one year in elementary school raised long-term education attainment for Black male students, especially for those from low-income households. AB 520 would provide schools with the tools to help them build a more diverse teacher population and students with opportunities to succeed.”

Source: Support for Bill to Diversify Teaching Workforce – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Local educators weigh in on state’s historic ethnic studies guide for high schools – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Local educators on Friday weighed in the state Board of Education’s approval of guidelines to help local high schools develop or enhance ethnic studies courses, classes that researchers say can improve graduation and college-going rates among all students — and especially teens of color.

From the Vacaville Unified board president to area superintendents to ethnic studies teachers, they say there is a need to offer students, increasingly racially diverse in numbers, instruction about other cultures, knowledge that can be life-changing for all.

In their responses to Reporter questions, the local educators more or less reflected what state schools chief Tony Thurmond said Thursday after the state board voted unanimously on the model curriculum guidance. This ended years of often divisive debate over ethnic studies in California’s K-12 schools and how to show the histories, struggles, and contributions of Asians, Blacks, Latinos, and American Indians — and the racism and marginalization they have experienced in the United States — to millions of students.

Source: Local educators weigh in on state’s historic ethnic studies guide for high schools – The Reporter

$240,000 in Grants to Address Education Inequities – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) has selected 12 recipients of mini grants, totaling more than $240,000, that will fund local efforts across the state to address equity and opportunity gaps through supporting educator and student needs in distance learning, in-person instruction, and hybrid models.

Since the applications were announced in December 2020 as part of CDE’s ongoing efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s continued impact on students, more than 400 schools and districts across California applied for the grants, which are funded by contributions from philanthropic partners. The funds must be used to advance equity and close opportunity and access gaps. The grantees are given discretion to decide how they will address the topic of equity. The list of grantees is at the end of this press release.

Source: $240,000 in Grants to Address Education Inequities – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Rapid COVID Testing to Facilitate School Reopening – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted a statewide webinar today with health experts and educators that addressed the use of rapid COVID-19 testing as a tool to safely resume in-person learning on school campuses.

“I strongly believe that while we wait for a full vaccine roll-out, we also need to be moving toward a strategy for the deployment of rapid COVID testing that is cost-effective for schools,” Thurmond said. “This is one tool in our tool box—but an important one. Rapid COVID testing is a game-changer. With mounting data that students are suffering from mental health issues and learning disruptions, rapid testing is a real help for districts looking for ways to get students safely back into classrooms.”

During the presentation, Thurmond shared how the use of BinaxNOW COVID-19 Cards, which provide test results in 15 minutes at a cost of $5 per test, will be used at the California Department of Education’s (CDE) three State Special Schools to safely return students to in-person instruction.

Source: Rapid COVID Testing to Facilitate School Reopening – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

Response to Legislative Deal on School Reopening – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today issued the following statement in response to a legislative deal announced by Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers that is designed to help more schools open classrooms for in-person learning:

“There is no question that students learn best when they are together with their peers and educators in a physically and emotionally safe school environment. Our schools need every resource possible to implement the layered safety measures that will facilitate a safe return to in-person learning for students, school staff, teachers, and their families.

“I want to thank Governor Gavin Newsom and our leaders in the Legislature for crafting a proposal that will provide our school districts and educators additional resources to help resume safe in-person learning and invest in expanded learning and academic interventions to help students accelerate learning and recover from the impacts of this pandemic.

Source: Response to Legislative Deal on School Reopening – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State ed board wants flexibility on fed school assessments amid pandemic – The Reporter

After comments by state schools chief Tony Thurmond earlier this week, the State Board of Education voted Wednesday to seek relief from certain federal testing, accountability, and reporting requirements and directed staff to explore other ways to size up student learning progress amid the ongoing pandemic.

The board’s decision is in response to federal guidance released Monday that allows states to ask for latitude to account for the impact of the pandemic on schools. Unlike last year, the U.S. Department of Education will not invite states to apply for blanket waivers that would allow states to opt out of annual testing altogether, citing the role testing data plays in supporting students.

Source: State ed board wants flexibility on fed school assessments amid pandemic – The Reporter

CDE chief Thurmond to feds: Standardized testing results ‘too narrow’ to help educators amid pandemic – Times-Herald

State schools chief Tony Thurmond on Tuesday quite plainly expressed his disapproval of the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on administering statewide standardized tests in the COVID-19 era.

In a statement issued by the California Department of Education, he called the tests “imperfect measures at best and often provide snapshots of student performance that are far too narrow to help educators in any given year, let alone during a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.”

“Most years, the results of statewide testing simply reflect the deep and systemic inequities that have placed generations of students at a historic, ongoing academic disadvantage,” he added.

Source: CDE chief Thurmond to feds: Standardized testing results ‘too narrow’ to help educators amid pandemic – Times-Herald

Grading Guidance for Progress in Distance Learning – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the release of guidelines that address grading student progress and the ongoing issue of equity in distance and hybrid learning environments. Resources that support local control are included in the new guidance, allowing schools to make the best decisions for their respective student populations.

“As the majority of California’s public schools continue to respond to distance learning needs, we should reflect on how student progress is measured and consider how to shift to more equitable grading systems and policies, whether the instructional setting is in-person, virtual, or hybrid,” Thurmond said. “This is an opportunity to make a significant change.”

The new guidance includes research-based approaches to grading that may be especially helpful if students are not in class and access to technology and learning supports may be unequal. These include replacing grading quantities, such as the extent to which students have completed assignments, with grading qualities in student work that reflect students’ current achievement level at the time, and using flexibility in timing the collection of evidence for grading decisions so students are graded on the learning they do, not when they do it.

Source: Grading Guidance for Progress in Distance Learning – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

2021 U.S. Senate Youth Program Students Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced two outstanding high school students to represent California in the 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Jamaal Willis of Barstow (San Bernardino County), a senior at Barstow High School in the Barstow Unified School District, and Sathvik Nori of Atherton (San Mateo County), a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School in the Sequoia Union High School District, were selected for their exceptional leadership skills, remarkable commitment to their schools and communities, and scholastic achievement as California’s delegates in this highly competitive program.

“I could not be prouder to recognize these students for this honor. These young scholars will represent our state on a national stage, and I’m confident they will one day rise to leadership positions that help advance the dreams, aspirations, and ambitions of Californians for years to come,” Thurmond said. “I am impressed and inspired by their strong leadership and passion. From advocating for racial equity and civil rights to working on mental health awareness and increasing civic engagement among their peers, these students desire to empower the disadvantaged and improve the lives of others, which fills me with great optimism for our future.”

Source: 2021 U.S. Senate Youth Program Students Announced – Year 2021 (CA Dept of Education)