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)

Digital Divide Task Force Advocates for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and state leaders called representatives from major technology and internet service provider companies to appear at yesterday’s Closing the Digital Divide Task Force meeting to discuss the persistent technology gaps impacting the state’s most vulnerable students. Hundreds of thousands of students in schools throughout the state are still without the necessary devices and internet access needed to participate in distance learning along with their peers.

The full video archive of the meeting can be found on the CDE Facebook web page.

The task force, co-chaired by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), has asked that internet service providers offer free guest access to all California students. During Monday’s hearing, executives from AT&T, Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon were asked to provide more details on their efforts to bring connectivity into the homes of students from low-income and rural communities, including providing services for free or at low cost.

Source: Digital Divide Task Force Advocates for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Task Force Calls for Free Internet for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that his Closing the Digital Divide Task Force is asking the leaders of major internet service providers to provide free guest access to all of California’s students. Executives from these companies will be asked to speak to their commitment to the state’s most vulnerable students and families at the next task force meeting on Monday, May 4 at 4 p.m., which will be streamed live online.

Superintendent Thurmond created the task force, co-chaired by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino), to help close the technological gaps that put millions of students—including those living in remote, rural areas and students living in poverty—at a further academic disadvantage. Executives from all major service providers, including AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, have been invited to the meeting, which will be livestreamed on the CDE Facebook page.

Source: Task Force Calls for Free Internet for Students – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

In new program, low-income students eligible for extra food benefits – Times-Herald

By Richard Bammer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a new food assistance program for children throughout the state, including thousands in Solano County, who are living in households struggling with food insecurity, state schools chief Tony Thurmond has announced.

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program provides electronic food benefits to families equal to the value of meals children eligible for free or reduced-priced meals would have received at school, he noted in a press release issued earlier this week.

“The COVID-19 crisis has placed additional economic strain on some of our families that were already struggling to put food on the table,” Thurmond said in the prepared statement. “This program provides critical food assistance so that our students who are in economically challenged households can get the nutritious meals at home they need to thrive.”

Source: Coronavirus: CDE: In new program, low-income students eligible for extra food benefits – Times-Herald

SPI Commends Governor’s LCAP Executive Order – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond commended yesterday’s executive order by Governor Gavin Newsom that allows schools to focus on the impacts of campus closures as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and their mitigation plans for when students return this fall. The executive order does this by extending the deadline for school districts and charter schools to submit upcoming Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP) which are long-range planning documents tied to budget projections.

“School districts statewide have been working hard to put distance learning platforms into place and keep their students fed. The LCAP process deadlines should not be placing additional burdens on schools, which as a result of our current climate of social distancing, cannot meaningfully engage with their community stakeholders,” Thurmond said. “The Governor’s action frees up staff time and resources for districts to focus solely on the immediate learning needs and health of our students.”

Source: SPI Commends Governor’s LCAP Executive Order – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

2020 CA Green Ribbon Schools Award Honorees – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced that 25 schools and eight districts earned 2020 California Green Ribbon Schools awards. Among these state honorees are five “Green Achievers” nominated by the State Superintendent to receive U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition.

The U.S. Department of Education today confirmed all five Green Achievers as ED-GRS honorees, recognized for conserving resources while promoting health and environmental literacy. California’s honorees are among 39 schools, 11 districts, and five postsecondary institutions being honored nationally.

“Congratulations to this year’s honorees,” said Thurmond. “California Green Ribbon Schools expertly use local approaches to tackle global issues such as sustainability and environmental literacy. Students are not only learning and practicing environmental stewardship, but also sharing those sustainable practices with their families and in their communities.”

Source: 2020 CA Green Ribbon Schools Award Honorees – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SSPI Thurmond Announces 2019-20 Enrollment Data – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the release of 2019–2020 enrollment data for California’s kindergarten through grade twelve public schools. The data breaks down enrollment by ethnicity and grade, along with English Language Acquisition Status, and can be sorted by county, district, or school.

“In these unprecedented times, these data can provide a clear look at all California students,” Thurmond said. “It’s especially helpful in showing where students are struggling and additional resources are needed as we work to close the digital divide and provide assistance for schools having to utilize distance-learning models.”

Source: SSPI Thurmond Announces 2019-20 Enrollment Data – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Thurmond Announces Digital Divide Task Force – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today the creation of a new task force to close the digital divide for California students who lack access to resources such as internet connectivity and devices. The Closing the Digital Divide Task Force will be co-chaired by California State Senator Connie Leyva.

“This task force signals a new era, that California is now working with focus and urgency to close the digital divide in the most concrete way we have ever seen,” said Thurmond. “COVID-19 is a public health crisis in California and all around the world, but it’s also revealed other crises like the technology gap that has persisted for too long, leading to opportunity and achievement gaps for California’s students.”

“As the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, I strongly believe that ensuring equity for California students is critically important,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino). “One vital step to ensuring equity is by closing the digital divide, which has become that much more evident and urgent as distance learning is now the new reality for millions of school children during the current COVID-19 crisis. I look forward to co-chairing this important task force as we all continue to work together to meet the needs of students in California.”

Source: Thurmond Announces Digital Divide Task Force – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

CA Receives Approval for Crisis Response Funds – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

The U.S. Department of Education has granted preliminary approval to California’s request for flexibility in using federal funds to ease the immediate impacts of COVID-19 school closures.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond submitted the request for waivers, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, on Friday, April 10, 2020. The waivers were approved today.

The waivers loosen restrictions on how and when federal education funds can be spent. They remove a cap on technology purchases, ease limits on the amount of unspent federal funds that can be carried over from one federal fiscal year to the next, and relax rules about the use of money for teacher professional development.

Source: CA Receives Approval for Crisis Response Funds – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Amid COVID-19 outbreak, CA college, K–12 systems issue joint statement – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the state college and K–12 systems on Thursday issued a joint statement on college admissions and placement agreements, including distance learning, strategies for flexible grading and guides for “adjustments” of local graduation requirements.

In a press release, university, college and K-12 officials advised that the new accommodations marked a historic collaboration among California’s education leaders, including the California State Board of Education, California Department of Education, California State University, University of California, California community colleges, and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities.

“California’s K–12 and higher education communities are committed to helping high school and community college students overcome university admissions and placement challenges due to the suspension of in-person classroom teaching” caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, a CDE spokeswoman, Janet Weeks, said in the prepared statement.

Source: Coronavirus: Amid COVID-19 outbreak, CA college, K–12 systems issue joint statement on college admissions, placement agreements – The Reporter

State schools chief: $100M in COVID-19 funding available to districts – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

For California school district leaders worried about the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, help is on the way.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Thursday announced that $100 million will be sent to the more than 1,000 school districts.

The money, included in SB 117, one of two COVID-19 emergency bills passed by the Legislature on March 17, comes as California’s districts — classified as elementary, high school or unified — have suspended classes until early May and may face the possibility of closure until the fall.

Source: Coronavirus: State schools chief: $100M in COVID-19 funding available to districts – The Reporter

CDE gets prelim fed OK to waive testing, school accountability – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

California public schools chief Tony Thurmond on Friday said the state Department of Education received a preliminary federal OK to waive assessment and accountability requirements for the 2019–2020 school year.

His department and the State Board of Education formally requested approval for the waivers from the U.S. Department of Education in a letter sent Thursday. Formal approval is expected in the coming weeks, Thurmond noted in a press release.

Source: Coronavirus: CDE gets prelim fed OK to waive testing, school accountability – The Reporter

CA Meals for Kids App Update – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that the California Department of Education’s (CDE) “CA Meals for Kids” mobile app has been updated to help students and families find meals during COVID-19-related emergency school closures.

“Food insecurity is a daily struggle for some of our students and their families and that struggle is even more difficult and complicated during the current COVID-19 emergency we’re all facing,” said Thurmond. “I’d like to thank the Nutrition Services Division, the Technology Services Division, and all CDE staff who worked on updating the app—and the hard-working school nutrition staff around the state who have heroically continued working, and who are continuing to serve our students during this unprecedented emergency situation.”

Source: CA Meals for Kids App Update – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

SSPI Thurmond Hosts COVID-19 Webinar – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond today hosted a webinar for district, school and county office education leaders to walk through new state guidance documents released last night, covering the areas of distance learning, special education, meals/nutrition services, and child care support. The document issued by Governor Newsom yesterday was created under the March 13 Executive Order N-26-20 to address many of the immediate concerns that teachers, administrators, and parents are facing in the wake of COVID-19-related school closures.

“We are currently experiencing very difficult times, unchartered territory, experiences that we’ve never seen before. In spite of that fact, Californians are resilient and I want to acknowledge the resilience of our students, our teachers, our staff, our administrators, and the parents of our students,” said Thurmond during his opening remarks.

Source: SSPI Thurmond Hosts COVID-19 Webinar – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Announcing 2020 Civic Learning Award Recipients – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that 75 schools won this year’s Civic Learning Awards, which celebrate public schools’ efforts to engage students in civic learning. Now in its eighth year, the awards program is co-sponsored by Thurmond and Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye.

These schools engage students in civic learning through strong civics curriculum in school and service-learning projects in their communities. The awards are designed to both celebrate successful efforts to engage students in civic learning and to identify successful models that can be replicated in other schools.

Source: Announcing 2020 Civic Learning Award Recipients – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Mao Vang Named as New Assessment Director – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Dr. Mao Vang as the new Director for the Assessment Development and Administration Division (ADAD) at the California Department of Education (CDE). The division manages the development and administration for all statewide assessments.

“Mao brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion to the CDE’s leadership team,” said State Superintendent Tony Thurmond. “After more than 20 years of serving in various roles in education, she knows the important role of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and data in providing high-quality educational experiences to all our students.”

Dr. Vang spent the last two-and-a-half years as an Education Administrator at the CDE. Before that she served as Director of Assessment, Research and Evaluation in both San Ramon Valley Unified School District and Sacramento City Unified School District. She also spent time working for Educational Testing Services (ETS), where she directed and managed the development and administrative activities of the California High School Exit Exam program as the contractor working with the CDE.

Source: Mao Vang Named as New Assessment Director – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Rolling Hills special guest gets lessons in kindness – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

Rolling Hills students accepted The Great Kindness Challenge then shared it Thursday with their parents, school staff and Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“This is amazing,” Thurmond said during a short break an hour-long program of music, talk of kindness — and even a dance lesson for Thurmond.

“It was awesome and inspiring,” Thurmond added. So much so that Thurmond said he would love a return visit.

Source: Rolling Hills special guest gets lessons in kindness

New School Fiscal Services Division Director Named – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Elizabeth Dearstyne as the new Director of the School Fiscal Services Division at the California Department of Education (CDE). The division apportions funds to local educational agencies (LEAs) and guides LEAs from the state level on fiscal solvency, audit resolution, and financial reports.

“Elizabeth brings with her a wealth of knowledge about the state’s school funding systems after almost 20 years in education finance,” said Thurmond. “Her leadership and management skills will help the state provide crucial support to our schools so that they can provide a high-quality education to all students.”

Dearstyne has spent the last 14 years at the CDE in the School Fiscal Services Division at different levels, most recently as the Associate Director since April 2019. She has provided her leadership, guidance, and support in a variety of K–12 education finance areas, such as the allocation of state and federal funding to LEAs, issues related to LEA fiscal solvency, and the impact of emergency school closures on instructional time and funding. Dearstyne also led the team that implemented the school funding formula changes in 2013 for the Local Control Funding Formula.

Source: New School Fiscal Services Division Director Named – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

Thurmond Praises Governor Newsom’s 2020 Budget – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today praised Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020–21.

“Over the last year, my team and I have been collaborating with educational partners, including teachers and administrators all over the state, through my 13 workgroups, to establish and validate the areas of focus and priority initiatives for the California Department of Education,” said Thurmond. “Today, we were pleased to hear that many of the budget announcements were aligned with the work we have been doing. Governor Newsom and his team have produced a budget that is comprehensive, aligns with our goals to ensure equitable education for all students, and allows us to focus on helping our most vulnerable students in underserved communities.”

The budget includes the largest K–12 education per pupil expenditure in history. It proposes increasing K–12 education by $3 billion, with an investment of approximately $900 million for teacher preparation and retention.

Source: Thurmond Praises Governor Newsom’s 2020 Budget – Year 2020 (CA Dept of Education)