After eight years of service, Mike Kirst recently retired from his position as the president of the State Board of Education in California. He collaborated closely with Governor Jerry Brown to establish new educational policies. Kirst hopes funding for teacher and principal training will be sufficient to sustain the new academic standards for student achievement and that the public will continue to support the new more rigorous system.
In 2013, Kirst’s weighted student formula became Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) which focused on funding equity in schools. Consequently, more money went to school districts with higher numbers of English learners and low-income students. This law also shifted decision-making from the state capital down to local school districts.
The state board under Kirst’s direction developed a school accountability system of a dashboard to measure student achievement and school progress. The board also adopted new frameworks, for teaching more rigorous state standards in reading and math, plus for science and English learners. New standardized tests in these subjects have also been implemented and data from them are available on the dashboard.
Kirst believes it takes time for the results of all these changes to become visible and encouraged the public to be patient as educators work them. He was concerned that “the focus of public discussion has been on the mechanics of measuring progress instead of the underlying conditions needed for improvement.”
Mike acknowledges that these changes will require training and advocates for districts to prioritize professional development to assist teachers in evolving their practices to align more closely to the more rigorous frameworks. The state no longer determines or funds these trainings.
Since districts now have to prioritize types of training and who gets them, many are looking to the county offices of education. A new agency, The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE), has been established to assist districts with additional resources.
The CCEE has targeted over 300 low-performing districts and intends to help strategize with them to develop their improvement plans. This new agency will help guide districts in research based models that offer systemic change so that they can be effective at scaffolding student success.
As the new state system of district support gears up, schools will be receiving more guidance from this state agency to increase equity. Tom Armelino, the Executive Director of the CCEE, based in Sacramento, is pleased with Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed educational budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Armelino believes the governor’s proposed spending plan truly addresses pressing needs of the students in California schools. As the CCEE partners with county offices of education and school districts across the state, the goal is to provide equitable access through the Local Control Funding Formula.
The CCEE as a statewide agency intends to establish and strengthen partnerships with local school districts in order to strategically plan additional support for the ongoing needs of students. This agency does not work on compliance issues or deal with accountability functions so districts can be more forthcoming regarding needs.
The hope is that more resources will be more readily available and utilized more often as this new support system assists schools with innovative ways to meet the needs of their English Learners, Special Education students, and foster children.
Aremlino also said the new Governor’s budget “reduces pension liabilities for districts by billions of dollars and provides a 3.45% COLA to help support the ongoing needs of students.” With a proposed increase in the K-12 education budget allocation of $2.3 billion in fiscal year 2019-20, school districts like Porterville will be making decisions about distributions of their portion of those additional funds for the enhancement of student achievement.
Outgoing president of the State Board of Education in California, Mike Kirst, hopes districts will prioritize teacher and principal training as a way to maintain and enhance the gains made with the new standards and achievement tests that were put in place during Governor Brown’s term.
Aremlino, Executive Director of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) agency, hopes districts will avail themselves of his agencies’ resource to assist with these types of trainings.
Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at email@example.com.