State superintendent urges investing in students as fall election nears


The state superintendent discussed K-12 education and the challenges students face in school districts with dwindling resources as part of an education forum held in San Francisco Thursday afternoon.

The head of the California Department of Education, Tom Torlakson, made remarks and spoke on a panel at the Public Policy Institute of

California 2012 Speaker Series on California's Future Thursday afternoon at the institute's Bechtel Conference Center in the Financial District.

At the event, "The Future of Education in California," moderated by PPIC president Mark Baldassare, Torlakson touched on several topics, including infusing "education optimism" into lawmakers and voters, following up on research to establish high-quality education plans and using

technology to modernize state classrooms.

Torlakson also spoke about the importance of preschool to close the achievement gap and increasing science, technology, engineering and math learning to provide students with more career opportunities down the line.

"We have all these aspirations but at the same time we have a huge crisis," he said about budget cuts affecting education.

He repeated throughout the discussion that California should be investing in its children.

The fall election came up when the superintendent shared his support for propositions 30 and 38.

"There's a big role the state has to play in financing," he said.

Prop. 30 is a sales and income tax increase backed by Gov. Jerry Brown intended to push money toward education. Prop. 38 would also raise taxes for schools.

San Ramon Valley residents will have the opportunity to vote on a school bond aimed at improving site and technology infrastructure throughout the district. The $260 million bond was unanimously approved by the Board of Education on Aug. 7.

Torlakson said this fall voters should be focused in investing in students, especially after some schools have seen budgets slashed up to 25 percent.

Alameda County Office of Education Superintendent Sheila Jordan praised Torlakson's efforts to push the state to join the SMARTER Balanced

Assessment Consortium last year.

Jordan touted the consortium's emphasis on problem solving instead of regurgitating facts.

Torlakson noted high achievement should not be based solely on math and language arts test scores, but by how well teachers integrate

technology, lower dropout rates and the use of art in the classroom, among other tools.

Jordan, along with panelist Michael Hanson, the Fresno Unified School District Superintendent, spoke how policy impacts individual districts, which serve a variety of students, many living in poverty and with limited English skills.

Jordan emphasized supporting administrators to keep classrooms -- and in turn, students -- strong.

"Teachers can be most effective with strong leadership," she said.

She also noted, "children have to come school ready to learn," which requires policies that support low-income families with proper health

care, nutrition, housing and other needs to keep students in prime learning condition.


Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 4, 2012 at 9:03 am

Here we go again...This is NOT news. Big surprise. The characters in this story all support Jerry Brown's tax proposals, (30,& 38), and all homeowners have the "opportunity" to tax themselves AGAIN in our SRVUSD with a newly proposed $260,000,000.00. For the next 25 years we have the opportunity to pay this new tax/bond to our our local school district. This because our reps and legislators up in Sacramento have focused on the unions, and all required regulations that the state and federal government impose on our state education and local school districts. They certainly aren't focused on supporting the teachers to become the best they can be in challenging our students.

Our US Government this past year has spent 69 BILLION DOLLARS with respect to this White House - thank you Arne Duncan. Where do you think all that money goes? To the children??

Let's face one of the bitter and unattractive truths in this education mess we have in this nation; particularly in our state: Illegal immigration. It's costly and it doesn't pay for itself.

Like this comment
Posted by Leslie
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 6, 2012 at 10:16 am

Kudos to ANN---so correct in her assessment. No more money. Money is not the problem----the teachers unions and the good old boys/girls clubs that are so entrenched in running the system. I personally had to give solace to a young girl in another person's class who was seated next to an illegal--YES---who proceeded to masterbate for her under his sarape. Disgusting. Gangs in many public schools is a dirty little secret.

Like this comment
Posted by Educator
a resident of Venture Independent Study School
on Sep 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Supt. Tom Torlakson should invest in better Teacher Union oversight committees. The protection of some of these instructors jobs is showing with the results such as gangs, antisocial dropouts, and failing young adults. Our society is failing our children and it is not a money problem. We need more accountability and less money for this system. Dumping money on a failed system is wasteful and shown ineffective. Our money ends up with over paid administrators and under motivated teachers. Mr. Torlakson, let's see some real leadership and management of our school system. It's your job. That is why we elected you. Stop the political talk and let us see real action.

Like this comment
Posted by Reggie
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Sep 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm

No more $ to any group. The politicians are out of touch. Brown is leading a dead horse-California. The unions... Especially CTA are crooks. CTA anyways endorses democrats even BEFORE other candidates are named. Does the CTA follow the court ruling that requires them to notify members they can drop out each fall?Of course not.

Go to the NATIONAL Right to Work site

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Sep 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Interesting how education is one of the few (only) enterprises where the ultimate results (success/lack of success)of the enterprise are blamed on the workers (teachers).

BTW, there is a lot of good evidence that the American educational system is not in decline: Web Link.

Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 10, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Dave - Why am I not surprised that the "literature" that you choose to quote your facts and philosophy from is non other than Mother Jones! Stellar example of objectivity... Might be that the writers are still high from the 70's when writing their current articles. Is Rolling Stone your other literary resource you gain your insight from, regarding facts and fiction? Too funny...

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Sep 11, 2012 at 11:38 pm

California has been the leader in educational reform for many years. Innovations such as mentoring for new teachers began here.

Contrast that with Texas, where educational innovation means giving equal time to (bogus) topics like creationism.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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