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State Education Secretary Hears from Alameda County

HAYWARD More funding. Leadership training. Reforming the way education is funded. A universal data system. Strengthening ties between K-12 and colleges and universities. These are just some of the issues that Alameda County educators want the state of California to actively pursue as part of the governor's "Year of Education."

The Governor has charged Secretary of Education Dave Long to lead the development of the education policy agenda for 2008.

The Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) hosted one of eight speaking engagements by Long, who is traveling across the state to hear from parents, students, educators, organizations, and business and community leaders about their utmost needs and desires for education reform and for eliminating the achievement gap.

"It's an excellent opportunity to become involved in the future of education for the children of California. I welcome input from all areas of our community to help us to achieve our goals while ensuring accountability," said Alameda County Schools Superintendent Sheila Jordan.

At ACOE's event, participants focused on seven main issues: Achievement and Outcomes; Teaching; Governance; School Finance; Data; Career/Technical Education; and Safe Schools and Student Well-being.

These reform issues have been identified as having the potential for making the greatest improvements, and they are areas closely aligned with those identified in "Getting Down to Facts," a series of studies commissioned by the Governor's Committee on Educational Excellence.

The event hosted by ACOE drew about 60 educators and safety officials from around the county. A common theme throughout the discussion was funding: the amount of money allocated to public education, and the conditions that are often attached to state funds. Several educators also emphasized that schools don't need more regulations added to the California Education Code, which is one of the largest in the country, because teachers and administrators know how to improve student achievement. The road block, they said, is the lack of sufficient funding.

As one participant commented: "The state is saying we want you to do $5 worth of work but we're giving you 50 cents to do it and we're telling you how to spend that 50 cents." Added another participant, "The trouble with educators is that we've been used to doing more with less but the breaking point has been reached."

Other issues that participants deemed urgent include, making schools safe for students and teachers; funding quality pre-K education for all students; improving special education; and reforming education so that it is student focused, not compliance-driven.

Anyone concerned about education reform can submit their recommendations regardless of whether they attend any of the events with the Secretary of Education.

 

Recommendations can be submitted in writing to the Office of the Secretary of Education, 1121 L St., Suite 600, Sacramento, Calif., 95814, or send an e-mail to edpolicy@ose.ca.gov.