A community forum was held this past Saturday, April 21, at San Bernardino Valley College featuring Marshall Tuck, a candidate for statewide Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The event, hosted by The Education Trust-West and regional partners provided community members with the opportunity to learn how Tuck will tackle the challenges facing California public schools, with a focus on education, justice and equity.
Tuck, a resident of Los Angeles, has spent 15 years in public eductation that include roles as president of the nonprofit Green Dot Public Schools, where he helped create 10 new public charter high schools in some of LA’s poorest neighborhoods; founding CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a groundbreaking collaboration between the Mayor’s office and LA Unified School District which operates 18 struggling elementary, middle, and high schools serving 15,000 students; and most recently, as Educator-in-Residence where he directed various school improvement efforts with the New Teacher Center (NTC), a nonprofit organization working with school districts to help develop and retain effective teachers and principals. NTC has supported 166,000 teachers since 2012.
According to Tuck a 10-year plan is necessary in order to improve California’s schools, with collaboration and cooperation from the governor, legislators, state superintendent, educators, parents, students, labor, business, and community leaders.
Tuck’s is a four-pronged strategy:
- Invest in teachers and principals
According to Tuck there is a shortage of qualified educators and an insufficient number of principals who are strong instructional leaders.
“We need to attract more people to the teaching profession and retain the best of them by increasing incentives and compensation, and substantially improving the supports we provide to teachers and those aspiring to be teachers.”
Those changes include increasing salaries, offering free college and credentialing to all people who commit to teach for at least five years, improving university teacher programs, providing mentors to new teachers and allowing principals more autonomy to lead their school rather than tending to compliance and bureaucracy.
2. Schools for the 21st century
Tuck maintains that learning for the 21st century includes a rigorous core curriculum, as well as enrichment opportunities that go well beyond that. The candidate concedes there have been improvements to math and English standards with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, but believes that 21st century learning extends beyond state standards.
“There is much we can do in our schools to better prepare our students to be successful and the state should support school districts in these efforts.”
– More project-based, hands-on, and collaborative learning experiences, so students know how to apply their learning to real-world problems, and work productively with others;
– Foreign language instruction at an early age, when research tells us students are best equipped to master it;
– Extended learning time, especially for those students that require it to catch up;
– Instructional practices that develop critical thinking, rather than rote memorization, so students can be successful in our knowledge-based economy;
– Courses that are forward thinking, such as engineering and computer science, so students are ready for the economy of tomorrow;
– Nurturing student creativity through access to art and music— not just for students in affluent communities, but for all students;
– Preparing students for good citizenship by incorporating civics courses early and consistently into the curriculum;
– Social-emotional learning and other important life skills that help students be productive and successful well beyond the classroom.
3. A public education system that works for all students
According to Tuck California has a tremendous asset by having the most diverse student population in the country. In order to fully meet that potential, there needs to be sufficient and differentiated resources, policies and practices for those with the greatest needs. In addition, schools much be held accountable for truly serving all students.
Tuck’s strategy includes conducting a comprehensive equity audit of all public schools, providing equitable school funding, improving support for students in Special Education, serving the large English learner population, supporting the most vulnerable students (African American males, homeless or foster students, those living in poverty, and others), addressing the needs of the whole child (by means of schools serving as a central point for a variety of social services that improve outcomes for students), and increasing parent engagement.
4. Fully funded classrooms
According to Tuck California was once among the top 10 states nationwide in per-pupil funding, and now it’s 41st.
“A public education is an important value of our state; it is enshrined in the state’s constitution. But without adequate funding and support, that commitment rings hollow. This will be a critical focus, as we need to adequately fund our schools to carry out many of the strategies necessary for our schools to be the best.”
Some of Tuck’s outlined strategies to fund classrooms include funding transparency, putting more money into classrooms rather than into compliance and bureaucracy due to the overly presciptive body of regulations of the CA Education Code, addressing long-term liabilities such as the unfunded pension liability, and seeking new revenue streams to fund schools through revisiting the tax structure and partnering with philanthropic organizations.
The next candidate forum for Superintendent of Public Instruction will take place on May 12 featuring a conversation with Assemblymember Tony Thurmond.
The primary election is June 5.