ASCD California

First on new California state superintendent’s long agenda: getting more men of color in the classroom

05/03/2019 11:49 AM | Cheryl Casagrande (Administrator)

First on new California state superintendent’s long agenda: getting more men of color in the classroom

Tony Thurmond reaches out for ideas on 13 education challenges

STATE EDUCATION POLICY

MAY 3, 2019
JOHN FENSTERWALD

CREDIT: ANDREW REED/EDSOURCE

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond during a staff interview at EdSource.

Four months into his first term, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond is creating 13 work groups that he expects will recommend strategies for addressing some of the state’s thorniest education challenges. The issues include the need for an extensive student data system, college affordability, special education, teacher development, student health and safety, the teacher shortage and the issue he ran on but has little direct power to effect — more funding for schools.

THURMOND'S WORK GROUPS

The 13 work groups that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond will appoint will deal with the following issues:

  • The achievement and opportunity gaps
  • A teacher shortage
  • Literacy achievement
  • Special education
  • K-12 funding
  • College affordability
  • Early education
  • Jobs of tomorrow (computer science, STEAM, CTE)
  • Dual language instruction
  • Professional development for educators
  • Data collection
  • Student health and safety
  • Pension obligations

In an interview this week at EdSource, Thurmond identified one priority he’s ready to push high on the to-do list: enticing more minority men to become teachers, particularly in the elementary grades, and fostering the conditions to keep them in the classroom. “We’ve landed on a strategy that we’re going to get in place hopefully by next year. It’s tangible. It’s concrete and we know it’s impactful,” Thurmond said. “The data shows when kids see a teacher who looks like them it makes a huge difference.”

Only 1 percent of teachers in California are male African-Americansand 5 percent are Latino, while 6 percent of the state’s students are African-American and 54 percent are Latino. A half-dozen of the 23 campuses in the California State University system, which trains the bulk of the state’s teachers, have had initiatives to recruit minority men. But they need more funding for programs like year-long teacher residencies, which mentor young teachers in districts where they will work, Thurmond said.

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