This is an archive of a past election.
See for current information.
California State Government June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

A Plan for K-12 Education Reform in California

By Grant McMicken

Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This information is provided by the candidate
This document sets forth a concrete plan for K-12 education reform in California
A Plan for K-12 Education Reform in California

Any plan to revitalize the California education system must have a unique central theme. The plan must include a vision to bring the fragmented human and fiscal resources of education into a unified coalition, support teachers and schools, and most importantly improve the education of our children.

I believe the unique central theme is that the California educational system needs to be a bi-directional relationship between Sacramento, represented by the California Department of Education (CDE), and each individual school.

CDE should take on two roles: first, a regulatory agency, maintaining data from schools as required by state and federal reporting legislation; and second, and most important, a support agency for children, teachers, and schools.

Every school has its own special student population, with needs for administrators, teachers and support staff that best fit its community. Every school should have the autonomy to structure its day, its curricular offerings, and control over its staffing as the needs of the school dictate. Each school should have its board of education (possibly referred to as a Site Council) comprised of the parents of its students, the school principal, and certificated and non-certificated staff. Thus, each school becomes a charter school.

CDE should be a command center at which our schools can be mapped, color coded by API deciles to identify both individual schools and clusters of schools which can be used as models of achievement or identified as in need help on account of low performance.

As a support provider, CDE should develop an electronically accessible database of "best lessons" indexed by grade level, subject, and standard. The Best Lessons would be solicited from teachers throughout California and the nation. The lessons could be tested by our colleges in teacher preparation programs and through staff development at individual school sites. In an information age, we should be sharing information.

Another support function of CDE should be to maintain teams of teachers, trained in the best practices of teaching reading, writing, and number sense. These teams should be dispatched to underperforming schools, without regard to FTE staffing limits, to support the children and teachers of these schools. In conjunction with supporting our children, CDE should be the administrator of work-tuition grants. These grants would be awarded to students, in need of financial aide to attend college, to work in underperforming schools, to give back to the community, and perpetuate their success in future high school graduates.

The individual school, its administrators, teachers and students should be held accountable for the overall school performance. The California Standards Tests (CST) should be a major tool in the accountability process. These tests should be the culminating activity of the school year and should be the deciding factor in promoting a student to the next grade level, next course, or to determine areas of re-teaching/remediation needed by a student in particular area(s) of study. For immediate student and parent feedback, CST should be graded at the school site then sent to CDE for verification and data gathering and reporting.

For the past 35-40 years, the need to send every student to college has dominated the curriculum of our high schools. Finally, this mentality is changing. An ever increasing drop-out rate has brought the need for CTE and vocational skills development to become the means to interest young adults in course offerings which will lead to postsecondary employment opportunities and the need for future academic training. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction must lead the way to unifying the enormous yet fragmented human and fiscal resources involved in special education, CTE, and school-to-work programs. Our legislators must make changes to the education code to give students options in their course of study in high school.

Another change in the education code must be the requirement for every student to pass a rigorous Algebra course as a requirement for high school graduation (some schools even require Geometry for graduation). The fact of the matter is that not every student aged 13 + 17 is mature enough to learn the processes of a rigorous Algebra course. As a mathematics teacher, my heart goes out to those young people who do not have a grasp on fundamental arithmetic, yet I must teach them to factor trinomials and simplify basic rational expressions. Many do not succeed! I would much rather teach a course in Applied Arithmetic which includes some basic algebraic and trigonometric processes or a course applying mathematics to business and economics.

As a final comment, it may be noticed that school districts have not been mentioned anywhere in this discussion of educational reform. The reason, not to discuss school districts, is that a bi-directional model of education eliminates the need for an administrative level in the flow of support and regulatory data collection.

It is time to free-up our teachers and schools to put creativity and relevance back into education. It is time to change the structure of the educational system, from that which would bankrupt any business, to one that will flourish producing young adults ready to successfully meet the challenges of postsecondary life. It is time for our elected and about to be elected officials to put forth concrete ideas, to transform a system created for a 1950's world, into a system to prepare young adults for the 21st century.

Grant McMicken High School Mathematics Teacher Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Next Page: Position Paper 3

Candidate Page || Feedback to Candidate || This Contest
June 2006 Home (Ballot Lookup) || About Smart Voter

ca/state Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 29, 2006 20:07
Smart Voter <>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund.
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.