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State of California June 3, 2014 Election
Smart Voter

Bringing major change: The Role of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

By Marshall Tuck

Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This information is provided by the candidate
California schools rank 45th in reading and math. It's clear that our schools need major changes. The Superintendent must be an advocate for students, parents and teachers.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction is the only elected statewide position focused every minute of every day solely on delivering a high-quality education to every student in California. I believe that it's a special role. It is nonpartisan because a child's future is more important than any political affiliation. And it should rise above the political fray, because children deserve an advocate who is not beholden to special interests.

Despite the unique importance of this position, many Californians I've spoken with haven't even heard of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, or if they have, don't know what its responsibilities were. To me this is evidence of a problem. It suggests that in recent years the position has been a mouthpiece for insiders, rather than the voice for students and parents across our state. It's time to reinvent the position, transforming it into an effective champion for schools and school districts across California. I'll reshape the role by focusing on engaging parents in Sacramento policymaking, supporting school districts rather than enforcing compliance, and sharing best practices for teaching and learning.

Engage Parents in Policy Making

The Department of Education with me as State Superintendent will keep parents and community members much better informed about the education policy decisions made in Sacramento by the State Legislature, the State Board of Education, the Governor and the State Superintendent. I'll launch an online hub to communicate with parents and concerned community members to help ensure their voices are heard before policymakers make decisions that impact their children. We'll cover the key state policy decisions on the docket, how they may impact children, where to go for more information, and how to contact the appropriate office to give feedback. In a highly networked state, in which parents and community members are often connected electronically with one another, we can provide this crucial information to millions at very little cost. My office will also proactively reach out to principals, parents groups, community organizations, and civic leaders to expand our reach.

Support Local Districts Rather than Enforce Compliance

In my administration, the State Department of Education will invert its very mission: we'll stop focusing on enforcing compliance with rigid regulations, and start serving and supporting local school districts. As mentioned earlier, we'll start by working aggressively with the Legislature to eliminate outdated and overly prescriptive regulations, empowering school districts, principals, teachers, and parents to make key decisions related to curriculum, budget, and personnel. And I'll shift the culture within the state bureaucracy from one in which Department of Education bureaucrats tell school districts what to do to one in which state staff are working to understand local needs and solve their problems on the ground.

Share Best Practices

The State Superintendent and state education staff are uniquely positioned to quickly identify and share the instructional practices that are accelerating student achievement in classrooms, schools and school districts throughout the state. As State Superintendent, I'll invest in new technologies that support the fastest possible dissemination of information that can benefit students statewide. We'll collect and make available online videos of quality instruction from the state's top teachers, effective strategies for engaging parents, strategies for implementing Common Core, samples of quality assessment, and other high-impact tools.

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