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State of California June 3, 2014 Election
Smart Voter

Supporting teachers, principals, parents: Less Bureaucracy

By Marshall Tuck

Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This information is provided by the candidate
Great schools have two essential ingredients: a strong principal and effective teachers. I'll bring my experience creating new Charter schools and turning around failing schools to Sacramento, cut central bureaucracy and ensure we focus on sharing best practices. We can do better supporting local schools and local educators.
By giving parents and local communities much more control over their schools and substantially decreasing the rules and regulations required through the California Education Code, we can decrease the size of the central bureaucracy both in Sacramento and in local school districts. Currently there are thousands of people employed at the state and local levels whose jobs are focused on making sure schools follow the rules laid out in the Ed Code. This is unnecessary bureaucracy that doesn't help improve children's ability to graduate college and career-ready. Let's refocus our state education jobs on making the classroom experience better for kids and improving learning. As State Superintendent, we will push more decisions locally, which will decrease the size of both the state and local education bureaucracies and free up resources to go directly into classrooms.

Role of the State in Local Schools

While key decisions related to education need to be made locally, and the bureaucracy needs to be decreased, the state clearly has a role to play in schools. Our state constitution guarantees children equal access to a public education, and our courts and legislation have made it clear that all children in California have a right to a quality education. Given that backdrop, the state plays a key role in terms of defining the standards and skills that all children need to learn, getting school districts the resources they need, helping to ensure adequate quantity and quality of available teachers, facilitating the sharing of best practices, and holding school districts accountable for ensuring that all students achieve against state standards.

The state needs to have a strong system of accountability in place to have an effective system of local control. This needs to include: strong data systems, effective testing systems, clearly defined expectations about levels of performance from school districts, and strong structures and capabilities in place to intervene quickly and effectively when school systems are not delivering the necessary results on behalf of children. These functions do not require a larger bureaucracy, but rather a bureaucracy that is efficient and focused on serving local school communities. As State Superintendent, I will work with the California Department of Education to make sure we have the appropriate data systems and accountability systems in place to support our local schools and intervene when necessary.

Develop and Support Educators

If we're going to be successful, we need to put significant effort into developing our administrators and teachers. At the school site level, this means carving out time during the school day for teachers to view one another's classrooms and for administrators to visit one another's schools. It means offering site-based professional development in which principals and teachers lead trainings of their own design. And it means identifying high-performing teachers with an interest in leadership so we can prepare them to be future assistant principals and principals. The state needs to create the conditions to help ensure that effective professional development for educators flourishes.

As State Superintendent, I'll focus the California Department of Education on sharing best practices and a key emphasis will be identifying the schools and school districts in our state that are most effectively training teachers and administrators and sharing the lessons of what they are doing rapidly to others. We will set up video conferences and other sharing opportunities whereby our highest performing teachers, administrators and superintendents can share with their peers their strategies around educator professional development.

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