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Thurmond Inaugurated as State Schools Chief

First-ever Afro Latino SPI calls on all Californians to support public schools

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond asked all Californians to stand with him to fight for the high-quality public schools all students deserve, during his inaugural address today at McClatchy High School in Sacramento. The former social worker and Assemblymember was sworn in this morning as the 28th state schools chief–the first-ever Afro Latino to hold the office.

Continuing his focus on opportunity and equity from the campaign, Thurmond reaffirmed his commitment to provide all students with a first-class education, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or immigration status.

“We have big work ahead of us,” Thurmond said. “We’ve got to close our teacher shortage. We can’t close our achievement gap without a good teacher at the head of every class.”

Thurmond acknowledged that he will be held accountable for the success of California public schools, a commitment he is ready to uphold and one that he hopes all will embrace.

“I’m asking everyone to join me. Help with your local schools,” Thurmond said. “If you can, find a way to be a mentor, a volunteer or contribute to a fundraiser.”

More resources for public schools are a large part of Thurmond’s plan for improving public schools, which includes lifting California from the bottom end of per-student spending to the top.

“Providing more money to our schools helps our students, our communities, and our economy,” he said. “But most of all it helps create a bright future for our state.”

His plan also includes the following:

  • Keeping schools safe by reducing gun violence.
  • Providing school-based mental and physical health services to ensure that students get the care they need and come to school healthy, alert and ready to learn.
  • Expanding access to early education and after-school programs to help reduce the achievement gap.
  • Making college and career pathways accessible to all students.
  • Alleviating the teacher shortage so that all schools have highly trained and certified teachers.
  • Improving the type of student data available to allow better research and analysis of student learning.
  • Renewing our commitment to helping English learners acquire the language skills they need rapidly, while retaining their native language.

The swearing-in ceremony was probably the hottest ticket today outside of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s inauguration, with state and local officials and CTA Board members joining event speakers including
legendary labor activist Dolores Huerta and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Berkeley.

“This is the dawn of a new day for our children,” Lee said.

Thurmond acknowledged the many educators in the room, proclaiming that teachers stood up for him during the grueling campaign. He specifically thanked CTA Board members Terri Jackson and Robert Ellis by name.

In closing, Thurmond said he was eager to get to work with Gov. Newsom to provide opportunity for all.

“Together, let us create a better day for all of our students,” he said.

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