With educators in the audience listening in, Governor Gavin Newsom shared his vision for California in his first State of the State address at the Capitol. From the need for investment in public education to affordable housing and clean drinking water, Newsom made it clear that issues affecting everyday Californians are at the forefront of his policy goals.
On education specifically, Newsom acknowledged that the historic strike by United Teachers Los Angeles may be over, but there is still a need to address the root causes of the strike:
“The teachers’ strike in LA is over — but the need to confront its underlying causes has only just begun. Understaffed schools, overcrowded classrooms, pension pressures, the achievement gap, and charter school growth — these stressors are showing up all over the state, right here in Sacramento, in Fresno, and Oakland.
Districts across the state are challenged to balance budgets even in this strong economy, and at a time when we’re spending more on schools than ever before.”
Newsom also recognized that California’s rank in per-pupil spending is unacceptable and reaffirmed his commitment to investing in public education:
“Seven years ago, we invested $47.3 billion in our schools. Next year, with your support, we’ll invest more than $80 billion — that includes $576 million for special education.
But it’s not enough. We’re still 41st in the nation in per pupil funding. Something needs to change. We need to have an honest conversation about how we fund our schools at a state and local level.
But at the same time, let’s remember that the measure of a school system’s excellence is more than the sum of its budgets.
We need clear and achievable standards of transparency, more information sharing, and accountability for all public schools … traditional and charter.”
Educators in the audience included Shelly Gupton, Roberta Kreitz, and Hasan McWhorter. Kreitz teaches special education at Wells Middle School in Dublin and shared her thoughts on Newsom’s promise to increase funding for special ed:
Shelly Gupton and Hasan McWhorter both teach in the Sacramento region – Gupton at Prairie Elementary in Elk Grove and McWhorter at the Met High School in Sacramento – and shared their reactions to the State of the State, as well.
McWhorter was optimistic after hearing Newsom’s address. “It sounded like he wants to collaborate with [educators] to make California a better place. And what better place to start than investing in education?”
Gupton added, “I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. His focus on education is very inspiring. The millions of dollars he’s advocating for investment in special education are direly needed.”
During his address, Governor Newsom also announced the new President for the State Board of Education, Linda Darling-Hammond:
“We need a new President for the State Board of Education, to lead the way and work alongside State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, and to lift up all of our students. And my pick for that position is nationally recognized education expert Linda Darling-Hammond.”
Darling-Hammond has a strong background in education including years in the classroom and extensive research on the recruitment and retention of teachers.