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March 2019 CCSESA Newsletter

Leadership LinkVolume 17 / Issue 3

Leadership Spotlight

Mr. Todd Barlow Kings County Superintendent of Schools

  • What led you to become County Superintendent?

    It starts with our students and thoroughly enjoying eleven years as a middle school teacher! Then came nine years as a site and district administrator, and constantly thinking about ways to improve our teachers’ experience so that they might better serve their students. During those years as an administrator, I became increasingly involved in various councils and committees led by the county office, and found myself advocating for districts, sites, personnel and students beyond our own district. The County Superintendency seems like a logical extension of the work we’ve been doing. I had a lot of support from our local education community.

    What inspired you to enter the field of education?

    Like many people, I struggled in school, but had teachers and other staff who greatly impacted my life with their compassion, understanding and patience. I’ve always held their examples as a model for myself, and hope that I might make a difference in the lives of others. Also, as a history and literature fanatic, I was able to spend time teaching subjects I have a passion for.

    Do you have a particular goal that drives you?

    Tracing all actions back to their impact on students. Whatever someone’s role is in our educational system, they are there for the students.

  • What objectives do you hope to achieve?

    Creating a system of professional learning and support, including coaching, to increase the efficacy of teachers and instructional staff throughout the thirteen districts of our county.

    What are your interests?

    Travel, playing music, building a variety of useful objects/furniture out of reclaimed wood, wine tasting, paddleboarding, fishing…the list goes on!

    Who are the special people in your life?

    Family and friends, of course. I am a Texan by marriage. My wife, Amy and I met at Arizona State University and have been together ever since. Our daughter is currently a third-year at UC Davis and looking to save the world through Plant Science! Our extended family, friends, and colleagues are all part of the picture, contributing to an amazing life. We are very thankful.

From The Desk Of

Peter Birdsall CCSESA Executive Director

Earlier this month, Ben Chida, Senior Advisor to the Governor for Cradle to Career, spoke with the Education Coalition about the Governor’s priorities. The general themes can be summarized as “breaking down the siloes” and focusing comprehensively on issues impacting children and families.

As the new Administration establishes itself in Sacramento, it is apparent that different qualities of county offices of education will be called upon than were the primary themes during the Brown Administration. The focus under Governor Brown was on LCFF. Throughout those policy and implementation discussions, a key fact was that only county offices maintain close, ongoing relations with every school district in the state. For that reason, county offices were recognized as the key link to support quality, statewide implementation of the new school funding and accountability system.

Under Governor Newsom, it appears that the key fact about county offices is that county superintendents are the systematic link of the K-12 education system to the other agencies that serve families and children at the local level. County superintendents are deeply engaged in early education and the First 5 Commissions, they are the face of education when tragedies strike in the form of fires or floods, and they work on an ongoing basis with local mental health, children’s services, law enforcement, criminal justice and other agencies.

This shift does not mean CCSESA is scaling back on its commitment to successful implementation of LCFF. Our activities will continue to include substantive discussions about how county offices can best support their school districts on both financial and student performance issues. However, the new emphasis under Governor Newsom is exciting and we cannot afford to pass up on this opportunity to help address the wider range of issues that impact the health and success of students and families throughout California.

We have begun to reflect this shift in emphasis within CCSESA with presentations like the mental health panel at our January meeting, and the work of our federal advocacy team on addressing income eligibility for Head Start programs. We look forward to suggestions from county superintendents and county office staff about issues to address and programs and services to highlight as we build on the key role of county superintendents as links to the broad array of agencies and organizations that serve children and families.

CCSESA Members Hit Capitol Hill

Earlier this month CCSESA members trekked to DC for three days of federal advocacy. Spanning two different federal agencies (USED and HHS) and more than 20 hill offices, the group focused on CCSESA’s federal education priorities.
Topics of discussion focused on:
  • Headstart (seeking a waiver to adjust the poverty rate to ensure more of CA’s needy families can access Headstart programs);
  • IDEA funding (asking for increased federal investment to meet the original federal commitment and to reverse encroachment into state and local budgets);
  • Annual appropriations (urging Congress to raise the spending caps for FY20 and to ensure FY19 levels are the starting point of negotiations);
  • School Based Medicaid (urging Congress to support legislation that would require the Center for Medicaid Services to revise existing guidance to reduce the paperwork and administrative burden schools face when pursuing reimbursement);
  • Secure Rural Schools/Forest Counties (urging Congress to provide funding for  FY19 and FY20, as well as look forward toward a longer-term solution that would create a self-sustaining trust to fund the program in perpetuity outside of the annual appropriations process); and
  • Emergency Disaster Dollars (urging members of the CA delegation to sign a letter requesting two flexibilities related to already-awarded federal emergency dollars, to allow CA to spend the dollars with an extended timeline, using them for both FY17 and FY18 fires).

Overall, the group totaled 23 meetings and was able to make contact in offices where we built new relationships, and in other offices where we were meeting with familiar faces. CCSESA members were joined by CCSESA Director of Intergovernmental & Legal Affairs Amanda M. Dickey, Esq., and School Superintendents Association Noelle Ellerson Ng. These asks are still relevant, and the group had great leave-behind materials that can be made available. We encourage all CCSESA members to make sure their own representatives are aware of these asks. Feel free to share this information (let us know if you need contact information). CCSESA will return for the annual fall legislative trip in September and October; we’d love to see you there!

Access materials from the trip here.


2020 California Teachers of the Year Program

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond invites county offices of education to participate in the 2020 California Teachers of the Year (TOY) Program. Sponsored by the CDE, the California Teacher of the Year Foundation, and California Casualty, the purpose of the TOY Program is to honor the profession chosen by over 300,000 people in the state and to heighten interest in teaching as a career. The program affords the opportunity to bring attention to teachers who successfully employ strategies to increase academic success and narrow the achievement gap among a range of students and to prepare students for 21st century college and careers. California TOYs are frequently called upon to deliver brief, inspirational messages and serve as ambassadors for the teaching profession. Learn more in this letter.

Counties Helping Counties

El Dorado County leaders, responding to the devastation of the recent Camp Fire in Butte County, brought crucial support to their neighbor by providing  urgent mental health care in the form of volunteer counselors and psychologists from the El Dorado County Office of Education.

Read Dr. Manansala’s full article on the subject here.


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