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.