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California Superintendent Makes S.T.E.M. A Priority

On March 24 California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson spoke to OCBC about the state of education and received input from those in attendance regarding Orange County’s educational needs. Mr. Torlakson believes that the public will vote for the Governor’s tax extensions that will appear on the June ballot. But the Superintendent reiterated that he was interested in listening to and engaging with business on new and innovative ideas that will bring California further along in the digital age.

The Department of Education is forming several advisory groups that include recruiting and retaining better teachers. With the tagline “No Child Left Offline,” another advisory group is working on how to integrate more technology into schools. An emerging advisory group will tackle energy efficiency in schools and how school districts can implement sustainability measures to save money and jobs.

Mr. Torlakson will continue to focus on improving math, science and English skills for students and will discuss with leaders from various colleges how best to transition students with these skills into high-wage, high-skill jobs in California.

Lucy Dunn, OCBC President and CEO, spoke to the issue of local control in Orange County, asking for the tools we need to do the jobs we know well. By instituting local control, the voters of Orange County can hold our local elected officials accountable and measure success. Ms. Dunn also insisted that regulatory reform is essential to moving our education system forward, particularly given that California is ranked near the bottom nationally.

The attendees were united on the prospect of a possible school construction bond that Mr. Torlakson will be advocating for in 2012. The Superintendent reiterated that he would stretch every dime for every dollar.

Irvine Unified School District Board Trustee, Gavin Huntley-Fenner asked the Superintendent if schools will ever get the opportunity to use “open source” to obtain updated information, pointing out that printed books are obsolete given the age of instant information and technology. Mr. Torlakson agreed that the system needed to be reformed and that we needed to start thinking digitally.

Mr. Torlakson concluded by discussing plans to shrink the Achievement Gap, implementing a high quality pre-school program, instituting a literacy campaign for California and working with Governor Brown on pension reform.

For more information contact Alicia Berhow, Director of Workforce Development.

Posted on March 29, 2011

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