On January 19, the Workforce Development Committee was pleased to welcome guest speaker Bill Habermehl, Superintendent, Orange County Department of Education.
Mr. Habermehl started by re-stating several facts and stats. We have over 500,000 students in public schools in Orange County and 100,000 in private school. Orange County has the largest home-schooled population in the United States. The Superintendent also discussed that while Orange County is doing better than the state and national averages, our students need to be improve in math and writing skills to be able to compete on a global level.
He discussed the state budget and stated that even though Governor Brown was going to keep K-12 education flat, the Superintendent predicted that Orange County will still be facing over $100 million in cuts and is preparing for that prospect. Mr. Habermehl is also preparing for increased class sizes and an increase in the cost of books for Orange County students.
The Superintendent discussed goals for the Department of Education that will teach students how to problem solve and learn critical thinking skills. Another goal is to hire teachers that are proficient in technology skills and at the same time work to update archaic equipment in our schools by investing in the future workforce. Mr. Habermehl will also be pushing for the individual school boards to have more freedom to make decisions based on their neighborhoods and not see them have their hands tied with needless red-tape and bureaucracy. That in turn will alleviate the burden on the state of California.
That leads into the Common Core Standards. (http://www.corestandards.org/) The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce. The Standards consist of:
- Are aligned with college and work expectations;
- Are clear, understandable and consistent; Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
- Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
- Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
- Are evidence-based.
Several other initiatives Mr. Habermehl talked about were how schools and business need to build better partnerships such as inviting engineers on campus to “grade” projects. The Superintendent is also working on creating more partnerships with parents such as with OCBC’s Latino Educational Attainment Initiative. But the biggest goal for Mr. Habermehl is to cut those pesky 4,000 standards in California to 400. This goal, while bold, will ensure an easier and more transparent to teach our students and prepare them for the workforce in Southern California.