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Dr. Patrick L. Traynor Alpine County Superintendent of Schools

  • What led you to become County Superintendent?

    I first became intrigued with the support County Offices of Education provided when I became a district office administrator in Colton Joint Unified School District in San Bernardino County. I recall working with San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools’ Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Beth Higbee when I as a Director of Language Support Services for English Learners, then Director of Middle School Curriculum and Instruction and Assessment and Evaluation, and then Assistant Superintendent of Student Assessment and Accountability in Hesperia Unified. When I became Director of State Assessment and Administration at the California Department of Education, I learned of CCSESA and was particularly delighted to share the latest information regarding California’s transition to a new assessment system with CCSESA’s Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee (CISC). What led me specifically to the County Superintendency was timing. My end goal in education had been for some time to be superintendent. When I saw the opening in Alpine County, a region I adored for many years, for County AND District Superintendent, I knew I needed to apply. It was an ideal location for me in the Sierra’s with an ideal position.

  • What inspired you to enter the field of education?

    In my later years in college, I developed a passion for learning for its own sake, particularly in the sciences. I wanted more than anything to instill this passion to our youth. So, I got my credential in both the Life and Physical Sciences, moved from Davis to Riverside and began teaching in Riverside Unified School District. I then became even more intrigued that there were so many more worthwhile challenges to overcome in instilling this passion to others. All the pedagogy and approaches I studied made even more sense. At every level of education since then, site, district administration, state, and even Pre-K, I still feel this passion.

From The Desk Of

Peter Birdsall CCSESA Executive Director

Governor Newsom’s proposed state budget will provide some meaningful financial relief for school districts. The reaction to the proposal has been very positive and justifiably deserves our support.

In addition to fully funding the estimated cost-of-living adjustment of 3.46%, the proposed budget includes a $3 billion, non-Proposition 98 contribution to CalSTRS to help reduce the unfunded liability.  This proposal would reduce the required employer CalSTRS contribution for 2019-20 and subsequent years, helping mitigate the cost pressures being faced by school districts across the state.

The Governor also proposes to address another major source of financial distress—the growing costs of special education.  The Governor proposes $576 million (of which $186 million is one-time) “to support expanded special education services and school readiness supports of local educational agencies with high percentages of both students with disabilities and unduplicated students who are low-income, youth in foster care, and English language learners.”

Although the increased funding for special education is needed, it is not clear at this time which agencies will receive this funding. For these details, we need to wait for the draft Trailer Bill Language, which will be released on or about February 1.

A particularly important question is whether this new funding is intended primarily to relieve the current costs of special education, or to help districts address the school readiness issues that may have resulted in high percentages of students being identified for special education? The answer will have important implications for the linkage of this new funding to the improvement plans of districts that have been identified for differentiated assistance based on their students with disabilities.

COEs Help Prepare for 2020 Census

The US Census takes place every 10 years and will be next conducted in 2020. The Census has gathered valuable information since 1790, and is used to determine funding for various federal, state and local projects. It is also used to determine how many seats each state is allocated in the US House of Representatives. A major issue in the preparation for the upcoming census is a proposal by the Trump Administration to add a question on citizenship status.  Numerous lawsuits have been filed by states and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to remove the question from the Census. The primary concern is that question could make it more difficult to convince people to participate in the census, with the result of reduced funding and political representation due to an undercount of the population in certain communities. On January 15, 2019, a federal judge in New York has ruled against the Administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.  The Supreme Court will hear an oral argument which is related to the citizenship question in the census. The hearing is currently scheduled for February 19, 2019. At the Birth to Twelfth Grade Water Cooler Conference in October, 2018 in Sacramento, a panel discussed the implications of the 2020 US Census. The panel, introduced by CCSESA Executive Director Peter Birdsall, included comments by Ditas Katague, Director of the California Complete Count Office (CCCO), regarding pilot projects taking place in cooperation with the Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Fresno County Offices of Education. As a part of statewide outreach and education, the Complete Count Office contracted with the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) to develop and pilot educational support materials about the 2020 Census for students and teachers in California.  In Phases I and II, SCOE sub-contracted with Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) for facilitation of the process. In Phase III, SCOE is subcontracting with Fresno County Office of Education to support the work statewide.  In Phase I of the pilot program, completed in late 2018, twenty teachers from grades 5, 8, 11 and 12, created the curriculum, and piloted the curriculum in their classrooms. The curriculum focuses on United states history and governmental aspects based on grade level.  The curriculum can be accessed here.

Top-Two Candidates To Become California’s Executive And Lead Of CDE Advance To November Runoff

Earlier this month, voters in California’s primary election determined the top two candidates that will be facing off in November to decide who will serve as Californian’s chief executive and who will lead California’s Department of Education. Securing his place in the Gubernatorial runoff in November with 33.7% of the vote, is the current lieutenant governor of California, Gavin Newsom (D). Since the Democrat declared his candidacy, Newsom has campaigned on a platform of supporting early education, with a focus on supporting those aged 0-3. Newsom has since released a more comprehensive education agenda, additionally advocating support for full service community schools, greater access to STEM programs, greater resources allocated to support the recruitment and retention of new teachers, and the establishment of 500,000 new apprenticeships by 2029. Newsom’s education agenda can be found here. Receiving 25.8% of Californian’s vote in June, businessman John Cox (R) will be the second name appearing on the November ballot. As of the June primary, Cox had not yet released a formal education agenda, but throughout Gubernatorial debates and interviews the Republican candidate echoed his vision for California’s education system in three words, “Technology. Choice. Competition.” As Cox expressed in a May interview with EdSource, an increase in the amount of charter schools encourages competition amongst educational providers, which then promotes greater flexibility for parents to select a school that will be the best fit the needs of their child. Cox’s policy agenda can be found here. Advancing to the runoff for the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction will be Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond, both Democrats. Tuck, former CEO of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, celebrated a narrow victory receiving 200,000 more votes than Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. Campaigns to become California’s State Superintendent are expected to ramp up significantly going into November, with ten million dollars already spent by outside groups. This number is predicted to increase significantly over the next five months. Thurmond’s policy agenda can be found here, and Tuck’s here.


Jane Steinkamp Accepts Christine Bertrand Advocacy Award
at California Science Teachers Association Conference

At last months 2018 California Science Education Conference Awards Luncheon in Pasadena, CA, CSTA President Jill Grace presented the Christine Bertrand Advocacy Award to 2019 CISC Chair Jane Steinkamp. Upon receipt of the honor, Jane shared a very inspiring speech with the audience.

Read her acceptance speech in its entirety here.

CSTA Award Nominations Now Open

California Science Teachers Association award nominations are now open. Click here to view all award programs including the Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, Future Science Teachers Award, Distinguished Contributions Award, and more. Deadline to submit is May 9, 2019.

Coaching for Improvement 2019 Now Open

Individuals interested in the course must complete an application and be accepted by Improvement Collective prior to registering. Applications are due by May 24 and participants will be notified of acceptance into the course no later than June 14, 2019. Learn more about registration here.

NPR Hosting Student Podcast Challenge

NPR is hosting its first-ever student podcast challenge. The winning podcasts will be included in segments of NPR’s shows, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, during the spring. The contest is open to students in grades 5 through 12.

These downloadable and streaming audio files can cover any topic, but NPR had some suggestions in its official rules:

  • Stories about the school or community that others would want to hear;
  • A moment from history that every student should know;
  • A debate on a topic of importance to students;
  • What in the world students want to change; or
  • Coverage of something “that kids understand and grownups don’t.”
Submissions are due from teachers between Jan. 1 and Mar. 31, 2019.

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