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CCSESA Newsletter2019

June Volume 17 / Issue 6

Leadership Link

Ms. Lynn Mackey Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools

  • What led you to become County Superintendent?

    I have worked at the Contra Costa County Office of Education for over 20 years, as a teacher, principal and administrator. I have lived in Contra Costa County my entire life. I was even a student in our community school a million years ago. I love the work we do, not only the work we do with our own students, but also the work supporting the districts in our county. When the previous superintendent announced she was retiring, she asked me to run because she wanted someone who cares deeply about our students and who believes in being of service. Campaigning scared me at first and felt completely out of my nature, but in the end it was a transformative experience I will never forget. I am so proud to be the Superintendent of Contra Costa County.

    What inspired you to enter the field of education?

    I hated school and dropped out in middle school. I know what the world can be for someone with no education. I was a single teenage mother living outside of any support system. I went back to school as an adult and education helped turn my life around. I wanted to give others the opportunity I had been given. I started teaching in our county jails, helping students get their GED and their High School Diploma. I wanted to change the system so no one would fall through the cracks.

    Do you have a particular goal that drives you?

    That no student falls through the cracks. To focus on the small percentage of students who schools aren’t working for. I want to make schools a better place for all students.

  • What objectives do you hope to achieve?

    We have recently embarked on strategic planning work in our office. I want to spend time and attention on our own internal organizational health as well as pinpointing what services will best support our school districts. I want to make sure our organization is a great place to work, and that we offer the highest quality services to our districts and community.

    What are your interests?

    Reading, gardening, traveling, my family, my friends, my work.

    Who are the special people in your life?

    My family and friends. My daughter, my husband, my grandson. Also I am the youngest of six and all of us live within ten minutes of each other. I see my sisters and my mother all the time. I am madly in love with my 3 ½ year old grandson. I have some very good friends who helped me turn my life around and encouraged me thirty years ago while I went back to school. They are still in my life and I love them dearly. I also work with amazing people who inspire me every day.

From The Desk Of

Peter Birdsall Executive Director

For several years now there have been demands for special education reform, but this year’s state budget tries a new approach.  The state has approved a significant increased investment in special education ($645.8 million) but has indicated that this funding will only be on-going if there is language in the 2020-21 budget package that “makes statutory changes designed to improve the academic outcomes of individuals with exceptional needs”.

This is a new chapter in a story that has evolved over several decades.  In the 1970’s, the federal government passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with the guarantee of a free appropriate public education.  In California, major legislation over half a decade shifted the state from a funding model based on category of disability (e.g., blind, learning handicapped) to one based on type of service (special day class, resource specialist).  That legislation, for which I was the lead staff as chief of the legislative office for State Superintendent Wilson Riles, also created the statewide system of Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs).

Concerned by potential financial incentives to identify students for higher funded service settings rather than emphasize early intervention, Dave Gordon, at that time the superintendent of Elk Grove USD, sought a state waiver to instead fund his district on the basis of regular ADA.  As it happens, I served as a consultant to Elk Grove in obtaining that waiver, the success of which eventually led to statewide implementation through AB 602.

Although financial incentives (and adequate funding) and special education laws clearly matter, it has become increasingly evident that appropriately serving individuals with exceptional needs is first and foremost a general education responsibility.  The California Special Education Task Force Report (2015) emphasizes “one system” and  envisions “general education and special education working together seamlessly as one system that is designed to address the needs of all students—as soon as they are apparent.”

Within CCSESA, one of our challenges for the coming year is to help develop and refine the changes to statute that will flow out of the budget agreement, while keeping our focus on the general education/special education collaboration that has the greatest potential to positively impact students, classrooms and schools.

CCSESA’s 5th Annual Creativity at the Core Summer Institute is just around the corner!

Join us
at the Monterey Tides Hotel in Monterey on July 10-12, 2019. The event is sponsored in partnership with the Monterey County Office of Education, CREATE CA, and the California Department of Education. Guest speakers include: Dr. Ivonne Chand O’Neal, researcher and author, who has worked nationally on arts and creativity research; and Dr. Ping Ho, Director of the Center for Arts and Healing at UCLA, who will address the topic of social and emotional learning and the arts. Letty Kraus, Dr. Lindsay Weiss, and Jack Mitchell, consultants for the California Department of Education will also present sessions on the new California Arts Standards and other key arts education topics.

Pat Wayne, CREATE CA, will be providing information on the newly launched statewide public will campaign. Monterey area artists will be providing intensive studio opportunities, that include Dr. Rob Klevan, Monterey Jazz Festival; Emiliano Valdez, El Teatro Campesino; Fran Spector, Spector Dance; Marcia Perry, Youth Arts Collective; and Hamish Tyler, Monterey County Office of Education’s Mobile Digital Media Studio. Participants will also have evening opportunities, which include viewing Dr. Rickett’s famous lab on Cannery Row and attending an outdoor musical theatre performance at the historic Forest Theater Guild in Carmel compliments of the Monterey County Office of Education/The Media Center for Art, Education, and Technology (MCAET).

For more information or to register, click here. The institute is almost full, so register soon to save your spot!

Who should attend?
K-University teachers, county office and district administrators, curriculum directors, artist educators, arts leaders, pre-service teachers, arts specialists, parents, and school board members. Please help us in promoting the institute.


New CA Standards Mobile App

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has announced the release of the CDE’s first-ever mobile app for the California Content Standards, a tool that provides quick, targeted access to arts, computer science, health education, history–social science, and mathematics standards. The app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows devices. Read more about the app here.


Calaveras High School Students Get Real-World Experience in County Office

Upperclassman in Calaveras County looking to get professional experience ahead of graduation can take advantage of the Calaveras County Office of Education’s internship program. The positions are unpaid, but offer volunteer hours. “I think it’s a great opportunity to get their feet wet in an area they are interested in. I think it just gives them real world experience. They can gain more exposure into areas they are interested in pursuing in the future,” said COE Career Technician Terri Tanner. Read more about the COE program here.

Santa Clara County Office of Education Launches #IVoted Video Competition

The Santa Clara County Office of Education is sponsoring a video competition to help motivate young people to vote. The winning videos will become part of an educator’s tool kit for High School Voter Education Weeks and shared online to help inspire future voters and motivate eligible voters. The #IVoted Video Competition is open to junior and high school aged students through Region 5 (Santa Clara, San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties). Students will create a video based on the prompt Why is voting important? Entries will be judged on a range of criteria including message, creativity, originality and reach. Entries will be submitted via youtube by September 6, 2019. Read full contest rules and outline here.

San Joaquin County Students Get Hands On Science Experience

The Durham Ferry Outdoor Education Center is a regional center for STEM and environmental exploration, owned and operated by San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE). It sits on over 200 acres of land nestled in a large meander of the San Joaquin River in Manteca, California. The MEANDER program, recently featured on an episode of Inside California Education, promotes incorporation of environmental literacy in NGSS lesson sequences by providing grade specific outdoor education experience for students in grades 3-5. Participants hike along trails in the natural riverside ecosystem, and engage in activities connected to NGSS and California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts. Students use their senses and minds to become scientists in their local environment. Watch this episode of Inside California Education to learn more about this program.


 Teacher Recruitment Program Gaining Media Attention

The Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE), lead agency for the California Center on Teaching Careers, California Teacher Recruitment Program has been highly successful in recruiting teachers who match the needs of schools in the Central Valley and other high needs districts in the state. Based on 15 years of experience in teacher recruitment and support, TCOE was awarded the 2017 California Center on Teaching Careers (The Center) grant to provide collaborative leadership on a statewide level through seven regional satellite centers (County Offices of Education from Tulare [Lead], Riverside, San Diego, Los Angeles, Sonoma, Ventura, and Shasta) dedicated to increasing the teacher workforce, particularly in the recruitment of ethnically diverse/bilingual math, science, and special education teachers. Read Donna Glassman-Sommer’s article, “Finding Teachers Where They Live & Casting a Wider Net — How a New Recruitment Program Is Successfully Diversifying the Profession in California”, here.

Riverside County To Host First Ever Esports Tournament in July

Riverside County has joined the burgeouning number of high school Esports Leagues, and will be participating in their first-ever Esports Tournament this July. Riverside County’s Esports League hopes to further connect students to school and school achievement such as scholarships. Those interested are invited to attend the event. More information can be found here.


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