Diverse Coalition Introduces New Policy Resource that Charts Essential Next Steps for California’s Public Education System

The California Education GPS – www.caledgps.org – articulates a shared vision for all students and offers a research-based route forward for legislators and policymakers.

REDWOOD CITY, CA – November 14, 2018 — At a critical period for California public education and the state’s students, the Alliance for Continuous Improvement has introduced the California Education GPS, a resource to guide and support state legislators and policymakers as they work to strengthen and advance education policies and investments that meet the needs of all students.

The California Education GPS reflects the input and consensus of the Alliance for Continuous Improvement – a group of nearly 30 leaders and experts representing parents, students, teachers, administrators, school boards, higher education, early learning, community and social justice causes, business, research, and local and state agencies. The Alliance task force is co-chaired by Eric Heins, President of the California Teachers Association and Wesley Smith, Executive Director of the Association of California School Administrators. It is convened by Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation.

“As we work to modernize public education in California, it’s imperative that we engage together to create a system that reflects our changing world and provides a positive healthy, empowering and relevant experience for all,” said Shelly Masur, CEO of Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation. “That’s why the Education GPS reflects both recent research and the perspectives and expertise of a broad and diverse group of leaders and organizations from across the state. The GPS demonstrates that there is a collective, student-centered, equity-focused vision for California and wide-reaching consensus around the next steps we need to take as a state.”

The Education GPS serves as a dynamic resource for state legislators, leaders, and policymakers. It describes the significant, foundational investments and changes made to California’s public education system in recent years, and offers a series of multi-layered policy recommendations to help state leaders best create the circumstances locally to achieve a shared vision for California’s students and schools.

Wesley Smith, Executive Director of the Association of California School Administrators and co-chair of the Alliance for Continuous Improvement said, “The recommendations in the GPS set a clear course for where state policymakers can best focus their efforts to advance the principles of quality, equity, transparency and engagement – and to help advance California’s commitment to a continuously improving education system that meets or exceeds the needs of all students.”

“The GPS recognizes the need to allow adequate time for local educators and all stakeholders to fully utilize the new system changes and tools to help improve student learning, while also focusing on equity and ensuring that educators and all students receive the support they need to succeed,” said Eric Heins, President of the California Teachers Association and co-chair of the Alliance.

Former California Assembly member and current State Director for the Council for a Strong America Susan Bonilla stated, “California’s future economy and success depends on our state continuing to invest in, learn from, and improve our public education system. The GPS encourages state policymakers to recognize that it will take time and persistence to reach the ultimate destination. The state can best fulfill its essential role by focusing on this series of strategic priorities that will strengthen and accelerate the changes set in place.”

“Development of the GPS is not an end point, but a next chapter in achieving our collective vision for California’s schools – a high-achieving public education system that is student-centered, learning-oriented, continuously improving, equitable, and connected to families and communities. While California has made huge strides, there is still difficult work ahead to make this vision a reality – and we stand ready to support policymakers in the work,” said Linda Darling Hammond, President of the Learning Policy Institute.

“The GPS sets out a clear route forward to advance California’s education system, building on important policies such as the Local Control Funding Formula [LCFF] that have been put in place. It highlights the vital need to fully and equitably invest in and all students – especially vulnerable and underserved students – and to focus on supporting the whole child and positive school climate and conditions for all students, families and educators,” said Saa’un Bell, Interim Executive Director for Californians For Justice.

Samantha Tran, Senior Managing Director of Education Policy at Children Now said, “The GPS draws on important and timely research, including the recently released Getting Down to Facts II studies. It reflects core areas where there is consensus among many diverse organizations and interests for strengthening the education system – such as the vital importance of early learning and more timely and robust data.”

“California State PTA [Parent Teacher Association] is glad to see that the GPS recognizes the crucial importance of parent, family and community engagement as part of its recommended route forward for California’s education system. The research and recommendations included in the GPS are a valuable resource for legislators, policymakers and their staff teams as they work to craft state policies and increase investments to improve outcomes for all students,” said Mary Perry, the association’s Vice-President for Education.

The GPS’ recommendations also affirm the importance of the state’s academic standards, the need to ensure all students have access to a broad and rigorous course of study and addressing crucial shortages of educators and school leaders.

“One of the essential next steps recommended in the GPS is developing an aligned strategy for cultivating our teacher workforce, including strengthening the ways we recruit, develop, support and retain teachers and principals,” said Ryan Ruelas, a teacher in the Anaheim Union High School District and a school board member for the Anaheim Elementary School District.

“A key part of the work ahead must be continuing to build the capacity of all educators and school and district leaders to equitably implement academic standards and provide rich, rigorous learning experiences to each and every student, across all subject areas and at all grade levels,” said Carrie Hahnel, Interim Co-Executive Director at The Education Trust-West.

In recent years California has moved forward with essential upgrades that are transforming the state’s public education system. Together, these system-wide changes constitute a fundamentally new approach that California has embarked on called continuous improvement.

Said Jorge Aguilar, Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District, “The GPS calls on policymakers to reinforce the system-wide focus on continuous improvement and accountability. Continuous improvement is a shift away from traditional approaches and relies on engaging local educators, administrators, staff, parents and families in the work to improve outcomes for all students. Additionally, continuous improvement depends on everyone in California’s public education system – locally, regionally and statewide – taking collective responsibility for the success of all students.”