May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Governor Brown’s Education Plans

Posted: Saturday, January 1st, 2011

by Christine Bertrand

Governor Jerry Brown has named his appointments to the State Board of Education.  As was mentioned in this column last month, Governor Brown had the opportunity to appoint seven new members to the 11-member state board, and he has done so in record time.  The list includes former superintendent of public instruction Bill Honig, who served in that position from 1983 to 1993 and was appointed to the state board the last time Jerry Brown was governor, former superintendent of the Palm Springs Unified School District and the Long Beach Unified School District Carl Cohn, and California Teachers Association lobbyist Patricia Rucker, among others.  The complete list can be found here.

The governor’s ability to see many of his goals for education come to fruition will be largely determined by these new appointments.  At first glance, it would appear that the make-up of the state board differs greatly from the largely charter school-focused members who have populated the state board under Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And just what are the new governor’s goals for education?  On the upside, Governor Brown appears to recognize some of the problems our current education system has propagated, most particularly as it relates to assessments and, in a boost to science, the narrowing of the curriculum.  Specifically, Brown’s education platform suggests the state testing scheme needs an overhaul and proposes that:

  • tests should be reduced in scope and testing time, and results need to be provided to educators and parents more quickly
  • year-end tests should be supplemented by very short assessments during the school year, with the goal of helping teachers, students, and families know where they stand and what specific improvements are needed
  • tests should not measure factoids as much as understanding
  • state tests should be linked to college preparation and career readiness, but current tests were not designed to do this.

In addition, Governor Brown’s education platform promotes “a more balanced and creative school curriculum and would place “special emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).  The platform recognizes that

current federal and state policies encourage much more school time for basic math and language arts at the expense of other vital subjects.  California’s public schools need a broader vision of what constitutes an educated person.  I will create local and state initiatives to increase school focus on science, history and the humanities—without reducing needed attention to math and English.

(Governor Brown’s education plan can be found here:

There may be another bit of good news on the way for education: Reportedly, Governor Brown’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2011-12 does not include cuts to K-12 education.  There is speculation, however, that, in order to avoid further education cuts, the governor will seek a voter-approved extension of Governor Schwarzenegger’s earlier tax hikes which, if approved, would alleviate about one-third of the state’s budget shortfall.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s office has indicated that without any increase in the state’s revenue, K-12 schools could lose over $2 billion, which is roughly four percent, in funding for the 2011-12 school year.

As well, Governor Brown has indicated he’d like to get next year’s budget approved within the first few months of his term, instead of having it drag out until October or November as has been the case in the last few years, so perhaps educators won’t be left to wonder for months, even into the next school year, what their budgets would be.

Keep updated on the Capitol goings-on by regularly checking California Classroom Science and the CSTA website (

Christine Bertrand is executive director of CSTA.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

One Response

  1. […] “unintended consequence” of the California State University system since 2011, echoing Governor Brown’s  and the federal government’s  ideology that STEM fields will make California and the U.S. […]

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.