September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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 Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.