Print this Article

Bill Would Define Duties, Roles of Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Board of Education, and Secretary of Education

May 6, 2010

Senate Bill 1186 (Liu, D-Pasadena) could make a major shift in the way education is governed at the top in our state.  The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), along with the Small School Districts Association, has already gone on record in support of the bill.

“ACSA supports SB 1186 as a common-sense approach to bringing balance back to education governance,” said ACSA Legislative Advocate Sherry Skelly Griffith. “It clarifies that it is our state-elected superintendent that oversees California’s schools and that the appointed State Board of Education (SBE) must achieve balance to truly represent the students and schools of this state.”

SB 1186 aims to delineate the roles of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (or SPI, an elective office), the State Board of Education (whose members are appointed by the Governor) and California’s Secretary of Education (appointed by the Governor, and primarily an advisor to the Governor).  It echoes some of the recommendations from the California Master Plan for Education effort of a few years ago.

The Master Plan studies found that a great deal of confusion and overlapping exists in the ill-defined roles of the triumvirate that leads the state’s K-12 education system

The roles of each are not entirely clearly spelled out, and SB 1186 attempts to accomplish this in the following manner:

State Board of Education

  1. The bill requires that the SBE be balanced, representing different geographical regions of the state and representing the various education stakeholders, including teachers, principals, school district administrators and financial officers, charter school administrators, county offices of education, school district governing boards, classified employees and parents.  (Currently, the membership of the SBE is not geographically diverse: long-serving members Ruth Bloom, Yvonne Chan, Gregory Jones, and Jonathan Williams come from the Los Angeles area, as do newly appointed SBE members Alan Arkatov and Ben Austin. Board president Ted Mitchell comes from Orange County. The only SBE member from the San Francisco Bay Area is David Lopez.  SBE member James Aschwanden lives in a rural area south of Sacramento.  There are no SBE members from the San Diego area, the San Joaquin Valley, or from the state’s northern tier (coastal counties from San Francisco to Oregon, and inland counties north of Sacramento).
  2. The bill would change the authority of the SBE from the current charge “to determine all questions of policy within its powers” to instead require the board, along with the secretary of education, to advise the governor on education policy.
  3. SB 1186 would repeal the broad authority of the SBE to adopt regulations for governance of K-12 schools that receive financial support from the state and instead specifies the SBE shall adopt rules and regulations not inconsistent with the laws of the state for its own procedures.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction

  1. SB 1186 would repeal the requirement that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) be responsible for implementing policies that have been decided upon by the SBE and answerable to them, and instead specifies the SPI is to ensure delivery of high-quality education to pre-K through grade 12 students.
  2. The bill specifically states the SPI is responsible for establishing educational expectations for pupils, apportioning resources to schools, managing statewide educational and financial accountability programs, and facilitating educational accountability by administering and promoting the effective use of data to measure and improve pupil learning.

It also states that educational accountability includes measuring student and school performance and ensuring adequate and equitable education, including special education law compliance; monitoring the implementation of state and federal programs; identifying schools that fail to meet student achievement targets; and defining and implementing intervention strategies for schools that fail to meet student achievement targets.

Secretary of Education

  1. SB 1186 would designate that the Secretary of Education shall be a cabinet-level appointment to advise the governor on education issues, to be nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.
  2. The bill requires the Secretary of Education to develop and recommend policies and programs that will promote sharing and consolidation of educational services among school districts and county offices of education, expansion of K-12 education to include early childhood education, and an increase in the ratio of school counselors to middle and high school pupils.

Source:  Association of California School Administrators, EdBrief staff.