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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #12-9
January 20, 2012
Contact: Lara Azar
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

Torlakson Launches Effort to Boost Educator Excellence

SACRAMENTO—Carrying out a central element of his Blueprint for Great Schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced the creation of an Educator Excellence Task Force to recommend ways to strengthen California's teacher corps.

The task force will be a joint effort between the California Department of Education and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. It will be co-chaired by two nationally recognized education leaders: Stanford University's Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, and Superintendent Chris Steinhauser of Long Beach Unified School District, the third largest district in California. The full membership of the task force will be announced soon.

"For all the necessity of good facilities, high-quality materials and talented administrators, teachers are really at the center of a child's school day," Torlakson said. "That's why one of the cornerstones of our Blueprint for Great Schools is developing a system that will lead to teachers who are consistently well-prepared and well-supported, and who continue to have opportunities to grow throughout their careers.

"That's also why Dr. Darling-Hammond and Superintendent Steinhauser have my thanks and my admiration for being willing to oversee this important work."

In August 2011, Torlakson released his Blueprint, which summarized the recommendations by his Transition Advisory Team regarding key areas affecting public education. Recognizing the central role played by teachers and school leaders in improving student learning, the Blueprint called for an Educator Excellence Task Force that will:

  • Develop comprehensive recruitment, training and preparation frameworks for both new and experienced educators;
  • Encourage the development of more effective educator evaluation systems;
  • Ensure that these systems are supported by training for evaluators, mentoring for teachers, and professional development programs; and
  • Recommend how these systems should be designed, supported, and implemented.

Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at the Stanford University of Education, where she launched the School Redesign Network, the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute, and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. She serves on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing by appointment of Governor Jerry Brown, and she has written more than 300 articles on education policy and practice, as well as more than a dozen books.

The other co-chair of the Educator Excellence Task Force will be Chris Steinhauser, a 30-year veteran educator in Long Beach's diverse school system who has been recognized nationally for improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps. He began his career teaching at an inner-city elementary school, going on to become a school principal and deputy superintendent before the local school board unanimously appointed him superintendent in 2002.

"Teaching is quite possibly the most important job there is," Torlakson said. "Some people think we can fire our way to success. I say it's time to treat teaching as the critical profession it is and to treat teachers as the professionals they are."

For more information Torlakson's Blueprint for Great Schools initiative, please visit the California Department of Education's Web site at A Blueprint For Great Schools - Initiatives & Programs.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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