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Transforming Schools: Superintendent’s Initiatives

Information and resources about the initiatives and priorities of State Superintendent Tony Thurmond that transform our California K-12 public schools by integrating new programs and strategies for students, families, educators, and LEAs.

Transforming California Schools Logo with seven components: Community Schools, Professional Learning, Mental Health Support, Universal Prekindergarten, Universal Meals, Antibias Education, and Expanded Learning Programs

Big changes are underway for California K–12 education, and we need all the resources possible to help students heal, recover, and thrive.

This is a pivotal moment—an opportunity to fuse our investments in education, the urgency of the COVID-19 response, and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to break the cycle of educational inequity.

The 2022–23 California budget will almost triple the amount of per-pupil investment from a decade ago and will allow the state to address historic inequities, learning loss, and the social–emotional needs of our students.

Transforming Schools Initiative

At the California Department of Education (CDE), we are using these historic investments in public education to transform our California schools. It should be noted that as we look to transform our schools, it is critical that we integrate new programs and strategies to support our students, families, educators, and local educational agencies.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond’s Key Initiatives for Transforming California Schools

Community Schools: It Takes a Village—Schools Can Be More Than Academics

A community school is a public school serving any grade prekindergarten–12, inclusive, with community partnerships that ensure pupil learning and whole-child and family development. This includes integrated support services, collaborative leadership, extended learning time, and practices for educators and administrators.

Learn more about Community Schools

Professional Learning: Supporting Our Teachers and Mentors

We are re-evaluating how our teachers and mentors are being engaged. Proactive teacher support will be key to success in the short and long term. Teachers are learning new technologies, engaging in educator trainings, and putting in the work to reach our students.

Teacher preparation programs will need to reflect our new reality over the long term and help prepare future teachers for the flexibility and adaptability that will help them succeed and reach every kind of learner.

Learn more about Professional Learning

Mental Health Support: A Healthy Mind Is Essential for Learning

Recent years have taken a toll on our students, administrators, teachers, and support staff across the board, but we see disproportionate effects on students of color, English learners, and students of low socioeconomic status. There has been significant COVID infection and death, COVID-related economic impacts, and learning loss.

Our schools and kids—especially students of color and those furthest from opportunity—need additional support. We must deepen our efforts to create equitable opportunities for this generation of students and for generations to come.

Learn more about Mental Health Support

Universal Prekindergarten (UPK): Early Start for Greater Growth and Achievement

Decades of research demonstrates that high-quality early learning experiences can have long-lasting impacts on both short-term outcomes (like test scores) and long-term outcomes, including grade retention, special education placement, and high school graduation—and later, income levels and home ownership.

High-quality early education disrupts the school-to-prison pipeline, reduces the likelihood of suspensions and expulsions, and increases the likelihood of home ownership, college attendance, and positive health outcomes later in life.

UPK will bring together programs across early learning and K–12, relying heavily on transitional kindergarten and the California State Preschool Program, to ensure every four-year-old child—regardless of background, race, zip code, immigration status, or income level—has access to a quality learning experience the year before kindergarten.

Learn more about Universal Prekindergarten

Universal Meals: Nourishing Young Minds for Learning

Universal School Meals provide the opportunity for all students to reach their full academic potential by fueling their brains and nurturing their social–emotional needs for optimal learning. The California Universal Meals Program is designed to build on the foundations of the federal National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program and to supplement, not replace.

Learn more about Universal Meals

Antibias Education: Preventing, Addressing, and Eliminating Racism and Bias

This initiative is designed to empower educators and students to confront hate, bigotry, racism, and bias rising in communities across the state and nation. CDE leads a series of strategies—including educator training grants, partnerships with community leaders, examination of policies, virtual classroom sessions—that leverage the power of education to create a more just society.

Learn more about Antibias Education

Expanded Learning Programs: Education Outside of the Classroom

Expanded Learning refers to before school, after school, summer, and intersession learning experiences that develop the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs and interests of students. Expanded Learning opportunities should be hands-on, engaging, student-centered, results-driven, involve community partners, and complement learning activities in the regular school day/year.

Learn more about Expanded Learning Programs

Other Related Priorities

California Literacy: Reading by Third Grade and Beyond

State Superintendent Thurmond’s Reading by Third Grade and Beyond initiative aims to ensure literacy and biliteracy for students in California. The effort includes policies, initiatives, evidence-based practices, and resources for educators, parents, and community members to ensure California students are reading by third grade and beyond.

Learn more about California Literacy

Black Student Achievement Task Force

In an effort to call out the impacts that systemic and institutional racism have had on Black students in California, State Superintendent Thurmond formally launched a statewide task force, Improving Black Student Achievement.

Improving Black Student Achievement news releases:

For more information or questions, contact Blake Johnson, Legislative Policy Representative, at

Literacy Task Force

State Superintendent Thurmond launched a literacy task force to help all California students reach the goal of literacy by third grade, by the year 2026. This effort will also include a biliteracy milestone for dual-language learners. The task force pulled together experts and community partners to design a strategy for reaching this goal, including making recommendations to expand resources for improving reading proficiency of California students.

For more information, email

Literacy Task Force news release:

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces Co-Chairs for Statewide Literacy Task Force (Dated 01-Oct-2021)

Closing the Digital Divide

The Closing the Digital Divide Initiative focuses on identifying needed resources and partnerships to support distance learning in California schools. State Superintendent Thurmond and his Closing the Digital Divide Task Force have been working to help equip all California students with computing devices and connectivity to ensure equitable teaching and learning environments.

Learn more about Closing the Digital Divide

Looking for more?

Questions:   Executive Office | 916-319-0800
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, January 30, 2024
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