June 15, 2017
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Visits Mexico to Promote Cooperation, Friendship, and Collaboration with Mexican Educators
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson met today with the top-ranking education official in Mexico to promote closer ties and friendship between California and Mexico, expand teacher exchange programs, and help serve California students if their parents are deported to Mexico.
Torlakson met with Mexico’s Secretary of Education Aurelio Nuño Mayer as well as other government officials and discussed ways California could work more closely with Mexico.
“The national political atmosphere at this time makes it especially important to reiterate the bonds of friendship between California and Mexico. Our goal for this trip is to deepen our friendship, build stronger ties, and create closer cooperation between educators in California and Mexico,” said Torlakson, a former high school science teacher and coach.
Torlakson leads the nation’s largest public education system with more than 6.2 million students at 10,000 schools. About 54 percent of California students are Latino, and nearly 1.4 million are English learners.
“It is critical that we work together to provide support to students who end up attending schools in both California and Mexico so they are not left behind and can receive a world-class education,” he said.
Torlakson also said he wants to expand and improve teacher exchange programs. “There are many terrific examples of how California and Mexico can both help educators build and expand their professional development and skills,” Torlakson said.
California has a Binational Migrant Education Exchange Program, which includes nearly 60 teachers from Mexico who work side-by-side with California educators, to assist students in migrant families. That’s nearly double the number of teachers from Mexico just two years ago.
The CDE’s Exchange Teacher Program is up to 105 full-time contracts for classroom teachers who come to California, including 31 from Mexico. Torlakson said the demand for bilingual teachers is growing after California voters last year overwhelmingly passed Proposition 58, which removed outdated limitations on bilingual and multilingual instruction. He encouraged Mexican officials to host more California teachers and help them develop their Spanish-language skills.
Torlakson also thanked Mexican officials for assisting families when an undocumented parent is deported to Mexico and students have to leave California classrooms to rejoin their families. Torlakson said he strongly opposes any immigration actions by the administration of President Donald Trump that target schools or interrupt a student’s education.
Torlakson has urged California school districts to declare themselves “Safe Havens” to show that students and their families are safe at school, regardless of immigration status. To date, about 120 local school districts representing 2.7 million students have adopted Safe Haven resolutions.
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Tom Torlakson —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100