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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #18-28
April 10, 2018
Contact: Scott Roark
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Torlakson Supports Legislation to Strengthen School Climates and Provide Safe Learning Environments

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced his support today for legislation aimed at helping school districts maintain and improve safe and inclusive learning environments for students and increase engagement with parents and their respective communities.

Torlakson appeared at a news conference on Tuesday with Californians for Justice, a student advocacy group that is also supporting the bill. “Gathering school climate information each year is an important starting point in improving our children’s learning environments. Safe and supportive schools are essential for all students as they navigate their way to college and 21st century careers,” Torlakson said. “In light of recent events at schools across our country, supporting districts in hearing their students’ voices and improving engagement with parents and communities is more vital than ever.”

AB 2820 was introduced by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). The bill sets up a “Community Engagement and School Climate for Continuous Improvement Block Grant.” This fund would provide school districts, at no cost, the option of using state-vetted school climate surveys, along with support and technical assistance on the administration of the surveys and utilization of results to improve school conditions and climate. If districts choose to use the surveys, they would be conducted annually with students, parents, teachers, and school staff.

The proposed legislation comes after recommendations by the School Conditions and Climate Work Group, a task force convened by Torlakson and the California Department of Education, which included educators, parents and advocates. One member who played a key role was Taryn Ishida, Executive Director of Californians for Justice.

"Too often we see students, especially low-income students of color, struggling to feel like they belong, are cared for, and supported in reaching their full potential,” Ishida said. “Research shows we can address these challengesand improve student achievement by investing in school climate surveys and community engagement. These are crucial steps to creating a positive and equitable learning experience for all students."

More information may be found on the CDE School Conditions and Climate Work Group Recommendations Framework (PDF).

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 10, 2018
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