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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-75
October 1, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces Co-Chairs for Statewide Literacy Task Force

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced co-chairs for the new statewide literacy task force he launched to help all California students reach the goal of literacy by third grade, by the year 2026. The effort will also include a biliteracy milestone for dual-language learners. The task force co-chairs bring leadership and expertise in the area of improving literacy and are listed below.

“Now is the time in California public education when we have all the resources and conditions in place to make good on a promise of reaching literacy by third grade, a key benchmark in measuring and predicting student success,” Thurmond said. “We also know that when students don’t learn to read by third grade, they are at greater risk to drop out of school, and they are at greater risk to end up in the criminal justice system—and we have to give them the resources to put them on a path for lifelong learning as opposed to a path that increases the likelihood that they will drop out of school or end up in the criminal justice system.”

The task force will pull together experts and community partners who will design a strategy for reaching this goal, including making recommendations that will be introduced in the 2022 Legislative Session to expand resources for improving reading proficiency of California students. Task force member Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) intends to be the primary author of legislation expected to include a focus on professional development resources for teaching reading. Other strategies will include school readiness, family engagement, and addressing chronic absenteeism.

Task Force Co-Chairs:

  • Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, California State Board of Education President; Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University; and founding president of the Learning Policy Institute, created to provide high-quality research for policies that enable equitable and empowering education for each and every child
  • Dr. Barbara Nemko, Superintendent, Napa County Office of Education
  • E. Toby Boyd, President, California Teachers Association, and Kindergarten Teacher
  • Dr. Francisco Escobedo, Executive Director, National Center for Urban School Transformation
  • Dr. Barbara Flores, President, California Association for Bilingual Education
  • Camille Maben, Executive Director, First 5 California
  • Dianna MacDonald, Past President, California State PTA

State Superintendent Thurmond has also announced that Dr. Frances Gipson will serve as a staff coordinator for the task force and literacy effort. Dr. Gipson is the former Chief Academic Officer at Los Angeles Unified School District, where she established a literacy program called Primary Promise. Dr. Gipson is a professor and the Director of the Urban Leadership Program in the School of Education Studies at Claremont Graduate University.

Additional details about the task force will be shared as details are available. In conjunction with this effort, State Superintendent Thurmond will work closely with First 5 California and other partners to secure donations with the goal of providing one million books for students and their families. Anyone wishing to support this statewide book drive or the effort to ensure that students learn to read by third grade may email

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

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 30, 2023
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