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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-91
November 15, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Thurmond Leads Task Force and Programs to Support Black Student Achievement

SACRAMENTO—Calling out the impacts that systemic and institutional racism have had on Black students, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond formally launched a statewide task force on Improving Black Student Achievement. Last week, the task force held its first meeting led by Thurmond and several co-chairs named to guide the work of the task force.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work we’re undertaking with this group,” said Superintendent Thurmond. “Many of us have been working on closing opportunity gaps for years, yet many of our Black students in California are still facing environmental factors that affect their learning before they even get into the classroom. Now is the time to focus and make real change.”

The task force identified five issue areas which will be the basis for working groups: The school-to-prison pipeline (including suspension, chronic absenteeism, and graduation), teacher diversity, academic achievement (including reading and math assessments), mental health, and housing insecurity (including homelessness and foster youth). The task force includes 30 members—including notable leaders from the fields of education, higher education, research, criminal justice reform, and the foundation and nonprofit sectors—as well as the following five co-chairs, who bring leadership and expertise in the area of improving Black student achievement:

  • Dr. Pedro Noguera, Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean of the USC Rossier School of Education
  • Dr. Tyrone Howard, Pritzker Family Endowed Chair in the School of Education at UCLA, Director of the UCLA Center for Transformation of Schools, and the Director of the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families
  • Dr. Kelly Lytle Hernandez, Professor of History, African American Studies, and Urban Planning; the Thomas E. Lifka Endowed Chair; and Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA
  • Dr. Joseph Johnson, Founding Executive Director of the National Center for Urban School Transformation at the San Diego State University Research Foundation
  • Desiree Carver-Thomas, Researcher and Policy Analyst, Learning Policy Institute
  • L.K. Monroe, Superintendent of Alameda County Schools
  • Dr. Shawn Ginwright, Professor in the Africana Studies Department and Senior Research Associate for the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy at San Francisco State University

The task force will meet monthly and form working groups that make recommendations that can be incorporated in the January 2022 legislative cycle. Organizations interested in working on this effort with State Superintendent Thurmond and the CDE on this priority effort should contact Blake Johnson, Legislative Policy Representative, at

Thurmond is also helping to lead a number of other efforts to improve conditions and outcomes for Black students, including his work to diversify the educator workforce. Thurmond has been promoting the idea of expanding the male educator pipeline through the use of $350 million in grants for teacher residency programs. The State Superintendent and his CDE team are also leading a $3 billion community schools strategy to provide schools with the wraparound supports and services to address root causes and counter trends that have caused Black students to be disproportionately affected in the school-to-prison pipeline. Additionally, Thurmond is also overseeing $1.5 billion in professional development grants to promote educator excellence and anti-racism efforts in schools.

“We have a moment before us now to transform education in California, to close learning gaps that have grown during the pandemic and to address the socioeconomic needs of Black students and all students,” announced Thurmond.

Superintendent Thurmond will be traveling up and down the state promoting programs like community schools, universal meals, and universal transitional kindergarten as game changers for helping Black students. Thurmond has also convened a task force focusing on helping all California students learn to read by third grade by the year 2026.

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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, April 4, 2023
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