March 3, 2023
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond Provides Schools with Tools to Reduce Disproportionate Discipline and Create Better Outcomes for the Most Impacted Students
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted the first in a series of a webinars facilitated by Director of the California Department of Education (CDE) Student Achievement and Support Division William McGee on Thursday, March 2, 2023. The webinar featured opening remarks by State Board of Education President Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond and focused on the need to keep all children in school. Superintendent of the San Diego County Office of Education Dr. Paul Gothold, Kingmakers of Oakland CEO Chris Chatmon, Dr. Ingrid Roberson of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, and Compton Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Darin Brawley participated in the webinar to share best practices for decreasing disproportionate discipline practices.
"It is a fact that Black students were suspended approximately three times more often than white students and nearly 10 times the rate of Asian students from 2018 to 2019. Students with disabilities were suspended at more than twice the rate of their non-disabled peers, according to our data," Thurmond said.
The good news: Thurmond has long championed programs to help reduce disproportionate discipline and is encouraged by the many education leaders who are showing interest in how to help reduce suspensions and expulsions and to create better outcomes for African American and Native American students and students with disabilities who have been most impacted by disproportionate discipline.
“With all the resources we have helped our schools to secure, such as universal preschool and reading coaches for students with the greatest need, we truly have the opportunity to move past just pushing kids out of the classroom and potentially toward the criminal justice system,” Thurmond said. “We truly can help our systems educate—not incarcerate—our kids and provide all students with great educational experiences. We know that students will learn better when they are not pushed out of class or pushed out of school.”
In 2019, California banned suspensions in elementary and middle schools for willful defiance, which is defined as disrupting school activities or defying school authorities. While serving in the California State Assembly, Thurmond authored Assembly Bill 1014, the Learning Communities for School Success Program, which resulted in Proposition 47 grants being moved to reduce suspensions and chronic absenteeism. The next round of grants are planned to be distributed in November 2023. Thus far, the CDE has provided nearly $100 million to be used by schools for reducing chronic absenteeism and to adopt restorative justice programs (in which students learn to talk through their conflicts to gain empathy for their classmates).
In addition, Superintendent Thurmond is focused on teacher recruitment, classified recruitment, and diversifying the educator workforce with grants. During the webinar, Thurmond reminded attendees that the Golden State Teacher Grant offers $20,000 to anyone who wants to become a teacher or a mental health clinician. Thurmond established a one-stop teacher recruitment strategy that makes it easier for candidates to get information about becoming a teacher. This includes the establishment of a Public Service Announcement to recruit candidates, a career fair series that is expected to reach at least 10,000 people, and a hotline to get help in becoming a teacher. Anyone looking to become a teacher in California can learn more by contacting TeachinCA@cde.ca.gov.
Superintendent Thurmond also plans to provide mini grants that schools can use to pilot Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) academies for chronically absent youth and to pilot an Afrocentric, evidence-based literacy intervention program that can be used to support the needs of students of all backgrounds. He is also setting up a program where Kingmakers of Oakland will provide technical assistance to schools that want to create better outcomes for the group most impacted by disproportionate suspensions, Black male students.
Any educational agency that wants to learn more about ways to reduce disproportionate discipline or wishes to share their best practices can email SchoolDiscipline@cde.ca.gov.Superintendent Thurmond closed the webinar session by explaining that many of his initiatives are interlaced to support students and end disproportionality, including investments in transitional kindergarten, universal meals, universal preschool, and grants for reading coaches and specialists. Together, these programs help to keep students in school, reduce disproportionate discipline, and ensure that our students have the opportunities to thrive.
A full recording of this webinar is available on the CDE Facebook page .
# # # #
Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100