Congratulations to Assemblymember Tony Thurmond for winning the race for California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction position. As superintendent, Thurmond will oversee the Department of Education and is in charge of administering California’s education budget. This means that Thurmond will have tremendous influence for the future of the out-of-school time field.
Prior to the election, the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance (CA3) submitted a questionnaire to both candidates on their positions related to the field. You can find Tony Thurmond’s answers below and the original questionnaire here.
1. How will you ensure equity and access to afterschool and summer programs, especially in high need communities?
Right now, we prioritize state afterschool grants for schools in low-income communities, and we must continue to do this. However, there are still too many kids without a place to be after school in kindergarten through high school. We must invest more to make sure all kids who need them have these programs, which provide safe, supportive learning environments after school and in the summertime. Over the past two years I have introduced legislation that would tax private prison companies to create new revenue for preschool and afterschool programs. In addition to fighting for state and federal funds, as Superintendent I will also use the bully pulpit to make sure our superintendents, principals and school board members understand the importance of these programs and that they require local support and investment.
2. With significant budgetary challenges facing California schools, what actions will you take to ensure existing afterschool and summer programs get the resources they need to keep pace with the rising state minimum wage and cost of living?
At a minimum the legislature and next governor need to increase the daily rate for the After School Education and Safety Program to keep pace with the increased cost of living and minimum wage increases. I know how hard it is to attract, retain and train great staff, and our staff are the key to the relationship building that is the magic of these programs. My two daughters attend after school programs and I am grateful to the amazing staff who help them with their homework and give them enrichment opportunities that help them make new friends and learn new skills. As State Superintendent, I will be a strong champion for this effort. Having served in the legislature, I understand what it takes to get budget measures passed, and I have the relationships necessary to be a key advocate in partnership with the afterschool community.
3. Given the next State Superintendent will play an important role in shaping how Proposition 64 revenue is distributed, how will you ensure that proven youth substance use prevention strategies such as afterschool programs will be supported through this revenue?
Proposition 64 states that the California Department of Education work together with the Health Department to help decide how prevention and intervention funds from Proposition 64 will be spent. As State Superintendent I will proactively reach out the Secretary of Health and the Governor's team to ensure CDE has a strong voice in these decisions. I know that afterschool programs are an important strategy for keeping kids on the right track and we have a responsibility to make sure we invest Proposition 64 revenue in strategies that are evidence-based, and that are supported by parents and the public.
4. What will you do to better coordinate and leverage multiple school-age programs administered by the state?
One of the first things I will do as State Superintendent is spend time assessing how CDE is organized and whether we are leveraging our resources as effectively as possible to serve to field. Our state and federal funding for child and youth development should be coordinated to the extent possible, so that we are maximizing every dollar for professional development and capacity building of our workforce. In this assessment, I will make sure we consult with field experts in addition to CDE staff to get advice on what's working and what's not. Right now, early learning, child development and youth development are too siloed, and this is a function both of legislative and budget directives, as well as implementation decisions at CDE. If there are barriers in law or regulation to better maximizing public resources, I will be proactive in solving those challenges with my colleagues in the legislature and in Congress.