What led you to become County Superintendent?  

During the interview process for county superintendent, I was asked why I was applying.  I responded that I was compelled to apply not because it was a career move or a promotion, but that it was personal. I explained that I first arrived in Yuba County as a young boy with my family at the local Greyhound Bus Depot homeless and in search of our father. I added that given the diverse challenges facing Yuba County, I felt I could acutely identify with the county’s homeless community, its linguistic and cultural diversity, and provide leadership both as an educator and community leader. Given my body of work as a university department chair and researcher, educational practitioner, author and film producer, I felt I could make a meaningful difference as county superintendent.

What inspired you to enter the field of education?  

I love working with people, especially our youth! I’ve always believed that if there is a heaven, then we see it everyday in the eyes of our children. Indeed, it is we - the adults - that need the children because they give us hope and heal us in beautiful ways.  They don’t speak in ‘code’ but are genuine and deeply intuitive.  When I graduated from high school I received an appointment to Annapolis but I was deeply drawn to the educational field as a vehicle for positive social change. Having grown up a farm worker knowing poverty, it was a no brainer for me.  Indeed, I am currently working on another book titled Don’t Get Good At Something You Don’t Like coming out next year.

Do you have a particular goal that drives you?

I have numerous goals. They all speak to distinct aspects or dimensions of who I am. First and foremost, appreciate and value the time we have on earth. I have gone through hospice with my family and witnessed violent crime in my research work and childhood experiences with violent gang members. Indeed, every breath we take is life. Live life to its fullest and make a difference other that just wearing a ‘suit’ and going to meetings. Second, don’t take ourselves too seriously and value humor!  Listen to others, especially the wisdom that comes from children.

What objectives do you hope to achieve? 

  • Increase teacher recruitment and retention;
  • Focus on preschool and family nutrition;
  • Create pipelines for para-educators to become credentialed teachers;
  • Facilitate sustained and meaningful dialogue between CDE and districts with regard to LCAP implementation efforts; and
  • Create viable opportunities for young people living in at-risk environments that involve gang violence, sex trafficking, and homelessness.

What are your interests? 

  • Delivering national motivational keynotes at conferences and schools
  • Wilderness survival and mountaineering
  • Boxing
  • Competitive ballroom dancing
  • Writing curriculum and authoring books
  • Producing/directing educational films that address social/equity issues

Who are the special people in your life? 

  • My family for keeping me focused and true to a set of values based on unconditional love, respect and faith in something bigger than us.
  • All children, especially our special needs children! 
  • The elders in my life for going ahead in the path of life and lifting me when I am challenged.


Peter Birdsall, CCSESA Executive Director
On February 23, we submitted our request to the California Legislature’s budget subcommittees to approve ongoing funding for county offices of education work to support, review and approve school district LCAPs.  A copy of the letter is available here.
We are encouraged that our request is supported by the statewide education organizations that comprise the Education Coalition. Those organizations are: ACSA, CASBO, CSBA, CCSESA, CFT, CSEA, CTA, SEIU and State PTA.  Their letter to the budget subcommittees contains the following statement on county office funding for support of the LCAP process.
"School Accountability

The budget proposal fails to include funding for county offices of education (COEs) to fulfill their role in the LCAP/school accountability system. Prior budgets included $20 million in one-time funding in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal years for this purpose. We recommend that this one-time funding be converted into ongoing funding in 2017-18."

Our success in obtaining ongoing funding for this work will depend significantly on the degree to which these and other organizations in the education community say it is important for the county work to be supported. 

Many county superintendents and their staffs have close relationships with leaders and active members in these other statewide organizations.  At this point in time, the best thing county superintendents can do to support our funding request is to thank leaders in these other organizations for their support and urge them to continue to make it a priority as the budget deliberations move forward.
February CCSESA Convenings

Science Community of Practice: February 9-10, 2017

Earlier this month, 130 county science specialists and partners from around the state met at the Science Community of Practice meeting to align their work in support of NGSS implementation statewide. As part of a larger effort to coordinate standards implementation statewide, CCSESA, CDE, and SBE have been working in concert for nearly two years on a coordinated approach for Math, Science, ELA/ELD, and History/Social Science. The Science Community of Practice has met twice, and participants are able to participate in NGSS professional learning, networking, and regional action planning with their peers. Among the various opportunities for regional group discussions, the February convening also had specific sessions on Supporting State, Administrators, and Districts with NGSS Implementation, and featured implementation resources for district structure and supports, teacher capacity building, communication, and admin capacity building. Participants left feeling rejuvenated to continue working on NGSS implementation in their areas, and one participant stated, “I now have a network of regional and statewide partners that will allow me to not recreate the wheel and provide a more robust offering of services…[T]he tools shown today are applicable to the work I do at the COE level.”  For more information, please contact Serette Kaminski, CCSESA Assistant Policy Director.

CISC Symposium: February 22-24, 2017

The 2017 CISC Symposium, which was held at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, truly kept to its theme of “Making it Personal” for the over 1,200 education leaders in attendance.  With powerful keynote speakers and engaging breakout sessions, the symposium helped to cultivate attendees’ individual and collective leadership capacities to imagine, design, and deliver meaningful personalized learning experiences that inspire others to share their stories, discover their potential, and realize their dreams.  This year’s symposium was led by Christine Olmstead, Associate Superintendent from the Orange County Department of Education, and the ever hard working CISC Symposium Planning Committee.  For more information, please contact Efrain Mercado, CCSESA Policy Director.

Chief Business Officials Conference: February 22-24, 2017

Last week, over 200 chief business officials (CBOs) from county offices of education across the state gathered in Sacramento for CCSESA’s annual CBO Conference.  The three-day convening covered important updates from numerous statewide agencies, including the California Department of Education, California State Board of Education, California Department of Finance, Legislative Analyst's Office, and more.  Participants were given the opportunity to dive deeper into several topics, such as Debt Financing, Government Financial Strategies, Charter School Oversight, Medi-Cal Administrative Activities, and LCAP Technical Assistance.  Next year’s CBO Conference will be taking place at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza in Sacramento from February 14-16, 2018.  For more information, please contact Sandra Morales, CCSESA Assistant Executive Director.
State Legislative Update

The Legislature has introduced over 2500 measures, of which 239 have been identified (using the CCSESA legislative priorities and principles) as bills of interest to the association.  It is important to note that the majority of the bills are spot bills, meaning the bills have been introduced as placeholders and are expected to be amended with more substance in the coming weeks.  The next key legislative deadline for bills with fiscal impact is April 28—Policy Committees cannot hear or report fiscal bills introduced in their house after that date.
Earlier this month the Assembly and Senate Education Committees held informational hearings in the areas of school accountability, facilities and teacher preparation.  These hearings were scheduled with the intent to prepare their members on upcoming issues for legislative consideration by providing an overview and update on the most recent actions taken by the state to address them.  Alameda County Superintendent, L. Karen Monroe, was invited to provide a local perspective on the school accountability system.  That hearing may be viewed here.  Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-70), Chair of the Education Committee stated that his intent in providing these informational hearings was to avoid duplication of efforts, as many members have come to him with bill ideas that are often in development or already in place.  The Assembly and Senate Education Committees will begin to convene regularly to examine the education bills that were introduced this session.  Committee hearings are scheduled to begin the second week of March.
In preparation for the upcoming policy hearings, the CCSESA legislative committee is expected to adopt positions on bills related to fiscal transparency, special education, teacher recruitment, early education, charter schools and student safety/rights issues at its March 22 meeting.   The committee will also review and discuss the State Superintendent of Public Instruction's bill package.  If you would like specific information about the bills, or would like more information about the work of the CCSESA Legislative Committee, please contact Sandra Morales, CCSESA Assistant Executive Director, or Holly Hermansen, Chair of CCSESA’s Legislative Committee. 
Upcoming Arts Convening in Costa Mesa

CREATE CA and the Orange County Department of Education are pleased to host the 3rd Annual Statewide Convening for Arts Education on March 14-15, 2017. This convening will focus on the ways to collaborate in order to create changes in practice that increase quality arts education for all students. This two-day convening will include the 8th Annual Creative Edge Lecture at the Segerstrom Concert Hall, additional keynote speakers and engaging professional development breakout sessions. Over 300 participants are expected to attend this year’s convening including teachers, administrators, arts organizations, parents, funders and business/industry leaders from throughout California.

Included in Registration: Ticket to Arts OC 2017 Creative Edge Lecture featuring Juan Felipe, Poet Laureate of the United States. Michael McAfee, President of Policy Link will be presenting a session entitled: At the Intersection of Arts and Equity.  Click here to register. A limited number of half-priced registrations are available. Apply before registering here.
April CCSESA Quarterly Meeting: CCSESA General Membership will be meeting in Riverside County on April 3-4, 2017. To register, click here. Please contact JaConya Merchant if you have any questions. 
2017 History-Social Science Framework RolloutJoin local teachers, administrators, and teacher educators for the first in a series of programs designed to introduce California’s History-Social Science Framework. To register, click here. Please contact JaConya Merchant if you have any questions. 
48th Annual JCCASAC ConferenceThe Juvenile Court, Community and Alternative School Administrators of California (JCCASAC) will be hosting their annual conference from May 10-12, 2017 at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe in Truckee. To register, click here
2017 CCSESA Arts Initiative Summer InstituteThe third annual Creativity at the Core Summer Institute will be held in Santa Clara county from July 26-28, 2017. To register, click here. Please contact Jessie Kroll-Yoas if you have any questions. 
Peter Birdsall, Executive Director
Sandra S. Morales, Assistant Executive Director
Sarah Anderberg, Arts Initiative Director
Efrain Mercado, Policy Director
Serette Kaminski, Assistant Policy Director
Amanda Dickey, Policy Consultant
Amanda Taggart, Communications Assistant
Alex DeCaprio, Assistant to the Executive Director
JaConya Merchant, Member Services Coordinator
Jessie Kroll-Yoas, Executive Assistant
Mary Gardner, Administrative Assistant


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