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State of California June 3, 2014 Election
Smart Voter

Increasing Local Control: Marshall's Plan

By Marshall Tuck

Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This information is provided by the candidate
Principals, teachers, and other school site personnel know their students best. They--and not the bureaucrats in Sacramento--should be empowered to make the day-to-day decisions that impact student learning.
Decision-making for public schools today is centralized in California's massive Education Code, a 2,300-page rulebook filled with complex and confusing regulations that have accumulated over decades. The Ed Code governs too many details related to running schools, and it is stringently enforced by CA's Department of Education. From budget to curriculum, from evaluation to hiring and firing, this rigid framework makes it nearly impossible for educators in local schools to do their jobs.

One principal I worked with at the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools estimated that she spent over a third of her time each year going through arduous steps to manage her team, filling out compliance documents and dealing with bureaucratic audits, which were all a direct result of Ed Code rules. If she were empowered to make more decisions as the leader of her school, those hours could be redirected toward developing teachers and building relationships with students and parents. As Superintendent of Public Instruction, I'll work to free our local educators from the constraints of overregulation, first by helping to eliminate unnecessary rules, and second by refocusing the Department of Education's energies on flexibility rather than compliance.

Principals, teachers, and other school site personnel know their students best. They--and not the bureaucrats in Sacramento--should be empowered to make the day-to-day decisions that impact student learning. Throughout my career running two different school systems, I've pushed as many decisions as possible to those that are closest to students. As State Superintendent, I'll work every day to do the same, unleashing the creativity and innovation locally that will dramatically improve our schools.

Focus on Flexibility, Not Compliance

As State Superintendent, I'll work to streamline the state bureaucracy and empower local communities. Rather than demanding that schools and school districts be in compliance with arcane and outdated regulations, we'll work closely with local superintendents to understand how the Department can support their needs on the ground. We'll work with school districts to secure Ed Code waivers that give them the flexibility over their budget, curriculum and personnel they need to dramatically accelerate student learning. The staff at the Department of Education will be focused on serving and supporting local school districts and schools rather than on auditing and enforcing compliance and regulations.

Modernize the Ed Code

To implement more fundamental change across California, I'll work with the state Legislature to modernize the Ed Code, and give local schools and districts greater flexibility. Our state's charter schools offer one model. They enjoy far more flexibility and local control than traditional public schools, allowing some high-quality charter schools to offer more robust course offerings, longer school days and years, and more targeted interventions and enrichment through creative use of funds. All public schools in California should have this kind of flexibility. A leaner Ed Code will allow our educators to be more entrepreneurial and creative, producing the dramatic changes we need in our schools.

Streamline Unnecessary Plans and Audits

Schools are asked to fill out way too many plans by the federal and state governments. Administrators and teachers are often forced to invest time in developing plans that can be highly redundant. Additionally, many audits are required to ensure that schools and school districts are implementing these plans. These plans and audits take significant time away from educators that should be used to improve teaching and learning. As State Superintendent, I will work with Superintendents and other practitioners from throughout the state to identify all of the required plans and audits and eliminate the ones that are redundant and unnecessary. This will minimize the time spent on bureaucracy both at the state and local levels and maximize the time spent on educating children.

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