Chancellor's Recent Speeches

California School Boards Association
Delegate Assembly Luncheon - 12/8/99

Good afternoon.

Thank you very much for inviting me here today.

We at the CSU are looking forward to a new era of cooperation and partnership with the K-12 schools. So I am very pleased to be able to share some time with you today to talk about ideas and plans for the future.

Almost exactly one year ago, as some of you may remember, our country lost a great educator -- John Stanford, Seattle's superintendent of schools. John was a retired general who made a successful transition into education. He is perhaps best remembered for his motto, "Our victory is in the classroom."

He was also a person who stood for excellence in education and innovation in leadership. That's why I want to begin by sharing a short story about him:

One day, the superintendent joined a training seminar for school administrators. The instructor had created an exercise to demonstrate a point about student achievement. She had set a target on the floor, with lines marked from one foot to 25 feet away.

Each person picked a line to stand on and predicted what their success rate would be at tossing four rings onto the target. John Stanford went to the farthest point, predicted he would hit with two rings, and missed each time - by a lot.

The instructor told Stanford that he illustrated her main point, which was, if we allow students to set goals that are too easy, they get bored. If we let them set goals that are too high, they may give up. She said the target should be in the middle.

But John Stanford didn't like the message. He said he had picked the longest distance because he believed he could make it. He said that he was feeling frustrated NOT because the goal was impossible, but because he needed more practice.

So during a break, he practiced, again and again -- as the other administrators watched and chuckled. He coached himself as he practiced, talking about what he needed to do differently, how to throw the ring or aim it or how high to toss it. The last time was a charm. He hit two of the four as he had predicted he could.

Stanford told the instructor: If kids believe they can do something, they should go for it. They should try. They should practice and set goals as high as they believe they can reach. They will never experience the exhilaration that results from reaching the highest peak if they don't first believe they can.

John Stanford was a man who took very personally a message that our entire educational system should believe: Excellence is within reach. It's about always striving to do your best, whether it's tossing rings or acing a test. And it's something that I believe all of our students -- as well as our teachers and administrators -- can achieve.

I want to talk about three areas in which the CSU is working to achieve the highest possible level of quality:

  • Teacher preparation
  • Remedial education
  • K-12 cooperation.

Teacher Preparation

As you know, our state will need between 250,000 and 300,000 new teachers in the next 10 years. At the CSU, where we train over 60 percent of California's teachers, we take this challenge seriously.

We aim to produce more and better teachers.

As for more teachers, we are working to recruit new teachers, offer classes at more flexible times, and use distance technology to reach more teaching candidates.

We also have an intensive recruitment effort. Through our CalTeach center, we are running 30-second advertisements on cable television -- in Spanish and in English -- encouraging people to teach. One set of ads is geared toward young people, and one set targets older adults who want to change careers. Those potential teachers can call then a toll-free number or visit CalTeach's web site ( for more information.

Right now, we are on track to meet our goal of credentialing 25 percent more teachers by the year 2000.

But we are focusing on quality even more so than quantity.

We are revamping and re-engineering our programs to further integrate pedagogy into the curriculum and to give prospective teachers earlier classroom experience.

Plus, we are looking for ways that new technologies can enhance our ability to train teachers. A good example is CalStateTEACH, our new program for elementary teachers with emergency permits. It allows them to earn their credentials through a technology-based, mentor-assisted program. Since the program is site-based, it allows these teaching candidates to study while they continue working in the classroom.

I also want you to know that on Monday we reached an important milestone: 52 California college and university presidents gathered at Stanford University and made a joint declaration to make teacher preparation a priority. This gathering was unprecedented in California. It represents an important step forward on this issue.

In the resolution that we issued, we said that as leaders of California colleges and universities, we accept our critical responsibility to develop, improve and expand our teacher preparation efforts. We want to make sure that those efforts:

  • Are a priority for the entire university;
  • Use high-quality staff, curricula, and clinical preparation;
  • Strategically address the needs of California's schools;
  • Help eliminate the need for emergency permits.

We also resolved to use our influence to support local, state and federal policies that provide more competitive teacher salaries and productive working conditions.

I would be glad to hear your feedback on how we are doing or what more we can do in this area.

One final note on this topic -- I would also like to work with your schools to encourage more California teachers to pursue National Board Certification. California teachers who meet this standard get an automatic $10,000 bonus, plus the opportunity for other pay increases. Yet other states like Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio are out ahead of us in Board certification. We need to encourage and help more teachers to go through this valuable process.

Remedial Education

Students' need for remedial education once they reach college is a serious concern at the CSU. In fact, in Fall 1998, 54 percent of entering students needed remedial help in math and 47 percent needed remedial help in English.

We know that we can only eliminate the need for remedial education when we work in close partnership with K-12 and community college educators. So we have developed a multi-pronged approach to this problem. Our strategies include:

Faculty-to-faculty partnerships: We have $9 million in our budget this year to work closely with K-12 faculty. We will:

  • Send CSU faculty members to work with teachers at partner high schools. We will be working with the 223 California high schools that send us the most students needing remediation;
  • Offer trained CSU student tutors to work with high school students;
  • Make sure that high school standards are in line with CSU standards;
  • Help high school teachers administer and interpret diagnostic testing.

We're also working to get the message out on college preparation by:

Distributing a college-preparation poster -- We will distribute this poster to high schools and middle schools all around the state to help students understand what steps they must take to prepare for college. We will distribute 55,000 in English and 30,000 in Spanish. We are also working on a poster for community colleges.

Emphasizing reading, writing, math -- We want to make sure that schools teach reading and writing all the way through 12th grade. Every day, students should read and write something. We are also urging schools to make sure that 12th grade means something -- that students are taking challenging classes in their last year, not just waiting around to graduate. It's especially important for students to take math in the 12th grade, because otherwise they forget what they need to know by the time they get to college.

Setting firm remedial standards -- You may have heard about our new policy this year: Students must finish remedial education within the first full year of enrollment or face disenrollment. Our students and our faculty responded to this challenge well:

  • More than 79 percent of students became proficient in the first year.
  • 7 percent were granted case-by-case exceptions; another 7 percent left CSU for other reasons. Only 7 percent were asked to study at community colleges.

In other words, we set the bar high and they rose to meet the challenge -- just like John Stanford and his ring toss.

Partnerships with K-12

This is a theme I have repeated all year. Working with K-12 schools is a top priority of the CSU -- from teacher training to college preparation. As you know, when we help the K-12 schools, we improve ourselves. We can't get better if you don't get better. That's because more than 90 percent of our students come from California's public schools.

We will be doing all of the activities I have already mentioned and more.

I'd like to look more closely at joint appointments of teachers and faculty at our universities and at K-12 schools.

We also believe that California deserves a seamless educational system. That's why we support the development of a statewide Master Plan for K-16 education.

We will continue to look for new opportunities to join into partnerships with and help our state's K-12 schools, community colleges, and other universities. We will also look for more opportunities to get businesses and other organizations more involved in education.

I will be glad to hear your suggestions on new ways that we can help you and your districts.


I promise you that the CSU will continue to reach for the highest possible quality in all of its programs. In the process, we will look for ways to work with and assist you, our colleagues in the K-12 schools.

Like John Stanford, I believe that excellence is within reach for our educational system, and for all of our students. And I hope you share with me his belief that our victory will be in the classroom.

Once again, I appreciate your taking the time to hear from me. I will be glad to take any of your questions.

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