Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Speech to CSU Deans of Education
Sonoma, California
August 16, 1999

Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to speak here today.

The last time I met with this group was more than a year ago, when I was still new to the CSU. Since then, even with all of the extra demands that have been placed on your departments, you and your colleagues have made some very significant accomplishments.

I am proud to call myself part of the CSU -- and it is in large part because of the work you do in teacher preparation. So let me also thank you for that.

As some of you may know, a little over three months ago, I became a grandfather for the first time. Those of you who have shared this experience know that it's a wonderful, incredible time.

But it also causes you to think about the future in ways that you never have. You suddenly find yourself wondering all sorts of things about what kind of world your grandson will grow up in.

In my case, I wonder -- will he get a good education? Will his teachers be able to help him learn to read and write? Will they be able to teach him about computers and new technology? And will they even have time for him with so many other students out there?

I'm sure that plenty of other new parents and grandparents in California and around the country wonder about the same things. And I thank you for recognizing the need for public policy leadership on this issue.

I think the public wants to know where we are going -- and they want to have confidence in our future teachers. This retreat represents an awareness of the need for leadership and an important step in the right direction.

So -- what form should this leadership role take? I believe it boils down to continuing to do what we do well, and looking for new ways to do things even better.

The more we achieve in teacher preparation, the more our policymakers will look to us -- the experts -- for new solutions.

Let me begin by saying that leadership begins with a dedication to excellence.

On that note, I want to once again thank you for your hard work and the many outstanding accomplishments that have made CSU the nation's leader in teacher preparation.

  • You have expanded our capacity;

  • You have helped develop effective alternatives to traditional offerings;

  • Our credential production is up -- in fact, multiple subject credentials are up 28 percent.

Plus, while we benefit from many important grants, I want to recognize that three of our campuses just received valuable federal teacher-recruitment grants -- Monterey Bay, San Diego, and San Jose. These grants will serve an important purpose and they also give our campuses a good opportunity to show leadership in teacher recruitment and training.

As we move into the 21st century, we will be counting on all of you, our deans, to be leaders in teacher preparation. I'd now like to share some concrete thoughts on how you can show leadership in teacher education policy.

First, as you know, we're going to face all kinds of changes in the coming years. The best thing that all of you can do, as leaders, is to embrace those changes. Find the positive in what's happening, and find out the best way to handle whatever comes your way.

Your colleagues -- as well as the larger community -- will have a great deal of respect for the leadership you show with your constructive and positive approach.

Next, I would ask you to keep your focus on the students. One way to be a leader in public policy is to ensure that everyone who graduates from a CSU program is an example to the system.

I also hope that your programs keep a strong focus on teaching reading, which is a critical issue for schools and policymakers around the country.

For instance, I was shocked to learn that about 65 percent of third graders in the greater Los Angeles area failed to read at grade level last spring.

How would you feel if your child or grandchild could not read by age 9? I urge you to make a commitment to do something about this.

Perhaps each of our colleges of education can sign a pledge that all of our graduates will be able to teach reading to any student.

I also want to remind you that there will be a major nationwide and statewide push to see that middle school students, particularly from disadvantaged areas, get the pre-college preparation they need.

As you probably have heard, eight CSU campuses just received federal "GEAR UP" grants, which stand for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. These grants will focus on getting disadvantaged students on track for college, beginning in middle school.

We should make sure that we train teachers who know how to meet the needs of these students. We should also encourage our high-quality teachers to consider teaching in some of these areas with the greatest needs.

Next, I would urge you to continue and expand upon your existing projects. In particular, I hope that you will:

  • Continue your partnerships with K-12 schools and find new ways to work more closely with them. For example -- participate in faculty exchanges.

  • Continue to serve as an education resource for the K-12 schools and for your greater community.

    For example -- offer schools advice on instructional strategy.

  • Continue looking for ways to meet the training needs of our state's 30,000 teachers who hold emergency permits.

    For example -- promote CalStateTEACH for those teachers.

Finally, I would urge you to look for new opportunities to be proactive or innovative. As they say, the best way to have a louder voice is to do something.

One idea is to be proactive in responding to new education needs. For instance, our K-12 schools are trying to figure out how to implement peer review policies. Perhaps you can find ways to advise them or serve as a resource for them.

I would also urge you to become innovators. For instance, let's find ways to tie National Board certification to our masters' programs. Let's invite Betty Castor -- the new head of the National Board -- to California so she can work with us on this.

And last, I would urge you to draw upon your expertise to advise all of us at the system level. Your collective voices and experience carry a great deal of weight.

For example, we would be very interested in hearing from you, as a group, about the kind of the statewide changes you would like to see in the teacher preparation or licensing process.

To sum up, I know that you all have a lot on your plates in the coming years. And I also know that there are a lot of people looking to you to provide leadership and excellence in teacher education.

That's why I believe that the most effective way all of you can influence public policy is to be out in front with the best-quality programs, the most effective resources, and the most innovative approaches to new challenges.

After all, when the CSU offers the best programs and resources around, our policymakers will naturally think of the CSU as the policy experts on this issue.

Thank you again for organizing this meeting and for inviting me here to speak today. I will now be glad to hear your thoughts and questions.

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