California Department of Education

Last updated
California Department of Education
Seal of the California Department of Education.jpg
Agency overview
Formed1921 [1]
Jurisdiction Government of California
Headquarters1430 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 [2]
38°34′25″N121°29′21″W / 38.57361°N 121.48917°W / 38.57361; -121.48917 Coordinates: 38°34′25″N121°29′21″W / 38.57361°N 121.48917°W / 38.57361; -121.48917
Employees2740 (2018) [3]
Annual budget US$ 84.6 billion (2011) [4]
Agency executives

The California Department of Education is an agency within the Government of California that oversees public education.


The department oversees funding and testing, and holds local educational agencies accountable for student achievement. Its stated mission is to provide leadership, assistance, oversight, and resources (via teaching and teaching material) so that every Californian has access to a good education.

The State Board of Education is the governing and policy-making body, and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction is the nonpartisan (originally partisan) elected executive officer. The Superintendent serves as the state's chief spokesperson for public schools, provides education policy and direction to local school districts, and sits as an ex officio member of governing boards of the state's higher education system that are otherwise independent of the department.


In 1920, the California State Legislature's Special Legislative Committee on Education conducted a comprehensive investigation of California's educational system. The Committee's final report, drafted by Ellwood Patterson Cubberley, explained that the system's chaotic ad hoc development had resulted in the division of jurisdiction over education at the state level between 23 separate boards and commissions, with a total of about 160 members. The report recommended the consolidation and centralization of all these entities under the jurisdiction of a single California Department of Education, and also to clarify the exact relationship between the existing State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Therefore, on May 31, 1921, the legislature enacted a bill creating such a department, to be headed by a Director of Education, and which also concurrently made the State Superintendent of Public Instruction the ex officio director of the new department.

Among the various entities thus integrated were the State Normal Schools, which lost their boards of trustees, were made subordinate to the department's deputy director for the Division of Normal and Special Schools, and were renamed State Teachers Colleges. This created a rather bizarre administrative situation from 1921 to 1960. On the one hand, the department's actual supervision of the presidents of the State Teachers Colleges was rather minimal, which translated into substantial autonomy when it came to day-to-day operations. [5] On the other hand, the State Teachers Colleges were treated under state law as ordinary state agencies, which meant their budgets were subject to the same stifling bureaucratic financial controls as all other state agencies (except the University of California). [5] At least one president would depart his state college because of his express frustration over that issue (J. Paul Leonard, president of San Francisco State, in 1957). [5] The State Teachers Colleges were renamed State Colleges in 1935, but retained the same legal status. They finally regained full administrative autonomy after the recommendations of the California Master Plan for Higher Education were signed into law as the Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960, which created the State College System of California (now the California State University) and authorized the appointment of a board of trustees and systemwide chancellor who would be independent of the department.

In 1967, the state's junior colleges (which had largely developed as extensions of existing high school districts at the local level) were renamed community colleges and organized into a new system called the California Community Colleges, and that system was then authorized to have its own board of governors and systemwide chancellor who would also be independent of the department.

Since 1967, the department has been focused on regulating and supporting local school districts which directly provide the bulk of K-12 primary and secondary education throughout the state, as well as operating the state's three special schools and three diagnostic centers in support of special education. [6]

Ethnic studies

In March of 2021, after four years of development, the State Board of Education unanimously passed a new ethnic studies curriculum. [7] A bill that would have made ethnic studies a high school requirement had been vetoed by California's Governor the previous fall. [8]

2021 Mathematics Framework

In response to academic inequity, the department is recommending elimination of accelerated math classes. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] Instead of using de-tracking as an opportunity to teach all students more intensive math, the Department of Education is proposing to slow down mathematics for everyone. The Framework advises Algebra I be delayed for all students until 9th grade, and that all students take identical math classes until 10th grade. [14]

See also

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  1. Bureau of Publications, State Department of Education (November 1968). A History of the California State Department of Education 1900-1967 (PDF) (Report). Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  2. Home. California Department of Education.
  3. Government Compensation in California. California State Controller.
  4. 2019-2020 State Budget: 6100 Department of Education. California Department of Finance.
  5. 1 2 3 Gerth, Donald R. (2010). The People's University: A History of the California State University. Berkeley: Berkeley Public Policy Press. p. xxi. ISBN   9780877724353.
  6. VerBruggen, Robert (5 May 2021). "'We Reject Ideas of Natural Gifts and Talents'". National Review. National Review. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  7. Hoeven, Emily. "A day of historic votes". Cal Matters. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  8. Agrawal, Nina (2 Oct 2020). "What happens now that Gov. Newsom vetoed high school ethnic studies requirement?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  9. Lee, Michael (5 May 2021). "California seeks end of advanced math courses in name of social justice". Washington Examiner. Clarity Media Group. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  10. Soave, Robby (5 May 2021). "In the Name of Equity, California Will Discourage Students Who Are Gifted at Math". Reason Foundation. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  11. "2021 Revision of the Mathematics Framework". California Department of Education. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  12. Dorman, Sam (14 April 2021). "ifornia promotes 'dismantling racism in mathematics' guidance in draft for statewide framework". Fox News. FOX News Network, LLC. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  13. Berry, Dr. Susan. "California Weighs 'Equitable Math': Goal of Obtaining Correct Answer Is Racist". The Jewish Voice. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  14. Meckler, Laura (6 June 2021). "Can honors and regular students learn math together?". Wahsington Post. Retrieved 10 June 2021.