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News Update

Four veteran state school board members retire

Four veterans on the 11-member State Board of Education who guided major shifts in the state’s school funding, accountability, academic standards and testing over the past decade retired after their last school board meeting Wednesday.

In an expected Zoom call, former Gov. Jerry Brown, who appointed them to multiple terms, praised Sue Burr, Patricia Rucker, Ilene Straus and Ting Sun for “contributions to a complex system” of education, made possible by their knowledge and experience. “I have a bias toward experience. I thought it was bunk,” he said, but recognizes now “there is no substitute for experience than the four people you are honoring.”

Michael Kirst, president of the board during Brown’s last two terms, and Linda Darling-Hammond, the current president appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, said they valued the expertise and perspectives that each brought to the board.

Newsom has not yet named their successors. He did reappoint Cynthia Glover Woods, chief academic officer at the Riverside County Office of Education, who had been filling a vacant position. The board’s next meeting will be in March.

Burr, the most experienced in the politics and policy of education, had served as the board’s executive director, an education adviser to Brown, and the executive director of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association before her board appointment. Rucker, a longtime math and English teacher, served as a consultant for the California Teachers Association in instruction and continued as a lobbyist for CTA while on the board.

Straus, a lecturer for the Educational Leadership Program at UCLA, served as a principal and administrator in Santa Monica-Malibu Unified, and then as an assistant superintendent at Beverly Hills Unified. She was California’s secondary school principal of the year. Sun, co-founder and executive director of the Sacramento-based Natomas Charter School, has worked for two decades as a teacher, administrator and charter school operator. She co-chaired the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the state’s Public Schools Accountability Act Advisory Committee.

During the past decade, the board has overseen the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, the creation of multiple measures of school improvement in the California School Dashboard and the revision of academic standards and frameworks in science and social studies.