California Department of Education

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California Department of Education
Seal of the California Department of Education.jpg
Agency overview
Annual budget US$ 53.2 billion (2011)
Agency executive

The California Department of Education is an agency within the Government of California that oversees public education. Its headquarters are located in the state's capital city of Sacramento.[1]

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. Superintendents serve four-year terms. The current Superintendent of Public Instruction is Tom Torlakson. The Superintendent serves as the state's chief spokesperson for public schools, and provides education policy and direction to local school districts. He also serves as an ex officio member of governing boards of the state's higher education system.


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. These institutions later regained their 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 California State Colleges (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) were renamed community colleges and organized into the California Community College System, and that system was in turn authorized to have its own Board of Governors and systemwide Chancellor who would also be independent of the Department.

Since then, 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.

See also[edit]

Colleges and Universities[edit]


  1. ^ "Home." California Department of Education. Retrieved on December 21, 2011. "California Department of Education 1430 N Street Sacramento, CA 95814"

External links[edit]