State Superintendent delivers message of solidarity at CSEA Board Meeting

Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, shared a message of gratitude and solidarity for the 250,000 classified employees CSEA represents during this month’s Board of Directors Meeting on May 15.

“These are clearly unchartered times that we are dealing in and trying to support six million students and 1,000 school districts and all our incredible educators and classified that work with our students has been an unprecedented effort, and it has required help from everyone,” he said, sharing his thanks as the honorary guest during the virtual meeting. “I just have to say how much I appreciate you.”

Classified employees are working to make the livelihoods of students and their families possible, including by providing meals—breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner—at 5,000 locations across our state, he shared as one example.

Additionally, he addressed the question on many people’s mind these days: when is school going to open and what will that look like?

“That decision is going to be made by every individual school district,” Thurmond emphasized, but it won’t be made lightly. He has appointed a taskforce that is working on creating guidelines around personal protective equipment, cleaning products, sanitation and more to facilitate the utmost safest reopening possible for employees and the students they serve. That guidance is being formed by a cross-section of important stakeholders across the education board, including classified employees, teachers, administrators and educational leaders. They are also consulting with health experts and CalOSHA to make sure that workplaces and schools will be safe.

“So, we’re going to hold the line to make sure they’re safe for everyone,” he said.

Thurmond also fielded questions from Board Members, with wide-spanning topics, including whether there would be a mandatory safety checklist; memorandums of understanding for when schools do reopen; discussions about transportation services being eliminated; and limitations of distance learning versus working with students in a classroom.

Association President Ben Valdepeña informed members that it took just one ask to get Thurmond to log on to this month’s meeting, and the same was true for Governor Gavin Newsom last month.

“That just shows you the respect that CSEA has and the respect that they have for each and every one of us,” he said.

Thurmond echoed those sentiments, sharing how many of CSEA’s mantras ring true for him as well.

“If I can just borrow some of your expressions, ‘We are stronger together’ and ‘I’m In,’ and we’re going to do this together on behalf of our six million students you help serve,” he said.