California Named as Winner of Prestigious National Award for Education Innovation

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that California has been named as winner of the 2022 Frank Newman Award for State Innovation, the nation’s preeminent award for education innovation. The annual award—now in its 24th year and presented by the Education Commission of the States (ECS)—recognizes a state or U.S. territory that is enacting education reforms or implementing programs to improve student outcomes on a large scale.

“This is an incredible honor, and while the work continues, we’re proud of this national recognition that shows how California is improving educational outcomes for its students, closing equity gaps, and transforming education for students from prekindergarten to adulthood,” said Thurmond. “State and local leaders, educators, and school staff put in tremendous effort every day to ensure our students and families heal from the effects of the pandemic, recover, and thrive.”

According to the Commission, California received this award for “its coordinated approach to educating all students from preschool to postsecondary, with explicit attention toward whole-child supports and services, as well as its historic financial investments to ensure educational equity.” A nomination letter read, “We believe there is no other state doing as much to advance educational equity for its neediest students as California is doing today.”

Other notable highlights:

  • “The state’s Local Control Funding Formula, recognized as one of the nation’s most equitable formulas, distributes funding to the schools with the greatest needs and gives more flexibility to districts to respond to local challenges and opportunities.
  • “In the last two years, the state has approved an ongoing increase to the school funding formula to add more teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, and other student support providers on campuses.
  • “The budget also includes a large investment to scale summer, before-, and after-school programming and to convert thousands of schools into full-service community schools with wraparound supports.
  • “Additionally, beginning this school year, all public school students began to receive two free meals per day, regardless of family income status.”

The Commission will present California leaders with the Newman Award at the 2022 National Forum on Education Policy, taking place July 13–15 in Washington, DC. The award is one of three that the Education Commission of the States gives each year to celebrate outstanding commitment to public education. In 2005, the award was renamed in honor of the late Frank Newman, who served as president of the Commission for 14 years.

California educates nearly one-eighth of all public school students in the nation. Since taking office, State Superintendent Thurmond has championed and created many historic initiatives on behalf of California’s students. Focused on equity and transformative change, these include mental health programs, community schools, literacy, expanded learning programs, professional development, anti-racism training, and universal schools and universal meals programs.

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