California State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla discusses the importance of teachers, administrators, and politicians working together to ensure a better education and future for students
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla was elected in November 2010 and represents California’s 11th Assembly District, which is primarily comprised of the northern portion of Contra Costa County. She previously served on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, representing the County’s 4th District of Concord, Clayton, Pleasant Hill and portions of Walnut Creek. She was elected to the Board in 2006, previously serving on the Concord City Council and as Mayor. Prior to serving as a public official, Bonilla worked as a high school English teacher in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.
Currently, she is the Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #2 on Education Finance where she is focused on renewing California’s commitment to high quality K-12 and higher education. Last year, Assemblywoman Bonilla carried legislation that will streamline the health care eligibility process, provide funding for local law enforcement, ensure everyone’s vote counts, and assist local school districts in reducing truancy. Additionally, Susan is the Chairwoman of the Select Committee on High Quality Early Childhood Education and the California Science, Engineering, Technology, Math (STEM) taskforce in addition to being a member of the Assembly Health, Transportation, Elections and Redistricting, Budget, and Budget Subcommittee #6 on Budget Process, Oversight and Program Evaluation committees. Her legislative priorities include improving our educational system, fostering economic development and job creation, improving access to health care, and rebuilding California’s transportation system.
As a member of Contra Costa County’s Board of Supervisors, Assemblywoman Bonilla created the Foster Youth Employment Program, providing youth in the county foster system job opportunities within the county structure. She also developed partnerships to open the Michael Chavez Center for Economic Opportunity to provide job training directly to residents within the Monument Corridor of Concord. Additionally, she advocated for government partnerships with non-profit agencies and local businesses, creating a new and innovative public/private partnership that provides grants to non-profits to deliver services to our community resulting in taxpayer savings and tangible benefits to the local economy. As a former teacher, she is dedicated to improving California’s public education system. While on the Concord City Council, she initiated the Literacy Coalition, a network of literacy providers dedicated to raising the awareness of literacy needs and mobilizing volunteers to meet those needs.
Bonilla earned her B.A. in English from Azusa Pacific University in 1982 and her teaching credential from CSU Los Angeles in 1987. Assemblywoman Bonilla and her husband, John, reside in Concord. They have four daughters and two grandchildren.
California State University, San Bernardino
Herbert Brunkhorst is Professor of Science Education and Biology at California State University, San Bernardino, and is currently Chair of the Department of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education in the College of Education. He carries a joint appointment in the Department of Biology in the College of Natural Sciences. Dr. Brunkhorst earned a Ph.D. with majors in science education and plant physiology at The University of Iowa. He has been a science educator for the past 35 years; 17 years at the precollege level and the past 18 years at the college level. Dr. Brunkhorst was co- principle investigator of the NSF funded California State University Science Teaching Development Project from 1993-1995, a university system-wide collaboration to improve science teacher preparation. From 1995-1997, he served as a senior faculty researcher on a U.S. Department of Education and Office of Educational Research and Improvement project called the Salish Consortium, a multidimensional collaborative research effort for improving science and mathematics teacher education. In 1998, Dr. Brunkhorst was selected as a California State University Chancellor's Teacher Preparation Scholar as a member of a state-wide teacher preparation curriculum development team to produce a net-based elementary teacher preparation program. For the past eleven years, Dr. Brunkhorst has served as co-director of the Inland Area Science Project, a regional collaborative professional development program in science for K-12 teachers under the sponsorship of the California Subject Matter Projects. Dr. Brunkhorst is the current President of the Association for the Education of Teachers of Science. He has co-chaired the National Research Council's Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation and was recently elected as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Susan Hackwood is currently Executive Director of the California Council on Science and Technology, and Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. CCST is a not-for-profit corporation comprised of 150 science and technology leaders sponsored by the key academic and federal research institutions in the California, which advises the state on all aspects of science and technology including stem cell research, intellectual property, climate change, energy, information technology, biotechnology and education.
Dr. Hackwood received a Ph.D. in Solid State Ionics in 1979 from DeMontfort University, UK, at age 23. Before joining academia, she was Department Head of Device Robotics Technology Research at AT&T Bell Labs, where amongst other things, she invented and named the electrowetting effect, now used in many micro devices and continuing to be researched and utilized in an increasing number of applications. In 1984 she joined the University of California, Santa Barbara as Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and was founder and Director of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Robotic Systems in Microelectronics (CRSM).
In 1990, Dr. Hackwood became the founding Dean of the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside, and the first woman dean of a major research university in the U.S.
Chris Roe: First of all, I would like to welcome up to the stage two reallyimportant people and close colleagues of mine, Herb Brunkhorst and SusanHackwood. Susan is the executive director of the California Council on Scienceand Technology, and a true leader in STEM for our state. And also I am verypleased to say that she is one of our board members for CSLNet, which I am verypleased. And Herb Brunkhorst from CSU San Bernardino who is, I am going to getthis wrong, department chair.Herb Brunkhorst: Well, no longer.Chris Roe: No longer?Herb Brunkhorst: Transitioning.Chris Roe: Transitioning, that is good news. Anyway, Susan and Herb are alsoco-chairs of the STEM task force that you have heard quite a bit about thismorning. So they are going to give a couple of brief comments and introduce ourfirst luncheon speaker.Susan Hackwood: Thank you Chris. And I am sorry, we are responding slowly. Ithink weve got many Susans in this room, you know. Unimaginative parents, whatcan I say, I am sorry. I am delighted to be here today. Thank you Chris forinviting us, and this is a wonderful group of people. I am standing in a roomonly, it is terrific. Do not take my seat please, I am still eating. AndSuperintendent Torlakson, thank you very much for being here, also, and beingso strong on this. And Herb and I head up the task force that theSuperintendent has put together on Science Technology, Engineering, and Math.You will hear more about it this afternoon when Phil Lafontaine will be runninga session at 2:45. But roughly, the task force has a volunteer group of about40 people. They represent all the aspects of STEM education in the state. Theyare a terrific group, they are super active. When you see this report come out,this has not been written by anyone in the Department of Education. It has beenwritten by those individuals who know very well. And I say that because it hasbrought a breadth and wealth of dialogue into the picture, including theamazing new things that we have been hearing in, like, from our speakers thismorning, talking about the Hole-in-the-Wall. So we are focusing on new stuff aswell. So we are exploring the start of STEM education in California, includingthe curriculum, instructional practices, professional development for teachers,student testing, existing infrastructure, and partnerships with the communityin business. We hope to have this completed in January. And we have somewonderful partners, one of whom Herb is going to introduce right now.Herb Brunkhorst : Okay. Thank you Susan. I also wish to convey my welcome tothe group and thank Chris for a wonderful summit conference, he and his staff.It is my pleasure today to introduce Assembly Woman, Susan Bonilla. She waselected in November 19, '10. Represents California's 11th Assembly Districtwhich is primarily comprised of [background conversation]-- 2010! I am sorry. Ihave to add a little humor here to make sure you are all awake. I never liedbeing a luncheon speaker. And represents California's 11th Assembly District,which is primarily comprised of the northern portion of Contra Costa County.She previously served on the County Board of Supervisors there on the ConcordCity Council, and as a Mayor. Prior to serving as a public official, Susanworked as a high school English teacher in the Mount Diablo Unified SchoolDistrict. Currently, she has chaired the Assembly Budget Sub-Committee No. 2 onEducation Finance; where she is focused on renewing California's commitment tohigh-quality K12 and a higher education. Susan is the chairwoman of the SelectCommittee on high-quality early childhood education and the California Science,Engineering, Technology, Math, STEM task force, along with the Superintendent.It is my pleasure to introduce Assembly Woman, Susan Bonilla.Susan Bonilla: Oh, I am the original member, I think, of the granny club if Iwas, been serving since 1910. Thank you so much. And I just want to start byasking, I am hoping we have a lot of teachers in the audience. If you are ateacher, can you raise your hand? I just want to recognize you. Thank you somuch for what you do every day in the classroom. If you want to know why I wascrazy enough to consider going to Sacramento, from local government. It wasbecause, in Sacramento, I could really be as far more involved in education, atthe county level, that was not something I could do as much about. And so, thatwas my main motivating force for taking it on. To loosely paraphrase, WinstonChurchill, he said, Democracy is a terrible form of government until you havelooked around the world with all the other forms of government. He also said, Iwas looking at the quote; If you are going through hell, keep walking. Andsometimes I feel that way in Sacramento. Do not stop, you know. There is got tobe an ending sight, we are going to make it through. And coming here today,certainly encourages me in that undertaking. I want to thank Tom Torlakson. Icurrently hold the seat that Tom held in Sacramento. So I would reallyrecognize his mentoring, his encouraging of me to actually run as a teacher; asa very, very great influence, and actually getting me out of Concord and up toSacramento on behalf of our students, our teachers, and families here inCalifornia, and sets a very, very important role that each one of you in thisroom is playing right now. The people you influence, the things that you aresaying that changes the course of their lives, and really underscores theircommitment to what we are all trying to do here, which has really revitalizedand moved forward with education because it is such a very important issue. Ido chair the budget subcommittee on education, and I honestly did not believewhen I went to Sacramento, that one of the first things I have to do is startvoting on cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from Art [inaudible] statesystem on our UC system, along with child care cuts, subsidized child care.People sometimes wonder, I was a high school teacher, I taught English. So thatis the other thing. I do need to clarify that I do not think the arts are goingto be lost because we are focusing on STEM. I think, as an English teacher,would simply adapt to what we are talking about here today, and how do studentslearn. Is it, you know, inquiry, design, creativity, problem solving, and justput that into my English lessons, as a way to adapt to STEM. I do want torecognize also the Contra Costa County Office of Education and their earlyefforts. And I believe a lot of our county offices of education have been kindof forerunners on the STEM issues through our ROP classes. They were there longbefore we had an acronym for what STEM was, doing these very hands-oninteractive courses that engaged a lot our students. And in Contra CostaCounty, we have really been very privileged to have them leading the way as wehave built and continued to build our network as well. I want to recognize alsoDon Gill, superintendent from Antioch within my district and the incrediblework he has done as a superintendent. As you know, to take what we talk abouthere and apply it requires leadership. And it requires leadership from ouradministrators, certainly from those of us in government, I think our main jobis to try to get out of your way and not spend the money somewhere else. Butyet, you know, on the ground, it is our administrators within our districtsthat are so very critical to us actually, achieving all the goals that we aretalking about. And Don has done an incredible job within my district in termsof really leading and applying, and bringing about what we are talking aboutover the next couple of days here. I think that, as a teacher, one of the mostimportant things is that we have administrators who are strong leaders, who areaware, who are held accountable, who understand how to let teachers do whatthey are very good at, and encourage them and support them in that. And so Ijust would hope as I saw the priorities of CSLNet here, and we talked aboutaccountability, that we really do focus on what is flowing down from the top ofa school district, because it flows right into the classroom. And I will tellyou, teachers cannot fight a battle on all fronts. They have got enough of ajob in front of them without constantly tangling with the front office or theirprincipal, and feeling that they are not being supported in trying to doinnovative things and push through new ideas and engage their student in a newand existing ways. And that is an absolutely critical component that we need tofocus more on. So what do we do in Sacramento? Well, we work closely, I workclosely with Tom Torlakson on legislation. You know, one of the commentsearlier was, you know, how much of education is pretending to know what we donot know. And I would say, Boy, being a politician, 90% is pretending to knowwhat you do not know. You know. In one day, I mean, the number of subjects thatcome walking through the door that you are supposed to have some kind of atleast, you know, intelligent look in your eye, you know, to talk about, it ispretty phenomenal. But certainly, you know, when it comes to education, aslegislators, we can go to Tom, and I am very privileged to have a friendshipwith Tom as well. And one of his main roles is to come to us and say, Here aresome legislation that we need. Here is a way that you can actually help useducate our students more effectively. We also hold a number of hearings, ofcourse, around the budget all through the spring. We got the governor's budgetin January, and it is usually, well the two years I have been there, so yes,you know, we are up there for such a short period of time that everythingbecomes very, very compacted. But it is bad news. And then we seek to interactwith the governor through a hearing process. And I would just encourage all ofyou to really engage in that advocacy role for education to realize howimportant it is from your perspective to you educate your legislators, so it isnot just pretends, so they know what we are talking about. That is one of myjobs, is to help my colleagues understand what STEM is, where we need to go andhow to get there. There genuinely is an interest in education among those whoare elected. It is just that they are pulled in too many directions and they donot have the expertise maybe to know how to, get where we need to get. And thatis why, this type of conference and what Chris is doing through CSLNet is soincredibly valuable, and I want to thank Chris for his leadership. And theboard members, those on the advisory board for coming around this issue,because you are the experts and you inform us in Sacramento about what we needto be doing and where we need to go, and that is invaluable. Otherwise, we willjust continue to stir the pot, go round and round on issues and we need yourhelp to actually move forward in a very decisive and meaningful manner; withour legislation, how we determine budgets, you know, where money should be bestspent; what can we do to raise more money for education, for the other thingsand issues that are very important to us. So I rely a great deal upon thisorganization, and encourage each of you as you interact with your local electedassembly woman or state senator, that you would take that role of making anappointment. Go in, introduce yourself, tell them what they need to know aboutwhere education needs to go. Do not assume that they do because they probablydo not have that acronym down yet, and then you can play a very important rolein bringing them in as a stakeholder around this issue of STEM education. Soone last thing I want to touch on and I talked a lot about money beating aroundthe bush here. You heard Tom mentioned it this morning and I have to mention itagain because, otherwise, I do not know what I am going to do. The rest of thisyear is going to be quite a nightmare if Prop (Proposition) 30 does not pass.We really do, and I ask for your support on Proposition 30. I know that-- and Iguess I ask for them the basis of the fact that we do need to balance ourbudget. We have worked very, very hard, and Sacramento does get attacked a lot,and some of it with good reason, and some of it just because it is more fun towrite articles about, you know, what we are not doing and how stupid we arethan it is to actually say that we are doing anything good. But I will say thatthe structural budget gap has been, being closed in the last two budgets withall of our votes to making enormous billions upon billions of dollars of cuts.We have been doing our part, we have demonstrated. The votes have been made,the cuts have been taken. We are not coming to the people of California andasking for revenue without having first demonstrated that we are spending less;and that has been very, very painful to many constituencies, and of course, toeducation as well; because education makes up 50% of our state budget. When thepie shrank because of the economic downturn, that is why you have seen such adramatic decreases in our funding to education. It is not because anyone wantedto do that. It is simply because the money is not there. And so I would ask foryou to consider supporting Proposition 13. It is not-- Oh my gosh, 13. Let usnot get in to that one. It could go all day. The reason [chuckles] that we haveto do this, yeah, the history lesson, and the flashback I guess of GovernorBrown's first time on office, anyway. Yeah, everything comes from the roots,does not it? [laughter] One of those laws of nature. But yes, 30, thank you.That is like me being, you know, taking the office in 1910. It is important,and it is certainly not a [inaudible], I do not want to oversell it because weare still going to have serious problems. We are still going to have a long wayto go and a lot of work to do to fund education the way we should be. But, I amso encouraged to be here. One word stood out to me this morning in that very,very inspiring talk that we had, and it flashed on the screen and it was joy,it was joy. It is the look on that little boy's face when the world opened upto him. If I came for no other reason to this conference, I think it was toreconnect with what I am doing, what I am doing, why I went into the classroom.And the most important thing, I think, that we are all engaged in, and that is,that joy that a child can have when they realize what there is out there forthem to learn, and we are all a part of helping them engage with that. So thankyou for your participation, and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Thank you.Chris Roe: Well, thank you Susan. And thank you for your exceptional andpassionate leadership for the 11th district and the State of California. We arevery fortunate to have somebody in your leadership position who not only getsit from the perspective of a teacher, but has the passion that you bring to thejob every day. So we are really fortunate to have you as a friend and acolleague. So thanks again. Now, it is my pleasure to announce something thatwe are doing different this year. We are, for the first time, awarding a 2012STEM leadership award to one individual who has provided exceptional leadershipto our state in STEM education. We are pleased to name Chancellor Charlie B.Reed, or as many of you know him, actually he his officially known as CharlesB. Reed, but many of us know him Charlie Reed as the 2012 STEM leadership awardby CSLNet. Chancellor Reed has been the chief executive officer of thecountry's largest senior system of public higher education. The CSU has 44,000faculty and staff; 427,000 students in seven off-center campuses and an annualbudget of more than $5 billion. In 2004, the governor called on the State's twopublic university systems to develop programs to prepare significantly moreteachers in STEM fields. And Chancellor Reed at that time made a commitment onbehalf of the CSU system to double their number of STEM teachers producedannually from a baseline of 750 to over 1500 by 2011. And I believe Joni andBeverly are in the room, they will say that the CSU did meet that goal if Iunderstand correctly, which is pretty amazing, especially given a downwardtrajectory in terms of the numbers teachers that were producing annually in thestate. Chancellor Reed has also played a significant role in the development ofthe CSU-NASA partnership which has been instrumental in growth sector STEMsummer institutes in the STEM teacher and researcher, or Star program which isbased out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, it is just an amazing example. And twoof their Star students this past summer worked on the Mars Curiosity RoverSpace Laboratory. And it is very fit in that our next speaker is going to talkmore about that as well. So again, we are seeing this connections across theentire state made possible by leadership. Chancellor Reed has also been highlysupportive of CSU after-school, and STEM an out-of-school time work, andinvited the California Teacher Pathway's leaders to meet with campus presidentsin order to scale up the program from 1 to 10 campuses. Finally, ChancellorReed has been exceptionally supportive of advancing STEM opportunities forHispanic students working in partnership with Great Minds and STEM, and HENAACto increase numbers of minority students, and particularly Hispanic students atthe CSU campus. Although he cannot be here today, CSU Vice Chancellor BeverlyYoung is here to accept this award and I would invite her up to the stage. Isaw her earlier, there she isBeverly Young: Wow, that is very cool.Chris Roe: Would like to say a few words?Beverly Young: Just a few.Chris Roe: Right.Beverly Young: Hmm, this would look good in my office. [laughter] No, he willget it, he will get it. Although I know he would very much have liked to behere today, Doctor Reed was unable to join us. So on behalf of ChancellorCharles Reed, I accept this honor, this award, and I thank the STEM LearningNetwork for this. As you all have seen by the work that Chris just mentioned,the CSU's work, and actually more than doubling the number of Math, Scienceteachers through our MST project. The development and expansion of ourprofessional science master's program across the system, and the emphasis onSTEM education in the projects you mentioned as well as many others, ChancellorReed shares your deep commitment to this important work. And we look forward tocontinuing our partnership even as Chancellor Reed is getting ready to retire,we planned to continue our partnership with CSLNet and many of the rest of youas we move ahead. So again, on his behalf, I appreciate this honor. Thank you.