Senate confirms State Board Members Burr, Straus and Sandoval

by Peter Wright, CSBA Policy & Programs Officer

After what Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called the most intensive Rules Committee hearing during his tenure, the full Senate confirmed Gov. Jerry Brown’s nomination of Sue Burr, Ilene Straus and Nicolasa Sandoval to California’s State Board of Education on Jan. 13.

Spirited questioning in committee a few days earlier lasted about three hours, ending in a vote of 5-0 in favor of the nominees.CSBA’s Senior Director of Policy and Programs Teri Burns was on hand to testify.

“The three nominees have been impressive in their desire and commitment to work with all stakeholders, as well as recognize the complexity in the scopes, sizes, and diversity of California’s many school districts,” Burns said to the committee.  “The California School Boards Association endorses the governor’s three nominees for the State Board of Education.”

The committee’s approval of Straus and Sandoval was mostly certain ahead of the hearing, but Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, voiced concern for Burr’s commitment to English Learners in the Local Control and Accountability Plan.  The nearly three-hour hearing was enough for Burr to win over the senator.

The hearing was lengthy, but mostly collegial.  Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, expressed gratitude for the huge responsibility and many hours of commitment school board members take on for essentially no pay.

Showcasing the productive working relationships that the current State Board is known for, the three nominees seemed to team up in answering the senators’ questions.  They never disagreed, but politely deferred and built on one another’s responses.

A packed committee room and representatives of the California Teachers Association, Association of California School Administrators, California Association of School Business Officials and former State Superintendent Jack O’Connell were on hand with Teri Burns to support the nominees.

Burns predicts that Senate confirmation of the nominees will continue the current era of mutual trust and attention to equity that produced the Local Control Funding Formula.  “This is our chance to embrace this fundamental change in how we fund our schools to close the achievement gap once and for all,” she said.

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