Linda Darling-Hammond, a longtime Stanford University education professor, will lead the 11-member state Board of Education, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday.
Darling-Hammond will replace another Stanford education professor: Michael Kirst, who announced last year he would step down after four terms in the office.
Newsom announced Darling-Hammond's appointment in his "State of the State" address in Sacramento on Tuesday.
"The measure of a school system's excellence is more than the sum of its budgets. We need clear and achievable standards of transparency, more information sharing, and accountability for all public schools — traditional and charter," Newsom said. "We need a new president for the state Board of Education, to lead the way and work alongside State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, and to lift up all of our students. And my pick for that position is nationally recognized education expert Linda Darling-Hammond."
Darling-Hammond did not immediately return a request for comment. She was in the chamber in the state Capitol for Newsom's address on Tuesday, according to media reports.
The Board of Education oversees policy, academic standards, curriculum, assessments and accountability for K-12 schools throughout the state.
Darling-Hammond comes to the appointment with a well-established track record in education policy and reform, from the start of her career as a public school teacher to her positions as a professor emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, president of the Palo Alto-based Learning Policy Institute, founder and co-director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and faculty sponsor for Stanford's Teacher Education Program, according to an announcement from the governor's office.
She also served as executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future from 1994 to 2001. The commission's 1996 report, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future," is hailed for prompting a national conversation about and policy changes on teaching quality.
In 2008, Darling-Hammond led then-President Barack Obama's education policy transition team.
Newsom's speech touched on several critical education issues facing the state, including what he described as the "underlying causes" of the recent teachers' strike in Los Angeles: "understaffed schools, overcrowded classrooms, pension pressures, the achievement gap, and charter school growth — these stressors are showing up all over the state, right here in Sacramento, in Fresno, and Oakland," he said. Early education is also a major focus of Newsom's; his proposed budget includes $125 million to increase access to subsidized full-day, full-year state preschool.
The governor's proposed state budget for next year includes more than $80 billion for schools — an investment he said still isn't enough.
"We're still 41st in the nation in per pupil funding," Newsom said. "Something needs to change. We need to have an honest conversation about how we fund our schools at a state and local level."
In a statement, the CEO and executive director of the California School Boards Association (CSBA) said his organization was "heartened" by Darling-Hammond's appointment, which is subject to Senate confirmation.
"Darling-Hammond is a champion for equity and possesses deep knowledge of teaching and learning," Vernon Billy said. "CSBA has worked extensively with Darling-Hammond to address a number of pressing issues, such as the teacher shortage, and looks forward to her leadership in this new role."
Billy also lauded Newsom's "recognition that a conversation about increasing school funding is 'long overdue.'"