YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Eastin Urges Involvement in Education

Visit: State schools chief tours local campuses and delivers well-received speech calling on community leaders to do more to help students.


Challenging community leaders to become more engaged in the education of Ventura County's children, California's top public school official said Wednesday that fostering a well-educated work force is critical for the state's future and should become everyone's concern.

"In 10 years, there will be two kinds of people in California: the educated and the hardly employable," said Delaine Eastin, state superintendent of public instruction, during a luncheon at the Camarillo Rotary Club.

Her speech was part of a whirlwind, one-day tour of the county that included visits to Charles Blackstock School in Oxnard, a nationally recognized pioneer in the use of technology in the classroom, as well as Los Altos Intermediate School in Camarillo and Oxnard High School.

"To you, let me say, there is much more you can do," Eastin told the more than 150 club members and local educators who greeted her speech with a standing ovation.

Eastin challenged them to participate in events such as NetDay, a grass-roots effort to wire every school in California to the Internet, and to donate time and used high-tech equipment to schools. She also said children would benefit from visiting more workplaces "so they see what people actually do at their jobs."

And Eastin said parents should spend more time directly supporting their children's education.

"Yes, we need to reduce class size," she said. Yes, the schools' reading programs should be improved, she said. But parents should also spend more time teaching their children how to read and reading to them in the evening, she added.

Eastin began her visit at Blackstock, where she was greeted by Principal Robin Freeman, and, through the school's video conferencing system, by the district's superintendent, Ronald Rescigno, and the principals of Hollywood Beach and Sunkist elementary schools, Richard Froyen and Ed Jones.

She also visited several of the school's nine so-called "smart" classrooms, which have dozens of computers with high-speed connections to the Internet that allow students to use online audio and video programs.


In one such classroom, students using the Internet tracked the progress of Isidore, a tropical storm that is developing over the Atlantic Ocean. In the school's tech lab, Eastin watched eighth-graders make sketches of electrical circuits using computer-aided design software.

And after playing with a computer equipped with multimedia software for English-as-a-second-language instruction, Eastin praised school officials for their effective use of technology.

"I am very proud," Eastin said. "This must be one of the finest districts in the state, if not the finest."

Calling technology a "great equalizer," Eastin said Blackstock should serve as a model for other schools in California. A computer, just like a pencil, is a tool that can be used in education, she said.

"We don't ask kids to share a pencil," Eastin said. "But [in some schools] we ask 30 kids to share a computer."

The state's role in promoting technology, Eastin said, is to serve as a clearinghouse for local school districts and to provide them with blueprints for technology development, including infrastructure, curriculum and teacher training.

At Los Altos Middle School in Camarillo, Eastin told students in a speech and drama class that more jobs, from firefighting to policing, require good public speaking skills.

"You will learn skills in this class that will be very useful," she said. Then she told students of her own struggles with public appearances.

"At 14, I was the shyest kid on campus," Eastin said. "The drama class I took was very useful for me."

During her brief visit, Eastin managed to make a direct impact on at least some students.

Armed with a small camera, eighth-grader Stephanie Jacobs accompanied Eastin during her tour of Los Altos. Stephanie, a 13-year-old photographer and student body vice president, was chosen to document the event for the school's yearbook.

Stephanie said Eastin's visit would motivate students at the school. "It means a lot to us that she took time to come to our school," she said.

Los Angeles Times Articles