Rodriguez Cal State Board

Central Union High School teacher, Haydee Rodriguez, reaches education pinnacle with California State Board of Education appointment. 

EL CENTRO — Local Central Union High School teacher, Haydee Rodriguez, was recently appointed to the State Board of Education by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“I’m really honored to represent, not only our community, but the voice of teachers on this really important decision-making body,” said Rodriguez.         

Rodriguez was nominated in January.

“After I went through the interviews and vetting process, I thought that an announcement would be made by March but due to the pandemic a lot of things were put on hold,” said Rodriguez. “I was really delighted when I got the news.”

Interviewers made the recommendation to Governor Gavin Newsom and then he finalized Rodriguez’s appointment last week. Rodriguez virtually attended her first State Board of Education meeting Wednesday, July 8.

The State Board of Education sets the policy for K-12 education throughout California.

As per district educators, different measures utilized to assess schools appear on the district’s dashboard such as high school dropout rates, graduation rates, how many students are in advanced placement (AP) classes, etc.

There are multiple measures of achievement on the dashboards which the State Board of Education assess.

“If a school is struggling, the State Board of Education will offer technical support to find out what they can do to make sure the kids’ numbers are improving,” said Rodriguez.

Under Jerry Brown, the Local Control Funding Formula was developed with the intention of putting more money into the schools that needed it the most, which marked the development of the previous multiple measures of achievement.

“Other states usually measure schools based on how kids are doing on the tests (state standardized),” said Rodriguez.

In California, the standardized test is only one measurement.

“As much as possible, we want to look at the school, as a whole, since some students may not do so well on tests but excel in other areas,” said Rodriguez. “If the school is not doing well at all, the State Board of Education will step in and provide support as opposed to punishment.”

Rodriguez’s new appointment carries a four-year assignment.

“If Governor Newsom is happy with the work that I’m doing, then he can reappoint me after four years,” said Rodriguez. “I will stay in the classroom and do my work in the classroom. Right now, we are all sheltering in place and having meetings via zoom. Once we can travel again, I will be traveling to Sacramento for the meetings for two days every other month.”

Rodriguez elaborated on her aspirations as a State Board of Education member.

“One of my greatest goals (as a classroom teacher) is to be a voice and serve as a bridge from how the policy is connected to the practice,” said Rodriguez. “I would also like to represent my colleagues as much as possible and to be that teacher voice on the board, represent our community — which is very distinct due to its proximity to the border — and be a voice for foster youth and students who don’t feel that schools in general serve their needs.”

Many of Rodriguez’s current students congratulated her through text message.

“It was also really touching to hear from some of my students,” said Rodriguez.

Many students struggled with connecting and distance learning when school closed.

“I had a few students that I reached out to their parents and one of the mom’s said ‘he said school was out,’” said Rodriguez. “Some parents thought that was the case — no more assignments. Sometimes it has to do with depression, for instance when one loses a routine. Lots of students already struggled with managing their time. Even day-to-day when face-to-face (before the COVID-19 distance learning) students were struggling. The students who disappeared, for lack of a better word, are the ones who struggle all the time and somehow have fallen through the cracks. It is a great lesson for me as a teacher to try to remember to check in with our students whether in person or digitally.”

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