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State of California June 8, 2010 Election
Smart Voter

LENNING Questionnaire for State Superintendent of Public Instruction 2010

By Diane A. Lenning, Ed.M.

Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This information is provided by the candidate
San Francisco for Democracy's Questionnaire for CA SPI Candidates.
Candidate Questionnaire for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Name: Diane Lenning, Ed.M.

1) Why are you running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction? As a teacher for over thirty years, Medal of Freedom Award winner, and educator in an Eli Broad national award winning school district, I know the problems of education and how to "fix" our schools. I cannot stand by and watch our schools fail our kids when I know what to do to solve the issues. Additionally, as a third year law student, I know how to write legislation that will "systemically fix" our schools rather than short term "band-aids" (although may be beneficial for a few) that do little to solve the issues throughout the state. As former chair of the national Republican educators caucus of the NEA, I have worked for many years to bring together people on common ground issues. "Reducing the drop-out rate" is one of those issues I have worked with directly, and has now become a national focus. I was elected many times as one of only 25 State Delegates to the NEA 10,000 member representative assembly that meets each year. I can work together will all stakeholders in order to bring together people around "common-ground" issues each. I have the political experience, education experience, and legal qualifications to be the candidate we truly need this year, to lead with many ideas for how to reform education to provide a quality education for every young person.

2) What is your background in Public Education? I have been an educator for over thirty years, working in the trenches. I taught high school in public schools and the CA Youth Authority with gang members of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Over the years, I have taught in almost every subject; history, science, English, math, music, traffic & safety, and resource students. Additionally, early in my career, I was a substitute teacher for five years, working in a different school almost every day in six different school districts. I was often called by 2-3 districts every morning. I have various credentials including a life credential, designated subject, CLAD, Resource, and Administration Tier I, as well as a Masters Degree in Secondary Education. Currently, I am working on a JD as a third year law student.

I was elected High School Segment Director among 2,400 colleagues for my local union board, and served on the board for eight years. I also served many years as a local delegate to our union monthly meetings. I was chair of the Rules and Elections committee, and served on numerous committees for our district. Additionally, I was instrumental in writing goals for our school, including introducing new goals for critical thinking skills.

3) What is your strategy for reducing, or completely closing the learning gap between students of different ethnicities and income levels? As an educator of minority students in a national award winning school district for most improved student scores in the nation, I know first-hand that safe schools, students engaging in a rigorous curriculum, with teachers who are professionally prepared in their subject matter and trained on how to bring success to undisciplined students, are an essential foundation for a quality education program.

Secondly, it takes quality leadership from the district and school level of administrators and principals in order to provide high quality focus on assuring a school-wide discipline plan that is upheld by the entire staff, and a quality academic curriculum plan that includes vocational education classes for those students who do not wish to go on to college.

4) If elected to this position, what are your top three priorities for improving public education in the state of California? 1) Reduce the school drop-out rate (currently 50% statewide), assuring all our young people get a quality education. This will provide for a better future for every young person who can get a job and support their families. Additionally, an educated society provides for a stronger economy and safer neighborhoods. Currently, we spend $1.1 billion on "drop-outs" under age 18 on crime related expenses.

2) Safe campuses with two police on every high school, and at risk middle schools, working with local community police and law enforcement with assistance through the District Attorney's office will assure our young people attend school, and not engage in criminal activities . This will support better attendance because many students stay home rather than attend schools that are unsafe. Students deserve a quality "safe" education climate conducive to learning.

3) Providing assessed educator professional development needs using strategies and methods such as Peters Procedures that train teachers to bring success to undisciplined students, assuring a quality learning classroom environment where students engage in a rigorous curriculum will provide the opportunity for a quality education for every young person. (

Additionally, assure our students know the Constitution using primary source founding documents through either a quarter civics/government class or minimum competency test, and an American flag in every classroom. Accuracy in textbooks is a prime goal as well, assuring our students are engaged learners in an environment where "critical thinking skills" are developed and strengthened using many sides of issues in order to arrive at reasoned conclusions.

Best Regards,

Diane Lenning, Ed.M. ph: 562-596-4825 fax: 562-430-7503

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