California Group Faculties chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley is stepping right down to tackle a brand new function as head of the School Futures Basis, a non-public grant-making group centered on boosting school completion amongst low-income and minority college students in California.
Oakley introduced Thursday that he’ll step down in August after main the system for practically six years. His tenure additionally included a five-month stint as a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Training Miguel Cardona final 12 months.
“Serving as chancellor of the group school system that gave me the chance to reach greater schooling has been probably the most rewarding expertise of my life,” Oakley mentioned in a press launch. “I’m so happy with what the Chancellor’s Workplace workforce has completed and of the wonderful college students that we serve.”
The California Group School system is the most important within the nation, with 116 schools and greater than 2.1 million college students. The sprawling system encompasses rural and concrete establishments and is thought to be one thing of a bellwether amongst group school leaders nationwide. Oakley, who beforehand served as superintendent and president of the Lengthy Seashore Group School District, bought the eye of system leaders after instituting the Lengthy Seashore School Promise, a one-year free school program with a switch pathway to the town’s Cal State campus, lengthy earlier than these applications swept the nation.
Oakley is taken into account a thought chief on school affordability and fairness and is thought for elevating the profile of the system by working with state lawmakers to craft greater ed coverage. His tenure spanned some troublesome instances for group schools, together with through the presidency of Donald Trump, who generally dismissed their worth, and through the COVID-19 pandemic, which despatched group school enrollments spiraling and disproportionately harm Black and Latino and low-income college students notably, who’re a big portion of group school pupil populations.
“Chancellor Oakley has been an unimaginable chief and champion for greater schooling, setting California’s group schools on a course for transformational change,” California governor Gavin Newsom mentioned in a press launch. “As we execute on the imaginative and prescient for a extra equitable, inexpensive, and student-centered system of upper schooling, I sit up for persevering with to work with Chancellor Oakley in his new function, together with the sturdy management within the Chancellor’s Workplace and at campuses all through the state.”
Larry Galizio, president and CEO of the Group School League of California, mentioned Oakley used his place to assist set a better schooling coverage agenda for the state that emphasised closing fairness gaps.
“He completely shifted the state-wide dialogue, deliberation and focus to fairness,” he mentioned. “With out query, he considerably modified the dialogue, the dialog, the main focus that we have to do higher by our college students of coloration, underserved college students and low-income college students and we have to take motion on the state-wide legislative and native degree to higher serve college students of coloration.”
Galizio hopes campus leaders, “individuals who truly must implement laws and schooling code, individuals who work on the campuses with the scholars and the communities” will probably be “intimately concerned” within the search and hiring course of for the following chancellor.
The outgoing chancellor mentioned the timing felt proper for his departure.
“I really feel like we’ve completed a lot,” Oakley mentioned in an interview. “I simply really feel that this can be a good time for me to step away from that function and provides one in all our newer voices within the system the prospect to guide it from right here.”
The Board of Governors plans to satisfy in July to nominate an interim chancellor and start the search course of for Oakley’s alternative.
He leaves “huge sneakers to fill,” mentioned Pamela Haynes, president of the system’s Board of Governors and a member of the Los Rios Group School District Board of Trustees.
“This can be a huge job,” she mentioned. “We discovered the proper particular person in Eloy. We have to discover the proper particular person to maneuver the agenda even additional.”
Colleagues have described Oakley as having a steely concentrate on pupil success outcomes, which improved throughout pupil teams throughout his tenure. The variety of college students graduating with credentials elevated by 32 % because the 2015–16 educational 12 months, when he began his function. Additionally, the variety of college students incomes affiliate levels for switch—affiliate levels with a assured pathway to the California State College system—greater than doubled.
He sees his new function as constructing on his present mission on the system by permitting him to work with each group school and four-year college methods within the state.
“I can proceed to focus time and a spotlight on California and the wants of our most underrepresented college students in California,” he mentioned. “It very a lot aligns with what I like to do and what I wish to do.”
Amongst his proudest accomplishments as chancellor was his Imaginative and prescient for Success, a strategic plan to shut fairness gaps and enhance switch and commencement charges, adopted by the system in 2017.
Haynes mentioned she reads and rereads the plan to information her work.
“It’s underlined, writing within the margins, it’s highlighted,” she mentioned. “Its targets and its commitments have been personally, as a trustee and as a Board of Governors member, my North Star. It focuses in on college students, assembly them the place they’re, designing with them in thoughts, having excessive expectations but in addition excessive help,” and it ensures pupil voices are “embedded” in systemwide coverage.
She additionally recommended Oakley for introducing a student-centered funding components in 2018, which is scheduled to enter full impact in 2024. The brand new components bases state funding on varied pupil success metrics, together with enrollment, switch and completion charges.
At a coverage degree, Oakley takes satisfaction in a lawsuit the system filed towards former schooling secretary Betsy DeVos in 2020 for excluding undocumented college students from receiving emergency COVID-19 aid grants.
His tenure was additionally marked by vital reforms to remedial schooling with the passage of Meeting Invoice 705, a 2017 state regulation that did away with placement exams and necessary remedial math and English programs at California Group Faculties. Some schools have reportedly lagged in implementing the reforms. However over 4 years, the one-year completion charge in transferable credit-bearing math programs elevated 26 % to 50 % and from 49 % to 67 % in credit-bearing English programs.
“To me, it’s a really private spotlight of my time right here, and I really feel that we crossed the bridge and there’s no going again to the sorts of practices we’ve had up to now,” he mentioned. “I really feel excellent in regards to the path we’re going from right here.”
The School Affiliation of California Group Faculties, which questioned a number of the reforms, issued an announcement wishing Oakley luck in his new endeavors.
“Whereas we now have not at all times agreed with the Chancellor on sure coverage issues, his legacy of bringing fairness to the forefront of each group school coverage dialogue must be celebrated and continued,” the affiliation mentioned in a press launch. “We want him all the most effective in his new place on the School Futures Basis.”
Oakley acknowledges that his departure comes at a second of transition, and maybe anxiousness, for California Group School leaders, because the pandemic continues and schools face ongoing enrollment declines, very similar to group schools throughout the nation. The scholar-centered funding components, which met with some hand-wringing and doubts amongst campus leaders, can be poised to take impact quickly.
“I discover that directors and board members are at all times nervous about transition, however that’s the one fixed that we now have in greater schooling,” he mentioned. “However I additionally assume there’s plenty of pleasure about these transitions. During the last six years, there’s been plenty of uncertainty all through the nation, all through the world for that matter, and all through these six years, we’ve made large positive aspects in the way in which that we take into consideration college students, the way in which we serve college students, the way in which we tailored to a really difficult setting.”
Oakley identified that schools within the system made vital and lasting adjustments through the pandemic. For instance, they constructed up their on-line choices, which benefited working grownup learners who want versatile course choices. He additionally believes the system is in regular palms with the Board of Governors and his govt workforce and famous that he’s leaving at a time when California Group Faculties have “the most important price range the system has ever seen.”
Though he’s trying ahead to his new function, he mentioned he’ll miss features of his work within the system, notably participating with pupil leaders.
“They only by no means fail to amaze me,” he mentioned. “Our pupil leaders come from a number of the most difficult backgrounds you’ll be able to consider, they usually’ve overcome extra obstacles in a single 12 months than most individuals overcome in a whole lifetime. And but they nonetheless have interaction in management and commit themselves to enhancing their lives, the lives of their friends. That’s what I’ll miss probably the most is interacting with the coed leaders I’ve had the privilege of working with over the past many, a few years.”