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Visiting Committee Chair Alan Bersin's Day with the Students

After less than 24 hours attending classes and meeting with HGSE students and faculty, California Secretary of Education Alan Bersin was already being recognized by students at the local Starbucks. Clearly they had appreciated the time he had spent talking with them.

"It is always good to return with students because their view of the world is helpful with checking in on the policy positions I advocate for and against," said Bersin, who is chair of the Ed School's Visiting Committee.

Bersin was appointed California's Secretary of Education on July 1, 2005 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Prior to his appointment by the Governor, he was Superintendent of Public Education in San Diego City Schools, the nation's eighth largest urban school district. Before his career in education, Bersin served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California for nearly five years.

Bersin kicked off his day by spending time in Professor Gary Orfield's course, Interracial Schools: Segregation and the Possibility of Integration.

"I was struck by the vibrant dialogue in which different points of view were challenged," Bersin said. In addition, he also spent time in Senior Lecturer Kay Merseth's Practicum on Secondary Education course.

Lunch provided an opportunity for Bersin to speak with some of HGSE's Urban Scholars and doctoral students about education. During the hour-long discussion, which covered topics including achievement gap, teacher compensation, charter schools, certifications, and standards, Bersin stressed the importance of good teaching and optimism for education's future.

"Having lunch with Alan Bersin was insightful because he pushed me to think about testing, instructional practice, and other educational issues on a broad scale," said doctoral student Chantal Francois. "He understands that teaching is one of the hardest professions, and has thought deeply about how to support professionalism among teachers."

The visit also left an invaluable impression on Bersin as well. "What I see is evidence that we are attracting the best and the brightest, but also supporting education training effectively," he said.


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