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Inside CSULB
Vol 57 No. 8 : April 2005
Vol 57 No. 8 | Apr. 2005

CSULB Administrator Appointed to Newly Established P-16 Council

Kim Oanh Nguyen-Lam, interim executive director of the Center for Language Minority Education and Research (CLMER) at CSULB, has been appointed to the newly established California P-16 Council by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. The council has been charged with the development of strategies to better coordinate, integrate and improve education for California students from preschool through college.

Nguyen-Lam, who is also a member of the school board for the Garden Grove Unified School District, was one of 44 appointees announced by the State Superintendent on Monday (April 11). Barry Munitz, president and chief executive officer of The J. Paul Getty Trust and former chancellor of The California State University system, was named chair of the council.

"I was very surprised when I received the direct call from State Superintendent O'Connell informing me of the appointment to serve on the P-16 Council," Nguyen-Lam recalled. "I knew that I was nominated by a number of people a while ago, but since I had not heard from anyone, I didn't think I was selected. So the news came as a big surprise and I feel very honored."

O'Connell first announced the establishment of the P-16 Council last December. The council has been charged with examining ways to: (1) improve student achievement at all levels and eliminate the achievement gap; (2) link all education levels, from preschool, elementary, middle, high school, and through higher education, to create a comprehensive, seamless system of student learning; (3) ensure all students have access to caring and qualified teachers; and (4) increase public awareness of the link between an educated citizenry and a healthy economy.

"Different segments of California's education system have been working in isolation for too long," O'Connell said. "We can better help our students meet the challenge of high standards and high expectations if the entire system is better coordinated. I have asked this impressive group of education leaders and experts to find ways to break down traditional barriers and work toward building a seamless education system that better serves all California students."

The members of the council represent a wide range of experts throughout California, including teachers, administrators, parents, business leaders, students and academics. In addition, several of the statewide council members serve on regional councils as well.

Nguyen-Lam also brings a diverse background and experience with her to the council, and she notes that the timing of her appointment has significance to her.

"(The appointment) came at the most poignant time for me as our Vietnamese American communities in Orange County and across the nation are preparing to commemorate our 30th anniversary of the Vietnamese refugee experience at the end of this month," she stated. "Thirty years ago, I was a non-English-speaking high school student, struggling to survive in a 'newcomer' class, not understanding one word of English. Thirty years later, not only was I elected to the Board of Trustees of the fifth largest urban school district in the state, I also have been appointed to serve on a state education advisory council.

"I believe that my unique personal and professional experience will allow me to contribute positively to the council. Prior to joining Cal State Long Beach, I had taught preschool to high school in local school districts for 13 years. I am also a parent of a high school student and a college student, so I share the concerns of all parents," Nguyen-Lam said. "I will be an advocate for all students, especially those from minority ethnic and language backgrounds. In today's economy, having a college degree is a prerequisite to having the opportunity to lead a productive life."

The P-16 Council will first convene May 17 and immediately tackle such issues as O'Connell's call to add rigor and relevance to our state's high schools and better prepare students for careers or college. The council will also work closely with the Governor's Advisory Committee on Education Excellence to ensure all segments of California government are working toward building educational excellence.

"This council will help the state better meet the needs of our students and improve their academic achievement, which in turn will provide California's business sector with a better skilled work force to compete in today's global economy," said O'Connell.

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