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Eastin Joins Faculty

Christina Kwong

Nearly ten years after being elected the first
female Superintendent of Public Instruction in the State of
California, Delaine Eastin has become a distinguished visiting
professor with the Education Dept. at Mills College starting this
fall for the next three years, furthering the work she has done
with the National Institute for School leadership.

“One of the reasons why I wanted to join
Mills was because I think they really face the issue of leadership
head on and they care about creating a new generation of leaders,”
said Eastin. She said that while most higher education degree
programs just teach professors and researchers, Mills helps educate
leaders, which is Eastin’s goal while she is here.

Due to Eastin’s commitment to future
leaders education, she earned the position of executive director of
NISL in 2002, a nonprofit organization that works to prepare
principals to be exceptional instructional leaders.

Layla Yousif, a grad student in the education
program at Mills and a student in Eastin’s Administrative
Leadership class did not know Eastin would be teaching it when she
signed up, but “she is amazed to have a professor so
important in politics.” Yousif, hoping to learn as much as
she can from Eastin, said, “I think she really cares about
her students, she’s always wanted to teach and this is her

As a state superintendent, overseeing all of
California’s elementary and secondary public schools, Eastin
was able to get a grasp on what she felt the problems plaguing
California’s public school system were, beyond lack of

Eastin saw that the schools are in need of
great principals, great teachers, smaller classes, high standards
and a system of framework such as textbooks and materials that
support those standards, high expectations, safety nets, and
assessments not so dependent on multiple choice tests. Better
leadership is the key ingredient to starting this redesign
according to Eastin.

“Almost a third of our teachers leave
the profession within five years. The number one reason that they
cite is lack of administrative support which means we have got to
have good principals as well as good teachers who can give support
to their students,” said Eastin.

“The issue is to raise all schools to a
level where kids are getting a high level of education. To do
anything else would be immoral, I think, because the economy is so
different than it was fifty years ago. Fifty years ago if you
didn’t get a great education, you could still get a job, and
it’s not true anymore,” said Eastin. “We have to make
sure we have a group of leaders that knows how to create a vision,
that knows how to manage for results, that knows how to build a
team at their school site.”