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Karen Stapf Walters New Executive Director of CA Board of Education

by Blake Bunch, published
Karen Stapf Walters (center). Credit:

karen stapf walters

California Governor Jerry Brown announced Tuesday that he has appointed Karen Stapf Walters as the new Executive Director of the California Board of Education.

Walters will succeed Sue Burr, who retired in a November 9 letter to the governor. This letter marked Burr's fortieth anniversary in public service. She thanked the governor for providing "a wonderful coda to my career."

After the board's exhaustive efforts in campaigning, and successfully winning voter approval for Proposition 30, Burr decided to tender her resignation. Prop. 30, in short, was Brown's ballot initiative to levy taxes on the wealthiest Californians, as well as implement a hike in sales taxes, to increase educational funding.

This past December, many were concerned about how Burr's departure would affect education funding in Governor Brown's budget. Now that Brown has made decent use of Prop. 30 funding, as stated in a recent IVN article, some of those fears may have been assuaged.

Stapf Walters' Background in the California Education System

Stapf Walters is as a former teacher and has worked administratively as Interim Executive Director of Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). Here, she oversaw the ACSA’s political action committees and candidate endorsement processes.

For two decades she worked at the state level on K-12 policy issues. This role involved governmental relations for ACSA, as she shepherded state and federal programs and managed a team of lobbyists that brings public policy issues before the Legislature and state agencies.

Prior to joining the ACSA, Stapf Walters was a middle and high school social studies and history teacher for over ten years. She functioned as director of Education Seminar Programs for Fiduciary Education from 1996 to 1998, and was a California State Fellow for Senator Lucy Killea from 1990 to 1991.

With Killea, she served from 1991 to 1996 as a committee consultant and senior staff member. Also, Stapf Walters served as a committee consultant in the California State Senate and as a legislative aide, with an obvious expertise in education.

Her new role will pay her a $175,000 annual salary, though the appointment must be approved by the board of education.

Prior to Brown's budget release, California only spent 3.3 percent of its taxable resources on education, and somehow ranked forty-ninth behind Arizona and Utah in the student-to-teacher ratio, according to Brown's website.

Brown's new budget seems promising for K-12 education, as well as community colleges and university systems. With Prop. 30 funds available for use in this year's budget, and Stapf Walters' educational experience aiding Governor Brown on these issues, education in California should be making big strides very soon.

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