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Our Mission

The Leadership Group Education Policy Team promotes and champions quality public education through partnerships with local, state, and federal decision makers. We work to ensure that the educational system in California and the Silicon Valley fosters academic excellence and high quality instruction, while producing world class graduates armed with 21st century skills. The team initiates outreach and advocacy to inform internal and external stakeholders and policymakers that a desirable, accessible and affordable education system ensures that Silicon Valley and California can remain competitive in the innovation economy.
The Education Policy Committee seeks to promote and champion high-quality education in our region through policy advocacy, programs, and public-private sector partnerships, with a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) to develop a strong, regional workforce.

Education Workplan

Diversifying the STEM Pipeline

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that computer and mathematical fields are expected to yield more than 1.3 million job openings by 2022. In addition, nearly 4 in 5 new jobs created among the life, physical, and social services occupations group will be in occupations that typically require a bachelor’s degree or higher, and more than 2 in 5 will be at the graduate degree level. However, according to the National Science Foundation, of the students awarded a bachelor’s degree in science and engineering, only 8% is awarded to African American students and 10% to Hispanic students. Although there has been a big boom in STEM degrees, the increase is not spread across underrepresented groups.

A diverse workforce also leads to significant economic benefits. In a McKinsey report, a company in the top quartile of racial diversity is 35% more likely to outperform a company in the bottom quartile. For companies in the top quartile of gender diversity, they are 15% more likely to outperform companies in the bottom quartile of gender diversity. A report by Strategy& (a consulting firm in PwC’s network) in 2012 estimated that fully engaging women in the workforce could raise GDP by 5%. A larger and more productive workforce stems from a more diverse workforce.

In Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley Companies recognize the importance of a diverse workforce and that work needs to be done in order to diversify the workforce. In order to increase diversity in Silicon Valley Companies, we need to focus on engagement, recruitment, retention and inclusionary policies and programs. Not only do we have to get kids interested in STEM, but also make sure that every child has an equal opportunity to pursue their passion for STEM. According to Ed Trust West, 40% of elementary teachers are spending less than an hour a week on science. This lack of science and math preparation continues through high school, when in 2013-2014, only 42 percent of all California high school graduates had completed their “a-g” requirements, including 3 years of math and 2 years of science. Increasing diversity requires expanding science and math education from elementary school all the way through high school and implementing recruitment, retention and inclusionary programs in workplaces. At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group we are dedicated to promoting policies and programs that prepare and encourage the inclusion and participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM careers.

News and Links

Computer Science

In the 2000’s, teachers began supplementing instruction with digital curricula and the internet became more integrated into the classroom with the boom in portable technology. With the current focus on 21st century skills and college readiness, the rise of tablets and education software is creating a tool for teachers to introduce modern technology into the classroom. Today’s students will need to develop computer skills in addition to the current curriculum.

There is no doubt that integrating technology into the classroom is necessary; as technology becomes pervasive in society, technological proficiency will be a standard requirement in the workforce. Administrators, teachers, public officials, investors and business have latched onto this idea and in the last 5 years K-12 ed tech funding has increased 5x, culminating in 2015, when K-12 ed tech funding reached an all-time high of $741 million. Schools are also becoming more responsive to advances in edtech; coding and computer science are entering the core curriculum in the seven largest US districts.

Leaders in different roles and across various sectors are advocating for increased access to computer science education in schools. Currently, only 16% of CA schools with AP programs offered the AP Computer Science course in 2014-2015 . In January 2016, President Barack 1 Obama introduced the CS For All initiative to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and have the skills they need to succeed. Part of the initiative calls for industry leaders to commit to the CS For All mission and work to increase access to computer science education. In Fall 2016, the College Board will be launching the new AP Computer Science 2 Principles course to better prepare students for college and career.

In Silicon Valley

Despite being the home of Silicon Valley, California struggles to implement long-range technology plans for K-12 classroom instruction. A study about California’s readiness for online standardized testing by the Public Policy Institute of California found that software and staffing levels are insufficient in more than half of California’s districts and that hardware levels are insufficient for about a quarter of districts. Although schools received funding for the implementation for new online testing, it was a one-time expense; in reality, per pupil spending on technology is actually at historically low levels. In the long term, virtually all schools will need to update their technology in order to benefit from advances in digital learning.

Locally, San Francisco Unified School District and Oakland Unified School District have started to focus on Computer Science education. SFUSD has been able to incorporate CS for all students by looking at CS implementation through an elementary, middle, and high school lens. In elementary school, all students will receive about 20 hours of CS instruction integrated with literacy and math standards. In middle school, all students will take a quarter- or trimester-long enrichment course that is held during the elective periods. In high school, students will elect whether to continue studying computer science. OUSD has committed to having computer science for all students by engaging different industries to publicly support computer science implementation. CS will be integrated into various parts of the day such as after school programs, summer programs, and internships through community partners. As part of this program, OUSD is working with dozens of  companies to provide mentoring and volunteer opportunities for their employees to work with Oakland youth.

News and Links

Workforce Development

According to the Center of Excellence for Labor Market Research, California’s labor force is not keeping up with the demands of employers. Over the next 10 years, middle skills will be in high demand, and these jobs will need applicants with college preparation up to an Associate degree, which will greatly outweigh the labor supply. By 2025, there will be 2.5 million job openings for middle skill jobs, both in new occupations and replacement occupations. Roughly 700,000 openings will require an Associate degree or some college experience. In the greater job market, 30% of all job openings will require some college experience, but California’s workforce is not prepared to fill these openings. To address these shortages, community colleges, businesses, workforce partners and policymakers need to come together to help Californians get the skills to maintain California’s strong economy.

In Silicon Valley

Regional economic studies show that although the Peninsula has recovered almost all of the jobs lost in the recession, growth has been uneven. While the median household income is about $25,000 above the state average, education and related household income is below the state average for Hispanic and African-American residents. Additionally, people with low levels of education have seen real income declines over the past 10 years.

As more firms report having trouble finding skilled workers, there is an opportunity to bridge these educational and economic gaps. Stated simply, our citizens need work and our economy needs workers. In the same regional studies, sectors like Professional, Scientific & Technical Services, Software & Internet Services, Healthcare and Construction are expected to receive the greatest share of the growth; getting workers into these sectors will require a focus on workforce development. In addressing these labor concerns, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is committed to stimulating the demand for the development of a diverse workforce in the Valley, with a focus on recruitment, training and retention.

News and Links

K-12 Education Quality

In 2013, California overhauled its funding structure for schools. The Local Control Facilities Funding (LCFF) eliminated many of California’s small funding programs in favor of a tiered system. Funding is divided into four categories: K-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12. Each group has a base rate for each child, counted from the average daily attendance (ADA): $6,845, $6,947, $7,154, and $8,289, respectively. In order to insure that more money goes to students who need it the most, supplemental funding is given for students that are English Learners (EL) or Low-Income (LI) or foster youth.  Under the law, each district is guaranteed to receive no less than they did in 2012-2013; although approximately 15% of schools will not receive additional funding, a vast majority will see a significant increase in funding.


To hold the districts accountable for their spending, every 3 years they must create a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), and revise it every year. The LCAP sets annual goals in 8 specific areas: student achievement, student engagement, other student outcomes, parental involvement, course access, implementation of common core standards, basic services, and school climate. Through the LCAP, which must be posted publicly, the community is able to keep their district accountable. Above the district, the Superintendent, School Board of Education and Council of Education will use these reports watch out for warning signs and assign assistance from the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence. The LCFF, LCAP and ESSA will go a long way towards directing funding to those who need it most and keeping schools accountable for their financial decisions.


Additionally, in 2013, California adopted the Next Generation Science Standards which apply to all California K-12 public schools. According to the ACT readiness benchmark, in 2012, 54% of high school graduates failed to meet the benchmark levels in math, and 69% of graduates failed to meet the readiness benchmark in science. These new standards are an effort to pull together three benchmarks (Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Disciplinary Core Ideas) to bring a more holistic view of teaching science. Students will be expected to use their scientific knowledge to engage in creative problem solving connected with the world around them. Overall, the new standards are preparing the next generation of students to tackle the next innovation challenges.

The Leadership Group is committed to supporting policies that lead towards equitable, high quality education.

News and Links

Education Committee


The Leadership Group Education Committee is comprised of member companies who have a vested interest in developing and supporting California’s public educational system. Members weigh in on issues relating to higher education, K-12, and early learning.


Meetings are generally held on the second Wednesday of each month from 9:30 a.m. -11:00 a.m. These meetings generally include:

  • Speaker presentations from external non-profits, agencies, and school leaders
  • Informative briefings about SVLG policy advocacy
  • Programmatic work
  • Community events

A full agenda packet with location information, previous meeting minutes and policy briefing papers is distributed at least one week in advance


Member Company Participants

Legislative Activity

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Education Policy team advocate for local, county, and state education legislation and ballot measures based on the decisions of its Education Committee, Working Council, and Board of Directors. Both bills and ballot measures are presented to these committees for discussion and voting.

2016 Bills

Category/Title Bill/Author(s) Summary SVLG Position Status
Teacher recruitment: California Center on Teaching Careers SB 915 (Liu) To re-establish the California Center on Teaching Careers (CalTeach). The program successfully boosted teacher recruitment through outreach campaigns across the state in the 1990s, but due to state budget constraints funding was discontinued after 2001-2002 and was subsequently repealed in 2008. Support Funding included in final budget
Career technical education SB 66 (Levya) SB 66 requires the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to make licensure information available to the California Community Colleges (CCC) Chancellor’s Office to enable the colleges to measure and improve student outcomes of career technical education programs offered. It also aligns performance accountability outcome measures for the Economic and Workforce Development Program (EWD) to the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Support Signed into law by the Governor
Computer science strategic implementation plan AB 2329 (Bonilla) AB2329 would establish a CS Strategic Advisory Board under the DOE to develop recommendations for a CS implementation plan, which, in turn, will help ensure that every student and especially those in under-represented communities have access to CS education. Support Signed into law by the Governor

Additional 2016 Policy Wins:

Governor Brown’s 2016-2017 Budget

The Governor’s budget included Increase of $7.8 million to provide access to full-day State Preschool for nearly 3,000 eligible children in the 2016-2017 school year. Over the next four years, funding will increase to $100 million to serve an additional 8,877 children in full-day State Preschool. In addition, efforts to do away with guaranteed transitional kindergarten statewide were turned aside. That said, we’re still not back to pre-2008 funding levels, and the need for high-quality early education remains great.

We supported the efforts of multiple coalitions to advocate for increasing funding to Early Childhood Education and to retain transitional kindergarten as an ongoing entitlement program. Additionally, as a member of the CA Business Advisory Council, we signed on to a letter advocating for increased funding to Early Childhood Education in the state budget.

K-12 Education Budget Summary 

2015 Bills

Category/Title Bill/Author(s) Summary SVLG Position Status
Pupil Testing: high school exit examination: suspension SB 172 (Liu) SB 172 would suspend the administration of the California High School Exit Examination for three school
Support Signed into law by the Governor
AP and IB Test Fee Grant Program AB 377 (Linder) AB 377 re-establishes a grant program for the state to subsidize the fee for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests for lower-income and foster youth students. Support Died in legislature
California Mathematics Placement Act of 2015 SB 359 (Mitchell) SB 359 requires each local educational agency serving grades 8 or 9 to develop and implement a fair, objective, and transparent mathematics placement policy. Support Signed into law by the Governor

2014 Bills

Category/Title Bill/Author(s) Summary SVLG Position Status
Early Ed:Kindergarten Readiness Act SB 837 (Steinberg) A powerful body of research shows that investing in early education is highly effective in increasing high school graduation and college attendance, decreasing crime, and building a stronger economy and middle class. Support California will pilot Transitional Kindergarten for 4-year olds in select sites across CA, with the intent to eventually roll-out and offer Transitional Kindergarten to all 4-year olds in the state.
Higher Ed:CSU/UC labor market outcome information SB 1022 (Huff) SB 1022 would require the California State University (CSU), and request the University of California (UC), to publicly provide labor market outcome information relating to their graduates by June 1, 2016. Support Signed into law by the Governor
K-12:  Encouraging Computer Science in Schools AB 1764 (Olsen, Buchanan) AB 1764 would allow school districts to award students a third year of math credit for satisfactory completion of a computer science course, which is currently considered an elective. Support Signed into law by the Governor

Our Team

Margaret Gray, Director of Education & Workforce Preparedness



Margaret Gray is the Director of Education Policy. In this role, she advances and advocates for the organization’s education policy priorities.

Prior to joining the Leadership Group, Margaret taught 4th grade in San Jose. Margaret also served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Panama where she taught English and partnered with the ministry of education to improve their English as a Second Language program.

Margaret has an M.A. in Urban Education–Policy and Administration from Loyola Marymount University and a B.A. in International Studies-Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.

David Palter, Associate, Workforce Development

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David Palter is the Workforce Development Associate for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. In this role, he collaborates with local K-12 school districts, higher education institutions, and SVLG member companies to develop a strong local workforce pipeline and increase the diversity of workers in Silicon Valley.

Prior to joining the Leadership Group, David taught courses on U.S. labor history, social movements, and globalization at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A fellow with the UC Center for New Racial Studies, his research highlighted the relationship between race and standardized testing in California’s public schools. While at UC Santa Cruz, David also served as the Field Organizer for a California State Assembly campaign, and an advocate for graduate funding with the UC Office of the President.

David received an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a B.A. in History from Oberlin College.

Paul Escobar, Director of Policy and Programs


Paul Escobar is the Director of Policy and Programs. He also works on several other programs run out of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation.

Paul previously worked with the UC Student Association as the Director of Graduate and Professional Student Advocacy. He helped graduate and professional students articulate their goals and priorities to UC administration and faculty through their statewide Jobs! campaign. Prior to joining the Leadership Group, Paul worked on Mayor Sam Liccardo’s campaign for Mayor as the Deputy Field Director.
Paul is very active in the Silicon Valley community, volunteering with a variety of local organizations. He received a B.A. in French and Rhetoric from UC Berkeley and an MTS in Philosophy of Religion from Harvard Divinity School.


Teacher Summer Fellowships

State Legislative Information

County Offices of Education

Education Non-profit Advocacy Organizations


Statewide Professional Organizations



Community Partners

Keep current with our activity via Twitter! @SVLG_Ed