ACSA, CALSA grow relationship

Almost 20 years ago, a meeting of a small group of Latino superintendents took place. These Latino leaders had a desire to advocate on behalf of Latino students as well as to mentor future Latino school leaders, and from that meeting sprang forth the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators.

For the past decade, ACSA has worked closely with CALSA on a number of key issues and has been a proud co-sponsor of the CALSA Summer Institute

As EdCal reported a few months ago, longtime CALSA Executive Director Fernando Elizondo had decided it was time to step down after 10 years in the position. Following an exhaustive search, CALSA has named a new executive director, and with this move the relationship between ACSA and CALSA becomes even stronger. The new executive director is none other than ACSA Legislative Advocate Sal Villaseñor.

The move actually makes perfect sense. Villaseñor had already been serving on the CALSA Board of Directors as the governmental relations officer for the past four years. The plan is for Villaseñor to continue in his role with ACSA on a reduced level, while taking over Elizondo’s former position. Villaseñor’s ACSA legislative assignments will now be limited to credentialing, English learners and retirement.

ACSA Executive Director Bob Wells said he is pleased with the potential of Villaseñor’s new role.

“Over the past 10 years ACSA and CALSA have partnered to close the achievement gap and increase the number of Latino administrators in the state,” Wells said. “We’ve made important progress; for example, we now have more than 1,600 Latino administrators in ACSA, and CALSA has grown from 30 members 10 years ago to more than 300 today. But there is much more we can do, and Sal Villaseñor has the vision and the skills to help both associations create our future together.”

Elizondo said he is looking forward to Villaseñor’s fresh and spirited leadership in this new role.

“Sal is the right person to lead and maintain CALSA as a strong and independent statewide association,” Elizondo said. “Sal’s lifelong grassroots commitment as an advocate for Latino children and equity issues will enhance CALSA’s mission.”

David Gomez, superintendent of Santa Paula UHSD, has firm ties to both associations as an ACSA Board member and the president-elect of CALSA. Gomez said he believes that Villaseñor’s new role will strengthen both groups.

“As the new executive director for CALSA, Sal Villaseñor brings a wealth of skills, knowledge, and cultural understanding to dramatically enhance both CALSA and ACSA to the next level of administrative support, increased membership, and advocacy for our students. I know Sal will do a great job,” he said.

Indeed, the relationship between ACSA and CALSA becomes tighter as they also move to broadly expand the existing partnership relationship. CALSA will continue to function as a separate association, but ACSA will offer the services of Villaseñor and other staffing and support functions.

Both ACSA and CALSA are hoping this new partnership will expand and improve the services to members of both associations. It is expected that both groups will collaborate more on professional development offerings, and on such policy issues as closing the achievement gap.

Roberto Salinas, CALSA’s president, said the new relationship with ACSA will take a good thing and make it even better.

“The alliance forged by CALSA and ACSA is an extremely positive move for both organizations,” Salinas said. “CALSA and ACSA have always strived to work in collaboration, but a new era is on the horizon. California’s students are in a major battle to overcome the budget downfalls that are being cast upon them. The alliance will work together towards providing the needed support for staffs and districts in these times of crisis. CALSA and ACSA are on the verge of setting an important precedent as they address the goals of the alliance.”

California State University, Fresno professor and CALSA Mentor-ing Program Coordinator Ken Magdaleno, also ACSA’s 2009 Professor of Education of the Year, noted the deliberations on this expanded relationship took place over a long period of time.

“CALSA wanted to make sure that we maintained our independence as an organization while also supporting Sal as the new executive director, even as he serves as an ACSA employee,” Magdaleno said. “From my point of view, both CALSA and ACSA have at least two main goals in common: supporting all students in California and developing culturally competent leaders, through mentoring and coaching, that can serve as role models.

“It’s evident to me that with ACSA’s leadership, large membership and training resources, and CALSA’s outstanding leaders, members, and knowledge in developing educational leaders through mentoring, we can learn from, and support each other. I’m excited to see what will come of the expanded CALSA/ACSA partnership under Sal’s executive director leadership.”

Gomez too, sees the new relationship as a boon to both groups.

“Both of these excellent professional organizations offer many strengths and advocacy,” Gomez said. “By developing a relationship and partnership between ACSA and CALSA, the strengths and advocacy of these two organizations will increase exponentially.”

CALSA main event focuses on students

The California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators will hold its 2009 Summer Institute July 22-24 at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. The theme this year is “The Politics of Education: Keeping the Focus on Students in a Time of Crises.”

Although past CALSA Summer Institutes have primarily focused on helping Latino administrators to climb the administrative ladder, this year the focus will also bring attention to students and the effects of budget cuts. There will still be continuing focus on workshops that prepare Latino administrators for their next administrative position.

Co-sponsored by ACSA, this has become one of the premier events focusing on Latino issues regarding administrators – and now students.

The CALSA institute will have much to offer. There will be powerful workshops, mock interviews at both the superintendent and central office level, résumé reviews, and panel sessions with Latina superintendents and newly appointed superintendents.

Registration information on the CALSA Summer Institute can be obtained by visiting