Delaine Eastin

Bio: Delaine Eastin was born on August 20, 1947 in San Diego while her father was stationed there for the U.S. Navy, but soon after her father completed his military career, her family moved north to her mother’s hometown of San Francisco. While there, Delaine was enrolled in an elementary second grade class with 43 other children. Shortly thereafter, the Eastin family moved to San Carlos, where Delaine enrolled in a class with only 19 other students, and she began to thrive academically. It was this experience that would inspire her interest in class size reduction later in life. She went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Davis and a master’s degree in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

After graduation, Delaine spent seven years teaching women’s studies and political science at various community colleges, including Ventura College, DeAnza College, and Cañada College. In 1979, she changed careers and joined Pacific Telephone as an accounting manager before being promoted to a corporate strategic planner.

Delaine’s political career began in 1980, when she served as a member of the Union City Council. As a councilmember, she represented the City on a variety of boards, including serving as chair of the Alameda County Library Commission for five of the six years she served on the commission. She also successfully advocated for a Recycling Subcommittee while serving on the Solid Waste Management Authority.

In 1986, Delaine was elected to the California State Assembly for the 18th District, where she served until 1992. Following redistricting, she served as the Assembly member for the 20th District from 1992 until 1994. During her tenure in the State Assembly, Delaine represented portions of Alameda and Santa Clara counties, and focused on educational issues such as class size reduction, increasing parent involvement, and enhancing school safety.

Following her tenure in the California State Assembly, Delaine was selected as the first and only female State Superintendent of Public Instruction, where class size reduction was her top priority. She persuaded the governor and the legislature to invest $2.3 billion in cutting class sizes and led in the adoption of high statewide academic standards in math, science, English language arts, and social studies in response to declining student performance. Standards in the arts were later added to this set of curriculum standards. Delaine also implemented a new statewide test, established a new school and district accountability system, and launched the “Challenge Initiative” in fall of 1995 to raise standards and accountability. In all, 56 school districts covering nearly half a million students embraced the initiative and agreed to set high standards for every subject for all grade levels.

During her tenure as State Superintendent, Delaine visited more than 600 schools across California’s 58 counties and visited one school a week on average. As a champion for Universal Preschool, she had a Preschool Task Force made up of educators, business leaders, civil rights advocates, and children’s advocates. The Taskforce called for Universal Preschool in California within a decade. Delaine subsequently served as the Honorary Chair of Proposition 10, which was written to support the welfare, health, and education of children aged 0-5 through a tax on tobacco products.

Due to term limits, Delaine was unable to run for a third term. After serving as State Superintendent, she went on to become the first Executive Director of the National Institute of Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C. from 2002-2004. Following her time in D.C., she taught as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Education at Mills College until 2008, where she taught courses in Public Policy, Education Administrative Theory, Education Leadership, and Politics.

In November of 2016, she launched what would ultimately become an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid, where one of her major platforms was to ban fracking due to the environmental impacts. Today, Delaine serves as a board member for the UC Center Sacramento Advisory Board, the Chancellor’s Women in STEM Board at UC Davis, the Edible Schoolyard Advisory Board, the Center for Nutrition Education Advisory Board at UC Davis, and the Yolo County Advisory Board for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

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Legislation:

Education Policy

  • AB 1325 (1987-1988)
  • AB 2026 (1989-1990)
  • AB 4 (1991-1992)
  • AB 951 (1991-1992)
  • AB 1273 (1993-1994)
  • AB 1700 (1993-1994)

Transportation Policy

  • AB 1573 (1987-1988)
  • AB 1574 (1987-1988)
  • AB 3705 (1987-1988)
  • AB 815 (1989-1990)
  • AB 1705 (1991-1992)

Environmental Policy

  • AB 1575 (1987-1988)
  • AB 2447 (1987-1988)
  • AB 3128 (1987-1988)
  • AB 939 (1989-1990)
  • AB 40 (1991-1992)
  • AB 1476 (1991-1992)
  • AB 1760 (1991-1992)
  • AB 2446 (1991-1992)
  • AB 1220 (1993-1994)

Interesting Stories:

Eastin has received the following honors and awards:

  • Rookie of the Year from the California Journal
  • Crystal Apple Award from the American Library Association (1999)
  • Inspirational Leader Award from Kidango
  • Distinguished Alumna Award from UC Santa Barbara (1997)
  • UC Davis Medal (2015)

Eastin Bio authored by Sydney Lewis