The first California State Constitution required the State Legislature to provide for the election of a Superintendent of
Public Instruction by the people (Const. 1849, Art. IX, Sec. I). In 1851 the Legislature passed a law which provided for the Superintendent's election and which described
his powers and duties (Stats. 1851, ch. 126). In 1852 the Superintendent was designated a member of the State Board of Education to act as the Board's secretary
and executive officer (Stats. 1852, ch. 53). The law creating the State Department of Education included a section to make the Superintendent of Public
Instruction the Director of Education and vested in him all the executive and administrative functions of the Department.
California's 1849 Constitution provided for the election of a state Superintendent of Public Instruction and for a system
of common schools. Supervision of California's educational system was carried out by the State Board of Education with the
Superintendent of Public Instruction acting as its executive officer. The first foundations of a State Department of Education
were laid in 1913 when the Legislature provided for the appointment of three commissioners (in elementary, secondary, and
vocational education) to assist the Superintendent (Stats. 1913, ch. 694). An official Department of Education was created by law in 1921 succeeding to the powers and duties of the
State Board of Education (Stats. 1921, ch. 605). The State Board continued on as a governing body with the Superintendent acting as Director of Education.
Initially the Department included Divisions of Elementary Schools, Secondary Schools, Physical Education, Normal and Special
Schools, Immigrant Education, Statistics, Credentials, Attendance, and a Legal Division.
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