During the past century women have made a variety of contributions in the political arena, serving in local, state, national, and international governments. McKay alumna Marian Bergeson was the first woman to serve in both the California State Assembly and the California State Senate.
Bergeson graduated from the College of Education in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. After graduation Bergeson taught in the Provo School District before moving to California to teach in the Santa Monica School District.
In California Bergeson started her career in politics. She was president of the California School Boards Association, which led her to become involved in education issues at the State Capitol. When a seat opened up in the State Assembly in 1976, Bergeson was encouraged to run. “I was a long shot at that time because I was a woman,” Bergeson said, “but I prevailed.”
Since then Bergeson has been elected to the California State Assembly and the California State Senate. She was also elected lieutenant governor of California and Orange County supervisor. Additionally, she was appointed to the California State Board of Education and served as California Secretary of Education.
With such extensive experience, Bergeson has a lot of knowledge on how educators can work with the government to improve their classrooms. Here are some of her thoughts on education.
“Teachers should use creative efforts to determine what works for their students and then build coalitions around the best practices. Teachers can also promote the best practices by advocating through associations or directly with legislators and staff. Most legislators have staff devoted to education policy.”
“Staff development for teachers is an important component that needs funding support.”
“Education practices are changing rapidly with the application of new technology and with greater expectations for student achievement.”
“Education is and will be the basis for economic growth on an international basis. In our rush for science, math, and new technologies, it is important that we not neglect the values and responsibilities for citizenship. The arts and culture that we leave for future generations should also be important factors. Schools will not look the same as technology advances; however, personal interaction and engagement must not be overlooked as we move into this new digitalized environment.”
From teacher to successful politician, Bergeson has gained a lot of knowledge and experience, which has all been built upon the foundation she was able to create at BYU. “Understanding the needs of children is the basis of my motivation to follow a career with a core interest in education,” Bergeson said. “That basis was established with my training at BYU’s college of education.
Marian and her husband, Garth, currently reside in Newport Beach, California. Marian is the mother of four children and the grandmother of 11, three of whom are attending BYU.