By Joseph Di Salvo
California spends a lot of money on education—more than $65 billion from all funding sources in 2007-08 for K-12. Yet nearly 40 percent of Latino youth and African-American youth drop out of school prior to high school graduation. Silicon Valley’s drop-out numbers are a little higher than the state average. How disdainful is this in the land of the wealthiest and most educated people on the planet?
I was fortunate enough to win a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education in the incredibly historic Nov. 4 election. From the moment I am sworn in tomorrow, I will represent San Jose Unified and Orchard School Districts in Trustee Area 4, encompassing North San Jose, Willow Glen and Almaden Valley. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously.
I was invited by the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) to take the former trustee’s place at the 77th Annual California School Board’s Conference in San Diego this past week. I am actually writing this first post from my room in the Marriott Harbor Hotel. As a rookie Board Member, not yet sworn in, I was all ears. Over 48 hours, I attended keynotes and workshops, and talked with a myriad of Santa Clara County superintendents, board members, and others.
What I learned confirmed my belief that what matters most is the quality of teachers and the leadership in each classroom and school.
During my campaign for school board I talked at coffee-gatherings and took every opportunity to attend forums, endorsement meetings and the like. Even just plain old door-to-door canvassing, I discussed the importance of raising the stature of the teaching profession in the public eye.
San Jose Inside has given me an opportunity to bring the issue of public education to the forefront of our community conversation with a weekly column that will appear here every Tuesday. I want this blog-post to begin a critical dialogue about educational topics that affect the quality of our lives in Silicon Valley.
I hope to hear from students, teachers, administrators, parents, school board members, legislators, business leaders, and interested citizens about the educational concerns that impact us in San Jose and surrounding communities. From my lens there is no more important issue than public education and equity for all children within its reaches.
Joseph Di Salvo is adjunct professor at Santa Clara University and National University’s Graduate Schools of Education. During a 33-year public school career, he served as a teacher, principal, union president, and executive administrator. A lifetime resident of San Jose, he attended St. Joseph’s Grammar School, Bellarmine College Preparatory and San Jose State University.