Read This, and Thank a Teacher

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.

 

Joseph Di Salvo is a member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native. His columns reflect his personal opinion.

9 Comments

  1. I believe that a child’s education is the responsibilty of the student and the parents.
    The teachers and the schools are there to help. I think that a strong motivational speech to the parents as a child enters kindergarten to explain what their role is
    would be a big help.  And mandatory parent meetings throughout the year should be imposed. Too many parents just enroll their children in a school and expect the school to
    educate them.  Major mistake….
    Just as a child’s health and well being is the parents responsibilty, so is their education.

  2. “Yet nearly 40 percent of Latino youth and African-American youth drop out of school prior to high school graduation.”

    I wonder what the drop-out rate is for the American Indian, Asian American, and white American youth is. Aren’t there five principal demographics in our county schools?

  3. School Board members are as responsible as administrators.  This is important to remember.  Alberto Gonzalez showed how much a community based candidate can do to achieve public support.  It is too bad some of his opponetns in Santa Clara want to brush people off.  School board members who work with the community always get community respect, and the ones who don’t and do questionable fund raising, well there are four letters, FPPC.

  4. Joseph,
    I am deeply concerned about the possibility of the children’s lunch program being cut. For many children, this is the only meal they get everyday. What, if anything can we as citizens do to help make sure that that this cut doesn’t happen?
    Secondly, is there an adopt a family for the holidays program?

  5. Joe,

    Napper is correct; in fact, I’d go one step further and say that “… what matters most is the quality of…” parents.  Merely dropping one’s children off at school does not constitute good parental participation. 

    And throwing more and more money at schools accompanied by blaming teachers just doesn’t hold water.

    I hope that you understand this and can make a difference in the future.

  6. Mr. Di Salvo informed us:“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.”

    The conclusion I draw from those facts is that throwing money at it does not solve the “problem” of high drop out rates by hispanics and blacks.

    You’d probably have a higher graduation rate if you made a rule that no-one without a high school diploma or GED could collect welfare…ever.

    On another note, does Santa Clara County Board of Education do?  Is it merely another layer of bureaucracy in a highly fractured educational “system” that seems laden with administrators and bureaucrats at a time when the kids have no pencils or books?  nd why is there a need for another bureaucrat like yourself, Mr. Di Salvo to oversee the bureaucrats at separate school districts ( I will represent San Jose Unified and Orchard School Districts in Trustee Area 4, encompassing North San Jose, Willow Glen and Almaden Valley.)?  Don’t they have enough six-figure bureaucrats to do the job?

    And I hope you had a good time in San Diego @ the Marriott Harbor Hotel.  Who picked up that tab for you and all the other bureaucrats who attended? How many pencils and books would the money spent on your collective junket have provided to our kids?

    And people wonder why our state is going bankrupt!! Jeez!!!!!!!!

  7. JMO said, “The conclusion I draw from those facts is that throwing money at it does not solve the “problem” of high drop out rates by hispanics and blacks.

    You’d probably have a higher graduation rate if you made a rule that no-one without a high school diploma or GED could collect welfare…ever.”

    JMO, I can’t believe you said something that ignorant.

  8. REALLY, Kathleen?!  We’ve been throwing gobs of money at education for decades, since at least The Great Society at the federal level, and yet the drop out rate is higher.  Take off the rose colored galsses, girl.

  9. #8-JMO,
    I think you are the one who needs to expand your education on the topic. There’s been a new wave of hard working people applying for assistance, and according to the media, it is happening at a rate never before heard of since the depression. Do you have any idea how many college educated people have lost their jobs and homes in the past year and a half? Many of these folks have ended up applying for food stamps, Medical, and financial assistance because their unemployment has run out. As TAX PAYERS who paid into this system for decades, they have every right to take advantage of these programs.
      I think you need to rethink your concept of what exactly “Welfare” is because it is a new day JMO. Not everyone is as fortunate as you are to have the luxury of sitting back in a financially secure life, judging something you know nothing about from first hand experience.