We Need an Education Governor

In a few weeks it will be 20 years since the Loma Prieta earthquake that rocked the Bay Area at 5:04 P.M. on Oct. 17, 1989. Tragically sixty-three people were killed on that fateful day, however the infrastructure damage done by the shaking has been repaired, even better than before. The Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco was hit hard by the quake, yet it is a prime example how beautiful things can arise to benefit all people when there is strong will paired with bold and visionary leadership. I hope it can be the same for public education, if not we should all be very, very worried about our collective future.

On Sept. 17, 2009 I was fortunate to attend Leadership California-Projections 2010 produced by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group with funding from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The seven subjects discussed in each of the panels during the five-hour seminar included: environment, energy, education, transportation, housing, health care, and taxation.

Four of five gubernatorial candidates were present and participated in one of the four topical panels: Steve Poizner, Jerry Brown, Tom Campbell, and Gavin Newsom. If not Meg Whitman then one of these four men will lead California after his/her swearing-in ceremony in November 2010.

We need a governor that understands the enormity of the educational crisis we are in, the achievement gap being one of the most critical problems to solve.

There were 17 panelists including the four gubernatorial candidates and five other speakers through the morning. Sadly, at least from my observation, there was not one panelist that was Latino/Hispanic, a huge oversight from my perspective. Most of the very impressive list of panelists were CEO’s of Silicon Valley businesses: Webcor (Andy Ball), Marvel Semiconductor (Sehat Sutardja), SpikeSource (Kim Polese), Palm (Former CEO Ed Colligan), MetricStream (Shellye Archambeau), to name a few. They were all effusive about the incredible area in which we live and work. There appeared to be consensus on calling this Valley the best place on the planet to live and raise a family. I was proud to be a resident.

Each panel dealing with different subjects, detailed above, all mentioned something about the importance of education to keep our valley at the forefront of innovation.  Ed Colligan said, “Silicon Valley is the most extraordinary place to live on this planet, but we are screwing it up as we watch education crumble K-University.” He gets it. Aart de Geus CEO, Synopsis mentioned that we must put teachers and education on a pedestal. He said. “Teachers are the brain surgeons for our children…they must be respected.” CEO de Geus also asserted that school systems are inefficient, therefore we need a massive re-look at their efficiency. He gets it. Shellye Archambeau affirmed that the Pre-K to University destruction is a long-term threat to our survival…need to fix educational system soon. She gets it. Tom Campbell said he supports private school vouchers to the 1-2% lowest performing public schools. He doesn’t get it.

Gavin Newsom said, “Dropouts are the #1 problem, we need transformational change.” He gets it.  Many panelists told the audience that the rest of the world is putting a premium on education, but the United States is not. California will be 1,000,000 bachelors’ degrees short for our workforce by 2025. CEO de Geus stressed that higher education is the shortest pipeline to change the system positively. He said education is the #1 investment for the highest rate of return.

I wonder if 20 years from now we will be looking back talking about the “big” one that rocked the state in 2009 causing so much devastation we did not recover.  I am not referring to another 7.0+ Richter Scale earthquake, but rather the “big” one is the inexcusable damage caused by the state budget crisis and the slashing of funding to P-16 (preschool – University) education.

For the record I think Poizner and Brown get it too, but my energy will be going to help get Gavin Newsom elected as the next governor, for he has a newborn to worry about.

When Montana Newsom enters public school five years from now the system of public education in California must be funded stably, teachers must be receiving performance pay, quality universal preschool for all must be the norm, math and science education must be tops in the nation, every third grader must read and write on grade level (based on international norms) and we have increased state funding to levels that significantly exceed 2007-08 for the Community College, CSU and UC system, particularly in teacher pre-service training. With bold and courageous visionary leadership we landed a man on the moon in less than a decade. A world class P-16 Education system is our new frontier. Nothing less than the best for all our children will do. It is for our survival.

When Montana Newsom is taking California History as an elective in high school she might learn about university furlough days in 2009-2010. Her teacher tells her in 2009 the public education system was near collapse and the leaders of the time buried their head in the sand rather than faced the problem head-on. If it was not for the courageous work done by your father and the 2011-2012 California Legislature our Golden State might have not survived. Education and innovation are the keys to our future. Let’s all step up to the plate and protect our future.

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.

41 Comments

  1. I understand that these people “get it”, but the problem is that their children or future children probably will not have to deal with the issues. Montana Newsom will most likely not be going to public school K-12 and most likely will not be going to a public university either. Although the UCLA and UC Berkley rank up with Ivy Leagues, so she might. Politicians are worried about getting re-allected which means that they say what it takes to get there, but whether they actually do what they say they are going to do is another matter. I personally think that it is a crime to budget cut from eduaction, while spending in other places, but if you look at what budget cutting is doing, it is actually reseperating the classes. Rich can afford to go to private, they might not be smart, they might be drug addicts, but their parents can pull string and pay their childs way through school. Then they will set them up in a job with their own company or a family friends company, and that child is set for life, unless he truelly screws up. Then there are middle class families. Mine is a prime example. I went to some private for K-8 then public for high school. I worked very hard, got into UCSD and went, graduated and had to try to find a job with no connections. Let me say it is all about connections, anyone will tell you that. Luckily I want to be a teacher, but my friends are struggeling out there. Then there are the families that hae to go to public school, and their home life is crap and their school might be nice (say Homestead High), but they have no money for college, and can not see themselves getting into college anyway, so they maybe graduate then start working. This is just a general overview, and there are always exceptions, but taking money out of education is making a nice working class for the rich. It might actually benifit the people in government to keep people down. That way they are not educated enough to know thier own rights, and they just suck up everything that elected officials say because they do not know any better. I really hope that education is reformed because there is so much potential in human beings, and it would take reforming to have people reach their full potential.

    • Regarding your comment, “it might actually benefit the people in government to keep people down…” sometimes my friends and I sometimes joke about this and say this is exactly what is going on.  The government is not helping the education system so that we don’t question them.  We remain ignorant, dumb and niave.  I don’t actually believe this, but sometimes, things seem so bad, you can’t help but wonder…
      And you are right, their is so much potential in people, but it takes a good educational system to help people realize that and get the confidence to even try to make something of themselves.  Even if they don’t have the money to go to college on their own, there are ways, but we need reform to help more kids reach that goal!

  2. Just about everyone has felt “the big one” this year. It has, no doubt, wreaked havoc just about everywhere, in the economy, community, at work, at home, at school… With the slashing of school funding, students are faced with much more than just fewer classes to choose from. There is also a significant increase in student tuition, meaning students are paying more for less. It always bothers me that state funding for school is always among the first to be cut. No matter when or where, young students are our upcoming future. They will be the new leaders in our society, not us. They are the ones who will use what we give them to continue building and expanding our nation. They are our legacies. Shouldn’t we give them the best we can offer?
    I can’t quite remember where I read this, but it had mentioned that as we are becoming a more high-tech and fast-paced society, because of our poor education system, we now have fewer and fewer people qualified to work within our complex society. Does this not make you slightly nervous? I believe investing in our young students should be a state priority. Our education system is not the only thing depending on state funding. Our young students, as well, are relying on sufficient funding to receive quality education so they, too, in the future can be just as successful as we have been. It’s about time we start putting our education at the front of the line.

  3. Joseph,

    I have lost all respect for you – you support Newsom as a result of what he claims is his opinion on this issue.  First, it’s only one issue of many we face in this State and this Country.  Second, Newsom doesn’t give a whit about anything but achieving his political aspirations.  Oh well, I’m wasting my breath here.

  4. It was interesting to see some of the possible governor’s views on educations and how some get it and some don’t.  Education is in big trouble right now and that is scary as a future teacher.  It will be interesting to see what our new governor does with the education crisis.  Gavin Newsom definitely seems like he has some good ideas and I hope to hear more about his ideas on education.

    • Agreed, it is scary to be in the process of becoming a teacher & seeing the value of education going down.  It is pretty bad now, so I cannot imagine what the future has in store.

      • I could not agree more with this statement. It is hard to want to go through the process knowing the difficult task we have ahead and it is also hard to see that others are not caring as much about education. It is hard and it is scarey because education gets everyone to advance wit their futures. It is hard to say that there should be cuts in education and activities because this is what allows students and children to excel with their futures.

  5. Nearly half of California’s state budget goes towards education.  That’s $ 50 billion, with a “B”.  So its no surprise to see hefty educational cuts being made when the State finds itself in financial crisis. Its the logical place to pull funds from as it is the single largest piece of the budgetary pie.  For those of us hoping to become educators, the ramifications of these cuts are ominous.  Larger class sizes, diminished resources and substandard pay will continue until to drag on until leaders with vision and political will recognize the damage being done. 
        Education, as an institution, means different things to different people.  Many assume that schools are entrenched enough that they can handle budget cuts with little duress.  Others don’t really care as they don’t have children in the schools.  So the question becomes, how do we make education a priority at a time when everyone is struggling?  Statistical data isn’t enough.  We need to help people understand the linkage between education and a healthy prosperous society. Explain how increased drop-out rates will lead to more crime requiring additional taxes for jails and prisons.  Less education will lead to less innovation, and a loss of jobs.  Without effective education, America will no longer prosper, leading to problems we can’t even imagine.  Its time for a wake-up call.

    • Totally agree Chris! It is PAST time for a wake-up call. Education is the base for a prosperous and fulfilling society, and at the rate it is going now students of ALL ages are affected. Not only are we college students and professors facing mandatory furlough days on top of student fee increases and salary cuts, but the youth are feeling it as well. Numerous programs are being cut from elementary, middle, and high schools and it is not fair. It is definetely time for a change, and hopefully the new governor in November (whoever it may be) will see and understand these issues and will make strides to begin to fix our education system.

    • I completely agree with you, Chris, on how education relates to a society as a whole. If you want to live in a better society, invest in better education for all. Education plays an important role in facilitating the growth of individuals. The government needs to step up and do what is best for the children, our future leaders. Also, we as a individuals need to work together to make a change. We have to be the change that we want to see in the world.

    • Chris has struck a nerve on the crux of the issue, and I’d like to look at some of the genesis of it in recent history, then comment on Joe’s article. The passing of Proposition 13 in 1978 was a turning point in California economically. The measure heavily favors property owners and decimated citizen stewardship for the regional infrastructure.

      At the time the proposition passed there were a number of issues that were valid arguments to make it a viable law. That along with the fact that most people who vote are/were educated property-owners. Wikipedia has an excellent article with a background note which follows:

      “Proposition 13 drew its impetus from 1971 and 1976 California Supreme Court rulings in Serrano v. Priest,Serrano[›] that a property-tax based finance system for public schools was unconstitutional. The California Constitution required the legislature to provide a free public school system for each district, and the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (which includes the Equal Protection Clause) required all states provide to all citizens equal protection of the law. The court ruled that the amount of funding going to different districts was disproportionately favoring the wealthy.”

      Check out the Wikipedia article for further interesting reasons that this law was proposed at the right time and place to pass. However, now is a good time to reevaluate some aspects of the law in light of the financial crisis California is in. Due to time and space constraints I won’t get into it in this forum, but I will say that I highly doubt the families who are in the worst financial crisis now had any say in the passing of Prop. 13.

      Something that really sent up a warning flag for me was a comment Gavin Newsome made about school truancy. While Mr. Newsome’s intentions are well-meant, I’m sure, his notion is more of a prevention than cure, as the bottom line for our education woes is financial at its root.

  6. Every public school in California should have the same high standards, resources, and quality that any politician, Republican, Democrat, or other would be happy to send his or her child to any one of them. Just as the public health care option should be something they all want to sign up for. It would surely make them think twice about what they expect the rest of the public to settle for if they were required to practice what they preach.

  7. It was very interesting to hear what the candidates for governor have to say on education.  I look forward to seeing how the new governor handles the education crisis in the future.

  8. I’ve never understood why education is so undervalued in this country. Providing proper education is one of the most fundamental principles for enabling progression in the future. While I firmly believe that our whole nation could benefit from a better understanding of education’s value, California in particular has some work to do (read furloughs, budget cuts, teacher layoffs). According to the Smartest State Award, California ranks 47th out 50, which, for lack of a better word, is pathetic. When we undervalue education what kind of message are we sending to our youth? As educators, how do we expect to instill a lifelong love for learning in children when clearly many in our society don’t fully understand education’s value?

  9. I am happy that many of the panelist “get it” regarding the issues in education, however, it is difficult to say that great change will come as soon as someone new is elected.  Furthermore, many of these politicans do lack the understanding of how critical these issues have become and only know about the current issues because that is what they have been told.  A person can’t say that they know what teachers need, until they have been a teacher and experienced what it is like.  My opinion is based on the fact that these wealthy, well educated panelist know enough not to send their children to public schools, but they still don’t know how to fix any problems.  It is a lot for one person to take on to change how Californians value education.

    • At least Newsom has done something about it in San Francisco.  When the state cut money from schools and the SF School District sent out pink slips to lay off teachers, the SF Board of Supervisors, led by Mayor Newsom, dug into San Francisco’s reserves and bailed out the school district.  He does get the importance of education and the devastating effects of budget cuts and reduction of school staff.  And he has put his money where his mouth is on the issue.

  10. It is true that California is experiencing myriad difficulties relating to budgetary matters and state governance.  California needs a governor who values education.  However, California also needs a governor with a sound understanding of economics, proven success and knowledge of public and private sectors, and perhaps some integrity.  Due to the residual impact that positive or negative educational legislation can precipitate, most Californians can probably agree that something must be done.  As an employee of the California public school system, I agree that something must be done as well.  The question though is how to arrive at that supernal answer.  This question regarding educational decisions will surely be at the center of discussion, debate, and argument for the next year until the gubernatorial election of the great state of California. 
    May I state that I have not yet made a selection with respect to any of the candidates for this vital position in California politics, but I have followed some of their political careers.  For the most part, many of these candidates are well-qualified and could present California with a multitude of skills, perspectives, and experience.  I do not believe that some of them get it while others do not.  The question is the way in which they get it.  For example Jerry Brown possesses a long history of work in California along with a prestigious education.  Whether one agrees with his politics or not, there is no doubt of his capacity and even more importantly, no one will be surprised with what he brings to the office.  Tom Campbell, although not the biggest hero in this part of California, definitely has the education (University of Chicago and Harvard Law School) to understand the political climate in California along with the education system.  Once again, there are probably many who disagree with his politics, but that should discredit neither experience nor record.  Being that California is such a large state replete with citizens all over the political spectrum, I am hopeful that we, as a state, will be able to elect a non-divisive figure to lead all Californians for the next four to eight years.  Oh, and one more thing.  Call me old-fashioned, but a little integrity in a politician might be a nice change of pace in comparison with what we have become accustomed to in California and the United States.

  11. Living in Silicon Valley is supposed to be the “best place to raise you kid.” It is a lot like attending school in California… less for more. I joke, but really students are getting less and paying more for it. We pay a premium to live where we do, yet we have a very poor educational system, the whole US does. Living in such proximity to the software companies, they should ‘represent’ themselves in the classrooms and donate software to the schools so we can get more for less. The state does not have the budget to do that and I am sure the software companies can. We should collaborate together as a society to make education more worth while and to the standard it should be at. The kids are our future. I think the five year projection sounds great, universal preschool and students in third grade writing at grade level, which would adress the achievement gap problem. When subbing, I was amazed at how VERY different the levels of learning were in the classroom. It leaves the teacher to accomodate to so many different levels of learning the kids in the classrooms are at. I dont think this is considered efficiency to affirm the CEO de Geus’ point.

  12. Many politicians “get it.”  But, what is more vital to education is will they solve it.  Without a doubt California is in a crisis, especially our education system.  We need to stop talking about the crisis and begin fixing it.  There is so much to be done I feel that the politicians are struggling to figure out a starting point.  I say we start with the candidates trying to obtain a teaching credential.  We should have a better/more consistent training program for credential candidates, ensure the candidates know what a career in teaching will be like (improve retention), and recruit top talent to the field.  If the politicians take action, even a small step, towards improving education then we will know they truly “get it” and we will solve it.

  13. It baffles me that California has a top-ranked economy, yet education in the state suffers immensely.  Although I am no expert on the subject, I think there is much to be learned from the public education systems in many European countries.
    I cite Austria as an example because I lived there for a year and a half.  For an Austrian to study at a university in Austria costs nothing.  There are no tuition fees, meaning that anybody who wants to get a degree has the opportunity to do so.  People in Europe are always baffled when they hear how much individuals pay for college in the United States.  College in Austria does not cost less than in the U.S., however, it is supported and funded entirely by the general population.  In Austria, people are more willing to invest in the greater good of the country, which makes many services, particularly education more accessible.
    I am by no means saying that Austria has a perfect school system because this is not the case.  They too have major issues that must be dealt with and resolved.  Yet, I continue to feel that there is something that can be learned from Austria’s system, as well as those in other countries around the world.

    • At the sixth grade in Salzburg, Austria, I took a tough lengthy exam trying to gain acceptance into Realgymnasium, an upper level high school that leads to college/university admission .  Unlike here in Calif. where every kid is allowed into some kind of public higher education in Austria only the best were allowed to advance. I barely got in. It would be difficult for those left behind to get into the post secondary education sphere. 
      However, others were provided high school education leading to practical skills such as secretarical, sales person, domestic help, restaurant, drivers, etc.  Other non-professional skills such as machinist, baker, brewers, cooks, technicians, electricians, automotive, were also thought the basics with much additional time as apprentices in factories and other work environments to become “masters” of their craft. A much more regimental approach than practiced here in the States.  Only a small portion of population was allowed to attend “free” university.

      Since we don’t seem to educate enough engineers, circuit designers, mathematicians, top programmers, etc. to fill Silicon Valley’s demand for such professionals to keep our hi-tech businesses going full blast.  Maybe opening a simple “youth hostel” here in Silicon Valley could help capture some of the highly educated and skilled young international travelers that only stay in inexpensive hostels.  I suspect many visitors enjoy our relatively easy-going egalitarian friendly lifestyle and would want to obtain a work visa to start their careers in our area. 

      With 57 million square feet of vacant commercial space in Silicon Valley, it’s the right time to open the first urban hostel in Santa Clara County to provide clean friendly inexpensive tourist accommodation which are currently lacking.

      A marketing collaboration between some local hi-tech business such as Intel, Google, Yahoo, HP, Apple, IBM, Cisco, etc. and non-profit Hostelling International group would be a win-win situation for everybody.

      pgp3 of Surf City, USA

      PS.  Personally I’m sick and tired of putting up Santa Clara County residents at our fine Santa Cruz Hostel located at the historic Carmelita Cottages atop Beach Hill, close to Main Beach, the Wharf, Steamer Lane and Boardwalk and also Downtown, for a measly $25/bed when there are no year-round hostels available in Santa Clara County where I could find a decent night’s sleep for little money.

  14. I agree reform is needed. We are in crisis. Deep, sweeping reform is needed. I am glad most candidates think so too. But I wonder how they plan to go about it. The achievment gap is our biggest concern. But I still feel that it is tied to our school funding gap. Our students are not on a level playing field. Do they get that?

  15. Unfortunately Alicia is right, Montana Newsom probably will never be going to a California public school, and so will never experience what our public education system is going through.  It has been quite an interesting year, for teachers and for students (not to mention the other state employees).  I agree that the CA public education system needs an over-haul.  I don’t know a lot about Gavin Newsom and so I don’t feel like I can say if I would support him for governor or not, but from what I can see, things with our current governor are not going too well.  I am curious to see what the future will bring as new people come into power.

  16. I agree with DiSalvo that “[w]e need a governor that understands the enormity of the educational crisis we are in.”

    I also think we need parents and the community at large to understand the problems with California’s education system. We need business people and politicians to understand and care too.

    When the people with the power to make policy and budgetary changes concerning education does try to make a change, all of us (people of California)need to be informed and concerned enough to support (or not) such action.

    I think more people need to understand and care for a change to occur.

  17. Obviously, the candidates for California state governor can talk the talk, but can they actually walk the walk? Our priorities in our state are so mixed up, it seems like improving education is on the very bottom of our list of things to get done instead of being on the top. I don’t know too much about San Francisco’s mayor Gavin Newsom, but I’m positive he and his beautiful wife will not send their daughter Montana to one of San Francisco’s many public schools. Whoever takes on the role as our next governor is going to be handed a bag full of dilemmas and one of the first things he or she needs to tackle is getting our K-12 portion of our education back on the right track. Investing in our youth and in the teachers who work with them should be our number one priority since these kids are the future members of our society.

  18. Like many of you have already stated, we put off improving California’s education for so long. It seems from this blog that Newsome has a goal to make this a focus if he is governor. But doesn’t every politician running for office swear they will improve our education, and then the day comes when they can and they pass it up to spend the money in other places. I feel like the issues in our education will take a long time to get fixed because we are stuck in cycle. The economy being the way it is causes the cycle to be more of a problem, because let’s be honest, we need money to fix so many of the struggling schools.

    And when we get a Governor who can break the cycle, he still has No Child Left Behind in his way. Unless the Federal Government gets rid of that, the education throughout the U.S. will only be able to improve to a point.

    This seems to be just a negative response, but I feel our education has so many gaps, and it seems impossible to fix. One thing that we can do, is be wonderful teachers. We can be great teachers in a system that is struggling, and we can help give the students the education, encouragement, goals, and excitement for school that they are needing.

  19. I feel like we have been throwing money in the wrong direction.  Our society should be built upon the education system.  Our educational system should be viewed like the foundations of a house.  We need to build a strong foundation.  We keep trying to fix things on the top level (the walls and the roof; how can you build a roof without a foundation or walls?).  Going back to the drop out rates, once those people drop out of school, what happens to them? A lot of them end up in gangs, or doing drugs, or in a low-end job (not everybody who drops out ends up in those predicaments) etc.  None of this helps society or our communities.  We are trying to fix these problems once they have already happened.  We need to focus on the foundation, our education system, so that we can prevent these issues from happening. 
    We need someone who can support our teachers and students better and having someone who is directly invested (i.e. through their kids) may help.
    As Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It may take some time, but if we can work on our education system and work on fixing the problems on that end then maybe we won’t have to throw money at problems that have resulted from its failures.

  20. As a state college student I’m already sick of paying more for less.  If we don’t right this wrong quickly, this will become the norm in California and the entire U.S.  Elena you put it perfectly – we need to work from the ground floor up and reform our education system to meet the needs of our diversified state and its children.  I look forward to a governor who has the ability to change the future of education in our state.

  21. I hope Newsom would fight for what he preaches. I agree with Alicia that Newsom won’t worry too much about his own child’s education because if he is elected, Montana would have private education. I do think teachers are the brain surgeons for our children and I wish the people who don’t realize that would! I think cuts backs are horrible and depressing. I do agree that investing in education should be state priority. I have worked with a lot of children as a substitute and there are a lot of children who still can not read and write English in 3 and 4th grade! Education is important! The whole economy is in desperate need of help.

    • He has fought for what he preaches in San Francisco.  See my response to Kathryn Finneran’s comment above.

  22. I completely agree with the statement “Teachers are the brain surgeons for our children…they must be respected.” I have worked with children since I was old enough to have a job. When I finally decided to obtain my credential after working at a private school people always asked me why. Why do you want to teach, why would you get into the education field? Others always told me don’t do it, stay away from education. Well obviously I didn’t listen to these indivituals. I love working with childre, they are our future. I feel valued when I support a child and make a difference in their lives. Sometiems teachers are the only support system children have and that alone makes me value what I do and want to get up every morning and come to student teaching. Every child deserves at least one great teacher in their life time and that is the answer for all those individuals who asked me WHY!!!!!

  23. I completely agree with the statement “Teachers are the brain surgeons for our children…they must be respected.” I have worked with children since I was old enough to have a job. When I finally decided to obtain my credential after working at a private school people always asked me why. Why do you want to teach, why would you get into the education field? Others always told me don’t do it, stay away from education. Well obviously I didn’t listen to these individuals. I love working with children, they are our future. I feel valued when I support a child and make a difference in their lives. Sometimes teachers are the only support system children have and that alone makes me value what I do and want to get up every morning and come to student teaching. Every child deserves at least one great teacher in their life time and that is the answer for all those individuals who asked me WHY!!!!!

  24. It is amazing to me that our education is looked at highly but we are falling behind other countries.  Other countries have school systems that have longer days and more of them.  We are falling out of touch with what is important.  We should focus in on the problems in the schools and try to fix them. Possibly rework the budget so the education system does not suffer.  It is scary to think that the “big” one might be coming.

  25. As much as it is good to hear that these prominent politicians and business figures are in agreement that our public system is in need of reform, I think it is dangerous to let them lead on this issue.  They talk to it now only because the issue has taken the spot light as a result of the budget crisis and so everyone has a lot to say about the real obvious. We should however be listening to what teachers,students,education experts, parents and school administrators have to say about the issues.  They are the ones that really understand the issues and can effectively pose and examine solutions which should be backed by politians and business leaders.  Who ever the next governor is needs to really listen to those in the field.

  26. I am not sure Gavin Newsom gets it. He thinks that dropouts are the biggest issue in education? Who told him that? The more important issue in education is why those kids are dropping out. Kids are dropping out because they don’t speak English and there are no institutional programs to help them. Kids are dropping out because their teachers are burned out from trying to go it alone after budget cuts took away resource teachers. Kids are dropping out because they are “worth” several thousand dollars less per day than their counterparts in rich neighborhoods and they can’t go on field trips or study art or study music or study woodworking. Kids drop out because their school facilities are unlivable. Kids drop out because when education funding gets cut they get the message that school is unimportant. Budget cuts at the college level mean that community colleges are overcrowded and CSU’s are becoming more exclusive. Kids who once had the opportunity to change their lives by continuing in higher education can’t afford rising costs and may not have the curriculum or grades required for admission. Someone mentioned that some of our UCs are ranked among Ivy League schools. If our public universities are as exclusive as the notorious Ivies, where are the kids who attended overcrowded, underfunded, and uninspiring high schools supposed to go?

    Dropout rates are an easily quotable statistic, but they don’t get at the heart of the problem. That is to say, dropout rates are a symptom, not the disease. Gavin Newsom’s position shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the school system works. I sincerely hope there is a candidate in the running who understands education and will put a premium on it.

  27. I have to agree with Natasha on this one.  These polititcians are making this the forefront issue, but where have they been?  They have to talk about it now, it is part of their job.  It is a major crisis, but will they really be affected if things dont change?  No, their kids probably arent going to public school and never will, so they dont see the true problems and have a vested interest in fixing them.

  28. Since there was a lot talked about this time around, I would just like to point out that trying to better our educational system isn’t about just ‘getting it’ it’s about reaching out and making it mandatory for parents, teachers and students to be on the same page. If parents were forced to take part in what goes on at their local (public) school, it might finally hit them to take a stance and do something about their childs situation. When parents get involved, children see that what they are doing actually matters and has relevance. Many kids go to school as part of their routine; wake up, go to school, come home, eat snack, do homework, watch tv and sleep. We need to make kids and their schooling more interesting to keep kids from dropping out and becoming one of the (not so appealing) statistics.

    I agree that change needs to be drastic and it needs to start now. I believe change needs to happen in the home as well.

  29. After reading DiSalvo’s article and the comments from tomorrow’s teachers, I’m not sure I hold out much hope for California’s education system either.

    Alicia Chapman- “I personally think that it is a crime to budget cut from education…”

    Erika Kao- “Our young students are relying on sufficient funding to receive quality education”

    Edana Conlon- “Education is in big trouble now and that is scary as a future teacher”

    Melissa Eisenberg- “Agreed, it is scary to be in the process of becoming a teacher and seeing the value of education going down”

    Chris Patterson- “For those of us hoping to become educators, the ramifications of these cuts are ominous”
    Rebecca Neves- “Totally agreed, Chris!”
    Erin Fajardo- “I completely agree with you Chris”

    Kaela Mulvaney- As educators, how do we expect to instill a lifelong love for learning in children when clearly many in our society don’t fully understand education’s value?”

    Meg Stevens- “Kids drop out because when education funding gets cut they get the message that school is unimportant”

    It’s disturbing that these young people have been instilled with the notion that their ability to succeed is dependent on things that are beyond their control.
    DiSalvo does his students and the public a grave disservice by emphasizing politics and inciting this sort of a mindset.
    Instead of arming them with excuses to fail, he, and all other teachers should instead be emphasizing the tremendous potential that each of his students have to be great teachers and enrich children’s lives no matter what is happening in Sacramento or Washington.
    Be skeptical of the DiSalvo’s of the world. You want to be a great teacher? Then BE a great teacher. There’s NOTHING stopping you.