It has been an honor for me to serve on the Board of Education for the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Sometimes it’s been rewarding, other times frustrating, but never boring.
There were several areas in particular I was hoping to have an impact in a small yet meaningful way, as a part-time elected representative to Trustee Area # 4 (San Jose Unified, Orchard and part of East Side Union School Districts). I have served officially since December 2008.
Here is my self-assessment, knowing full well any issue I might want to work on needs at least three other board members to agree:
1. Elimination of Bullying behavior from schools — PASS. Former vice mayor of San Jose Judy Chirco has been chairing a task force that I commissioned as president of the Board. The task force instructed to find steps the SCCOE can take to make the reduction of bullying in all forms a priority. Chirco is scheduled to appear before the Board Oct. 19 alongside her task force members with a short list of recommendations.
2. Career Technical and Vocational Education — PASS. Due to the convergence of my interest in this area for expansion and the leadership by Superintendent Charles Weis and Deputy Cary Dritz, I have done little but observe that the county office is providing strong leadership in the area of Career Technical Education throughout Silicon Valley. With a stronger investment by the state and local officials, more can be done, especially in middle school. This area requires significant investment.
3. Quality Alternative Education Schools for incarcerated and community school youth — PASS. More work needs to be done, but success is closer than it was in 2009. A West Ed report recommending seven areas for improvement was officially presented to the Board in January 2011. This is still a work in progress. There will be more to come in a report to the Board in October.
4. Reinvigoration in Civics Education — FAIL. I have written about this in my columns on SJI, but I have done little else to promote an area of content I feel is vital to maintain a vibrant democracy.
5. Quality Special Education Schools — FAIL. As a Board, we have paid enormous time and attention to alternative education, neglecting the area that has the lion share of our annual budget: special education. In November, we will finally have a comprehensive report given to the Board by staff highlighting the schools, students, staff and issues that exist, as well as positive areas of growth for us to consider. This meeting will be scheduled off-site at Anne Darling Elementary School.
6. Encourage teaching as a great career choice — PASS. I write about this consistently and discuss this at Board meetings. I will be at the 42nd Annual Teacher Recognition Celebration on Sept. 27 to give a personal message to all teachers who our office will be honoring. I think teachers are the brain surgeons for our childrens’ minds. They should be held in high esteem for their extraordinary work. I also believe that teachers unions must rebuild the trust of the public by reforming tenure and seniority hiring practices. I hope the SCCOE can bring in prominent national education leaders to discuss changes in this area.