Do you remember playing the game “pickle” when you were a kid? You only needed two bases, a baseball and two gloves, and a couple friends. Two of your friends would stand at bases 30 or more feet apart, and you were the runner. The goal was to try and avoid being tagged out while running back and forth from one base to the other.
While participating in last week’s Game Changers 2012 event, which focused on Silicon Valley’s economy and was sponsored by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, I had the sinking feeling that public education was in a “pickle” and down to its last out. The expert panels during the plenary session included:
The Green Economy
Silicon Valley’s Changing Economic Engine
The State Economy and Public Services
Staying Competitive as a State and Nation
Where was public education’s Preschool through University (P16) as a panel for becoming a game-changer for the Silicon Valley Economy?
For me, there is no more critical sector for our economy locally, statewide and nationally than public education. After all, more than 50 percent of the state budget is for P-16 public education. Public education’s absence as a distinct and separate panel was very disappointing. Perhaps there are not enough game-changers in the world of public education in Silicon Valley?
For certain, this is a false premise. Education is the most important factor to influence future employment and quality of life in this area. And I can think of enough game-changers to fill a panel easily.
Let me name several prospective panelists for a future education panel on being game-changers for public education: John Porter, Franklin-McKinley Superintendent; John Danner, CEO of Rocketship Education; Emmett Carson, CEO and President of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation; Stephen McMahon, President of San Jose Teachers Association; Darcie Green, Alum Rock School District Board Member; Michael Kirst, President of the State Board of Education; Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University; Matt Hammer, People Acting In Community Together; and Congressman Mike Honda, a former local teacher/administrator.
New to Silicon Valley but worthy of mention are: Mathew Mahood, President & CEO San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber, and Mohammad Qayoumi, San Jose State University President.
I think Mr. Mahood and Mr. Qayoumi have the potential to be key players in the public education field, and they now have the chance to step to the plate and be game-changers for children and teachers in Silicon Valley.
Emmett Carson was the closer for the Game Changers 2012 event last week. He roared his disapproval about the current Preschool-University public education system in Silicon Valley. He said just 39 percent of the region’s high school graduates meet the math requirements to attend a California public university.
“Santa Clara County has 32 separate districts, 19 of which are in San Jose, while San Mateo County has 24 districts. It is impossible to hold anyone accountable for the dismal educational outcomes of our children with so many different school boards and superintendents. … Silicon Valley business and foundation leaders must demand reform of this dysfunctional system.”
Earlier in the piece, Carson wrote: “Together, business and foundations have the intellectual talent, public credibility and resources to engage elected officials to tackle two critically important game-changers: education and fiscal reform.”
Admittedly, there is bedlam here in Silicon Valley. So much is riding on public education. But we can’t lose, so let’s roll up our sleeves and do the work it requires to get the win for all our children. Working together with a strategic regional plan we can get this done. Si Se Puede.