De La Torre Named New Superintendent

Dr. Xavier De La Torre will be officially appointed Mar. 7 as the Superintendent of Schools in Santa Clara County, replacing retiring Superintendent Dr. Charles Weis. The announcement was made simultaneously to the leadership teams at the Santa Clara County Office of Education and the Socorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas, where Dr. De La Torre is superintendent. As was made clear to him during several interviews by the SCCOE Board of Trustees, Dr. De La Torre understands the “fierce urgency of now” relative to increasing achievement for all students.

Dr. De La Torre, a Broad Prize for Urban Education finalist two years in succession, is fiercely committed to eliminating the achievement gaps. He is prepared to find systemic ways to help partner and find solutions with school districts struggling to close the racial achievement gap. In addition, he desires to close the second achievement gap, which is to better prepare our “best” students to compete with their peers in China, India, Finland and Singapore. Xavier believes there is no better place to do this work than in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Since there is little support for increasing public funding to accomplish this goal, it will be essential for Dr. De La Torre to create more efficient and effective systems that leverage private-public partnerships. The ultimate goal is to ensure that all students in Silicon Valley graduate from high school prepared for college or career success.

Here is the media release disseminated on Thursday, Feb. 23 by the SCCOE:

Xavier De La Torre named next
County Superintendent of Schools

SAN JOSE, CA – Dr. Xavier De La Torre, a former California educator who is now the superintendent of the Socorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas, has been selected as the next Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools, with official approval expected at the Santa Clara County Board of Education’s March 7 meeting.

“He will be a game-changer,” said Board President Joseph Di Salvo, “not only for the students and schools of the SCCOE, but for all 31 school districts in the county.”

Dr. De La Torre is completing his third year as superintendent in Socorro, which in both 2009 and 2010 was named a finalist for the Broad Prize for Urban Education.

Previously he worked as chief human resources officer and labor negotiator in both the Elk Grove Unified and Fairfield-Suisun Unified School Districts in California. He also has been a principal, teacher, and baseball and football coach in several California school districts. He earned a B.A. from California State University-Chico; an M.A. from the University of San Francisco; and his Ed.D. from UC-Davis.

He will succeed Dr. Charles Weis as County Superintendent. Dr. Weis is retiring June 30.

“I’m excited and humbled to join such a great organization, with an outstanding reputation,” Dr. De La Torre said Thursday. “I’m very much aware of the great work that Dr. Weis and the Board have done on behalf of students throughout Santa Clara County.

“I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead, and I look forward to working with all 31 district superintendents and their teams in support of students.”

Di Salvo said the board’s research yielded exemplary references for Dr. De La Torre. “He was described as honest, fair, compassionate…with a great sense of humor.” He added that De La Torre, who is bilingual, has extensive experience in working with diverse students and is a strong advocate of multilingualism.

Dr. De La Torre has five children, four of whom are school-age. His wife, Amy, is an elementary school teacher and personal trainer. He will assume the duties of county superintendent on July 1 with the retirement of Dr. Weis.

“I want to thank Chuck for all his good work on behalf of our students,” Di Salvo said, “and I look forward to Xavier’s building on that work.”

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. Watch your back when this guy comes to town! 

    He is taking credit for Broad?  Broad was in motion when he arrived.  He didn’t get the win.  He only mucked up the works.

    I feel very sorry for his new district.  But happy he is leaving ours!

    • This person is obvioulsy misinformed.  Our distrist benefited from de la Torre.  If anything, we needed 3 more years with him.  One year of Broad may have been under the prior sup, but the second was all his doing.  I suspect that “concerned” was one of the lesser candidates that de la Torre beat out for the position.  He/she sounds like someone with a grudge.  To bad, concerned can’t be honest about de la Torre’s strong leadership and competence. 

      I only hope our next superintendent has half of de la Torre’s qualities.

      Ofelia

    • But Ofelia, there is nothing about something called “Broad” in the initial posting except a reference to Dr. De La Torre’s being a finalist for a “Broad Prize for Urban Education” two years in a row, whatever that is.

      SCCOE deserves more that we received from County Superintendent Dr. Charles Weis and County Board Member Dr. Joseph DiSalvo, and that means more than snapping back at what appears to be an uninformed comment by “Concerned.”

      Let’s move the discourse about public education in Santa Clara County up several notches at this critical time of leadership change, and avoid speculations about motives.

      And DiSalvo, lighten up on the verbal vaporware like “fierce urgency of now.”  Why unfairly burden Dr. De La Torre by setting that as a standard for him before he takes office next week?

  2. Dr. De La Torre understands the “fierce urgency of now” relative to increasing achievement for all students.

    My question is how ?  Are we just going shove & force students to ‘achieve’ . The learning environment in some of the lowest performing schools that have to maintain the yearly AYP -API is vary stagnate . And bilingual education was a flop , it did nothing but put students behind .

    The problem with multiculturalism is that it singles out one group that has the highest minority of the majority in California . The Superintendent choice is an example . If his ‘focus’ is just the Hispanics , everything else will sink.

  3. The story in today’s Merc quoted you as saying that “Two hundred and ninety-nine thousand dollars is not even close to fair compensation for someone living in Silicon Valley.”

    Approximately 435 of California’s 9.25M children live in low-income families (defined by the feds as 2 x the poverty level or approximately $44K/year) and right here in Silicon Valley, 39.7% of all public school students K-12 are eligible to receive free or reduced price lunch.

    Whatever the cost of living around here, and wherever you stand on executive compensation in the public sector, your comment insensitive.