After filing papers to run for a second four-year term for my County Board of Education Trustee seat, I learned on the Aug. 10 deadline that no one filed papers to run against me. Therefore, I am automatically re-elected. This is a great and unexpected result, but one that is not so good for providing me a campaign forum to raise some of the most critical issues of our time.
My name will not appear on the ballot, therefore my ballot statement will not be seen by the 130,000 registered voters in my trustee area. The $3,500 I raised from supporters and friends to remit to the Registrar of Voters for printing cost was refunded. Here is that 200-word statement for the record:
“Our most important issue today is the quality of our schools. I’m an educator and former principal. Four years ago, the voters gave me the privilege to serve. Since then, I’ve worked tirelessly and passionately to meet the challenges by increasing student achievement, reducing bullying, and providing quality early childhood education programs—all with a balanced budget.
“I’ve been elected by my board colleagues as President the last two years. As President I facilitated votes to: ensure that all children read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade; approve quality charter schools giving parents choices; improve alternative schools for at-risk youth; authorize efforts to reduce bullying; improve programs for the most vulnerable children from birth to grade 3; work with a nationally recognized initiative to end the educational achievement gap in 8 years. I write a weekly column for public comment on critical education issues: tenure, performance pay, charter schools, and teacher quality.
For my commitment to education, innovation, and reform, I have been endorsed by: Supervisor Ken Yeager, Robert Kiev (KLIV/KRTA) Councilmen Oliverio and Liccardo, my 6 Board colleagues, Congressmembers Honda and Lofgren, Susan Hammer and Senator Simitian. For a complete list of endorsements go to JosephDiSalvo.com.”
Last Saturday morning I attended a meeting convened by Assemblyman Jim Beall with Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, with about 25 school board members and superintendents from the county. “This is the toughest time ever,” Torlakson said in his opening remarks. “Cuts that have taken place in public education during the last few years are greater than the cuts during the Great Depression.”
The funding cuts to public education preschool through grade 16 (P-16) are digging a devastating hole for future generations and the quality of our life in Silicon Valley and California. But in this county we have a knack for innovating and improving the status quo, even when the goal seems unachievable. Laboring at the grassroots level in 1999-2000, People Acting in Community Together (PACT) and Working Partnerships USA leveraged Medi-Cal, Healthy Families, and Healthy Kids to establish health insurance for 70,000 children without any existing coverage in Santa Clara County.
This wise community effort was strongly supported by then Supervisor Beall and San Jose City Councilmember Judy Chirco. Today our county provides health care for 95 percent of all eligible low-income children.
As I have the privilege to serve my community these next four years, I want to help create a new grassroots effort to ensure that all low-income children from birth to age 3 have early childhood learning experiences from high quality professionals. This effort is consistent with the effort to ensure that by the year 2020, Silicon Valley and San Jose has eliminated the achievement gap and all children are ready to learn by kindergarten.
This endeavor is very much akin to the tremendous effort in 1999-2000 to ensure that all county children have access to health care. Even in a down economy we can do the smart foundational work.
I take inspiration for achieving the aforementioned goal from remarks President Obama made about one of my childhood heroes, the late Neil Armstrong. “Neil was among the greatest American heroes—not just of his time, but of all time,” President Obama said. “When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation. They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable—that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible.”
In this Valley of Heart’s Delight, which spawned HP, Apple, Intel, Google, eBay, and Oracle, anything is possible. I am very confident that the new County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Xavier De La Torre, will convene the leaders from all public and private sectors to see this strategic goal realized in half the time that it took us to get a man to walk on the surface of the moon.