Election Day 2012 was good for public education in California and the nation. President Obama’s reelection means continued reform of public education through choice, quality early childhood education, meaningful teacher evaluation systems, pay for performance, career technical education and rethinking tenure. Proposition 30’s passage leads to a more stable publicly funded system of California schools.
It might be a little confusing for the public going forward, as some districts will hire teachers and others will remain in survival mode and await dollars that will flow back to schools in late June. Cash flow problems will continue for many districts until the state’s large single payment arrives. Nevertheless, the passage of Prop. 30 is a very good omen for education.
Locally, many school districts met the supermajority bar of two-thirds by passing small parcel taxes and the 55 percent bar for passing bonds. Now it is imperative that the leaders in public education, from superintendents to principals to school boards, continue to raise the bar for student results. We must lessen the achievement gap, increase college readiness rates and reduce the dropout rate. If we do these things, the public will continue to rally behind increased funding for education.
In my role as a reelected county school board member, I will continue to focus my work on these areas:
1. Universal access to quality preschool for every 3-4 year olds in Santa Clara County.
2. Give parents quality school choices within the framework of a newly developing school master plan.
3. Reform teacher union agreements for tenure, last hired/first fired, meaningful teacher evaluation systems and pay-for-performance models that work to attract more top-tier college graduates to the teaching profession.
4. Provide incarcerated/expelled youth a system of alternative education schools, where there is a replication of best national practices.
5. Reduce school bullying incidents to as close to zero as humanly possible. This will include collecting data by district and empowering students, staff and parents to implement best practice strategies.
6. Facilitate meaningful discussions on consolidation of school districts.
7. Promote the goals of SJ/SV 2020 in every manner within my scope of influence.
Finally, I would like to congratulate colleagues who won their respective school board seats: Anna Song, SCCOE Board, Trustee Area #5; Teresa Castellano, SJUSD; Sandy Engle, SJUSD; and Craig Mann, San Jose-Evergreen Community College District.
I hope we can all work strategically together, better than we have before, to influence a system of public education that exemplifies the vibrancy and innovation in this extraordinary region.
Joseph Di Salvo is chair of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native.