Let the Education Conversation Begin

Respondents to this weekly column sometimes refer to my writings and beliefs as socialistic due to my general support of teacher unions, targeted use of additional money, and progressive education precepts.  Is Rush Limbaugh a socialist? Have we all succumbed to the opinion of Jonathan Mahler in his recent New York Times article, “The Deadlocked Debate Over Education Reform,” that “false dichotomies have replaced fruitful conversations?” I truly hope not.

As president of the county board of education, I was facilitating a discussion on priorities for the calendar year. I had tabled this discussion since February due to the lateness of the hour at previous public meetings. Board Priorities was the last item for our discussion on April 6. Each board member thoughtfully presented their one or two priorities for the year. There was considerable agreement and overlap among the members, particularly relative to continuing the strategic planning around continuous improvement for the alternative education program.

After my colleagues presented I went last. I said two of my priorities are being addressed by the reduction of bullying commission and the Office of Education’s good work on alternative education improvement. One additional high priority for me while president is to kick-start a local conversation around Race To The Top reform priorities. Remember, California did not receive $1 of the $4.3 billion federal dollars available due to our lack of key reform indicators for which the feds were looking.

I said during our discussion I would hope to invite to our San Jose office education leaders such as Joel Klein, former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, MaryEllen Elia, Superintendent of Hillsborough District in Florida, Randi Weingartner, President of the American Federation of Teachers, Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of the D.C. School System, Dr. Michael Kirst, President of the State Board of Education and Wendy Kopp of Teach For America, as well as other reform leaders to kick start a productive local conversation.

This convening of education leaders and a bold and courageous conversation would take several months in my model with one three- hour presentation and Q & A each month. My expectation would be that the dialogue would lead to new prisms from which to view education reform in Silicon Valley.

Sitting to my left during this discussion was schools Superintendent Dr. Chuck Weis. He debated with me the efficacy of bringing national reform leaders to Silicon Valley. He said at one point that I sounded like Rush Limbaugh.

Weis said he believes that many of the reform topics are public talking points and have little relevance to student achievement. Perhaps that is true. I still think the conversation would be beneficial.

I know the data are scary. Our dropout rate is increasing in this county, the achievement gap is not closing quickly enough, charter schools are growing in number and prestige, and there is a dynamic tension between teacher unions and charters at the expense of the children.

I also know traditional public schools like Anderson Village Elementary in San Jose’s Moreland school district, recognized nationally in April by the National School Boards Association, and Rocketship Mateo Sheedy charter school are ensuring a high-quality education for all children while closing the achievement gap and maintaining high Academic Performance Index (API) scores—Anderson with collective bargaining and Rocketship Mateo Sheedy without collective bargaining.

The reform issues that continue to surface on SJI and in public discourse on public education’s path forward include tenure, seniority, longer school days, performance pay, charter schools, teacher evaluations, No Child Left Behind accountability and teacher pre-service education. My vision was for the Santa Clara Ccounty Office of Education, as a regional leader, to invite teams from each of our 31 districts and charter school organizations to the table to listen and ask relevant questions of the expert invited guests from across the political and education spectrum. The district teams ideally would consist of the district superintendent, board members, teacher union leaders and parent leaders. Teachers must be at the table at the beginning of reform conversations otherwise they will all be efforts in futility.

I am neither a socialist nor Rush Limbaugh. I am life-long educator with a passion to ensure that all children benefit from a rich, quality education. One thing for certain, I want a productive, high-level debate on all education reform issues. As Jonathan Mahler said so much better than I: “The deadlock will eventually be broken, and a ‘winner’ will emerge. Either the education reformers will manage to take control of a critical mass of school districts, or they won’t. Before that happens, perhaps the various narratives and counter-narratives will decalcify and some actual debate will take place.”

I long for the fruitful conversation.

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.

82 Comments

  1. Mr. DiSalvo:

    In your post, you unwittingly swerved into the primary problem with public education in California in general, and in Santa Clara County in particular, when you stated as follows:

    My vision was for the Santa Clara Ccounty Office of Education, as a regional leader, to invite teams from each of our 31 districts and charter school organizations to the table to listen and ask relevant questions of the expert invited guests from across the political and education spectrum.

    That passage above encapsulates perfectly the problem – there are 31 districts and/or charter school organizations, along with the SCCOE, each of which takes some measure of bureaucratic bite out of the instructional cost provided on behalf of each student on an annual basis by the state.  How many of those districts that you name have superintendents and assistant superintendents and assistants to the assistant superintendents, along with the secretaries for each of those individuals, each of whom are pulling in salaries north of $75K, and in some cases north of $100K each?

    There’s WAY too much bureaucratic tail on the tiger, and not nearly enough emphasis placed on in-school instruction. 

    And because of this, and because the educrats either are unable or unwilling to reduce the bureaucratic influence on education spending, any cries for increases in education spending tend to fall on deaf ears, and will continue to do so until you (meaning the educrats) start doing a better job spending the largesse you are now currently being given.

    If you want progress, streamline.

  2. Sierra,

    You are soooooo right on!  Most folks know how bad things are in terms of too damn many districts and all the highly paid bureaucrats that go along for the ride.

    Apparently, however, no one within the education community is willing to reduce the bloat.

    Therefore, as a taxpayer, I’m unwilling to vote for higher taxes.  Tit for tat… let the bureaucrats make the first move.

  3. Joseph, why do you ignore the fact that 30% of state educational appropriations are diverted to non-classroom spending?  That’s $15B right there, ready to be tapped to benefit children in classrooms. The children in our county’s educational institutions need to have that money ripped from the hands of the jobs program otherwise known as the state department of education, and brought back to classrooms. 

    Surely, working with state legislators to restore these lost funds should be your number one priority.

    But if you can’t do that, it is far better that you make your number one priority (as you have) the discussion of ways to discuss methods to bring in speakers to provide insights for deciding how to discuss priorities. We call those “puffs-of-air” and they usually do no harm.

    I can’t wait to see your certification students’ comments.

    • “why do you ignore the fact that 30% of state educational appropriations are diverted to non-classroom spending?  That’s $15B right there, ready to be tapped to benefit children in classrooms.”

      This is true , but that 30 % is mostly non-instructional staff ( janitors, cafeteria staff & gardeners ) they are usually the lowest paid .

      That 2 to 3 % is all in administrative it amounts to millions of dollars . That never gets reduced .

  4. I agree with your comment about bureaucrats making the first move. Education is not a field you go into to get rich…you work with children in education because it feels good, because you have a passion for it and because no other career can fulfill you the way knowing you have impacted a child for the better makes you feel. Bureaucrats put all children under an umbrella and fail to see each individual one for who they are. So, what are they getting paid for?

    • I agree with this! There is nothing better than to see you have helped a student make progression in their academics and that you have made an impact in their lives.

      • I agree. Working with children yields great personal fulfillment. As teachers we can use the tools at our disposal to make a difference in each of our student’s lives.

  5. I seldom comment on education, primarily because public education has, as has America’s foreign policy, evolved into a closed shop, operating solely for the financial, political, and/or ideological benefit of those in charge. Anyone who actually believes that our public schools are dedicated to providing young people the best education possible is a dupe, pure and simple.

    Eighty-six years ago a major dust-up occurred regarding the teaching of science, specifically whether students should be taught Darwinian evolution or Christian-based creationism. The issue was one of faith versus science, and in the decades since that famous trial the oft-challenged, pro-science position of educators has never wavered. In fact, few issues will get professional education spitting venom as quickly as will a challenge to Darwin’s supremacy in the classroom.

    An undeniable fact of evolution is that it is a system based on difference. Equality, as fine a political concept as it might be, has no place in the natural world. Isolate a species, any species, for a sufficient amount of time and the differences of individuals—in appearance and/or behavior, will become obvious. This is the genes at work. Separate a species, any species, for a sufficient amount of time and the differences from the original group—in appearance and/or behavior, will become undeniable. This is the environment at work. Topography, weather, resources, and competition from others are just a few of the environmental forces that will bring favor or disfavor on an evolving group, and thus shape it into something different from what it was, leaving it either doomed or unique.

    Despite its official endorsement of evolutionary science for the classroom, public education has bet its professional credentials and billions of our tax dollars against an incontrovertible truth of evolution in its educational policy. Our children are today indoctrinated with an almost endless list of politically-correct falsehoods, all at odds with hard science but in sync with the political leanings of the education industry. But most unforgivably,our educators have, in their pledge to “close the achievement gap,” abandoned science in favor of a bit of nonsense that can be factually disproven, in essence selecting a theory with even less academic credibility than creationism.

    The idea that a deity created the universe, whatever the details, cannot be disproven for the simple reason that it is untestable. People who believe in such a thing do so out of faith, a natural and powerful component of human cognition. But faith is not science, nor is it the business of schools or governments, and those who administer our public institutions have no right imposing their faith or nonsense-based beliefs on the rest of us, which is exactly what they have done with their politically-correct curriculum and the achievement gap campaign.

    In truth, the achievement gap is, when viewed at the group level, a difference gap. That Hispanics and African-Americans disproportionately underperform academically when compared to whites and Asians, and do so despite decades of programs and schemes and excuses, is absolutely understandable when viewed from an evolutionary perspective. Difference is the rule, and in each of the recognizable groups, differences are evident. No one in education or politics is screaming about elevating white performance up to that of Asians or Jews; the only difference that will not be tolerated in America today is the existence of any group performing below that of the group targeted (with prejudice): whites.

    The idea of elevating one group over the course of a few generations without discriminating against another (by rigging the measure) is contradicted by evolutionary law—the same evolutionary law that educators used to kick Christ out of the classroom. Knowledge is, to them, merely a weapon to be deployed or denied as needed. Were our public educators truly dedicated to our precious children and equally precious education dollars, they would run our schools with the same objectivity and commitment to truth that allowed Darwin to make his great discovery. Trying to make computer engineers or physicians out of students who lack the requisite gifts isn’t teaching, it’s torture. But to do so for profit, be it the economical, political, or social enhancement of the education establishment, is just plain criminal.

    • The principles of evolution and natural selection can be applied to organizations too. If only the educrats would embrace those principles when it comes to constructing an education system. They insist on teaching kids that the wondrous, complex, efficient,and self sustaining world in which we live could only have been about through natural scientific processes. They are scornful of the suggestion of Creationism yet when it comes to constructing a wondrous, complex, efficient, and self sustaining education system, they insist that it be done by a Creator.

      Complex systems create and perpetually recreate themselves, not by direction from a central authority, but by countless decisions and adjustments that are made at all levels of the structure. They are ceaselessly changing and self correcting, nimble and adaptive. They evolve to meet their changing requirements through a process of natural selection. They are, in a way, the ultimate expression of democracy.
      The clumsy, inefficient, and structurally weak opposite to this is the centrally controlled system This is DiSalvo’s preference.
      When it comes to implementing education DiSalvo and most of his colleagues seem to demonstrate very little faith in the science that they purport to champion, believing instead that such a complex system must be designed, directed, and funded by a central authority. Their God resides not in the heavens but in a tastefully decorated office in a big building in Washington DC and it’s his job, once he gets all the data from countless studies, all the lists of ‘best practices’, all the advice from all the experts and lots and lots of money, to wave his hand, declare a new wondrous National Program with a catchy name and cause a perfectly designed Education System to arise from the firmament. 
      The emphasis placed on a central authority that Mr. DiSalvo demonstrates week after week is definitively socialistic and represents a fundamental difference of philosophy with many commenters to which he seems exasperatingly oblivious. This may be the source of the miscommunication that has him puzzled.
      Not really sure what can be done about it though if he’s deaf to other points of view.

      • Dear BS Monitor and John Galt:

        I am unclear about your positions in the posts of Tue, Apr 19, 2011 – 4:43 pm and Wed, Apr 20, 2011 – 1:03 am: Do you want to streamline and have less local control or do you advocate for less centralization?  More streamlining means a top public executive’s power will grow. Less centralization means more local control along with the strengthening of local bureaucracies.

        – Chris

        • Chris,

          I can’t speak for BSM. I was intrigued by the evolution aspect of his post and it got me to thinking along that line.
          As for me, the whole point I was trying to make was that less centralization is more efficient. Less reliance on what happens in Washington DC. DiSalvo’s always bemoaning the various shortcomings of the programs that are announced by the DOE as though they are insurmountable obstacles. Yet he won’t eve remotely consider the idea that we might be better off without a DOE. His consistent theme is that the chance of any individual student’s success here in Santa Clara County is completely dependent on decisions made by faraway bureaucrats. And I can tell by reading the posts of his students that this ‘can’t do’ attitude rubs off on them.
          The message I would prefer to hear him sending out to students and teachers is, “It doesn’t matter what happens in DC, in Sacramento, or even in the district office, you still have all the tools you need. The power is in YOUR hands. There’s nothing preventing you kids from getting a good education and there’s nothing preventing you teachers from providing it.”
          Give the individuals AT the grass roots level the power to change the system by making the decisions and adjustments that suit THEM best- not making them follow some formula based on statistics that’s passed down to them from some governing body.

        • John, I really appreciate your words “It doesn’t matter what happens in DC, in Sacramento, or even in the district office, you still have all the tools you need. The power is in YOUR hands. There’s nothing preventing you kids from getting a good education and there’s nothing preventing you teachers from providing it.”

          Doggone correct. Turn off distractions. Open book. Study.  Take initiative.  Focus.  Thank you John.

          Anyone who serves in elected or appointed education leadership roles must remember that the public wants accountability.  Few members of the electorate want boards to take a hands-off approach.  We trustees can’t take the easy way out.

          Much of education is about choices.  This generation of students and those in coming decades face more worldwide and domestic competition than did past students.  Our leaders have to lead in an era of heightened expectations and lessened resources.  No one has a birthright to academic success, but every person should have equal opportunity to achieve through diligence and hard work.

          Parents have authority to oversee their children’s public schools through school site councils.  And, just like we expect our kids to do homework, parents have an opportunity to study hard also by reading budget docs for each school and to reviewing the paper trails.

  6. Joseph,

    I commend your attempt to bring high-minded discussions about education to Santa Clara County.  Step-by-step, we, as a community can lead a statewide dialogue.

    But first, let’s clear the piled up work on the table.

    1) SJ2020, announced with great fanfare, sputters on the sidelines.  The County Superintendent allocated staff time and public resources to support or lead this effort.  But, there are no weekly reports.  There are few in-depth agenda items about this project at SCCBOE.  Where is the accountability?  Where is the oversight?  When will “SJ”2020 transform to “SV”2020 or “SCC”2020?  How about a standing agenda item to track this public-funded effort?

    2) I have no philosophical objection to hearing from any of the potential speakers you mentioned.  But, we already have more data in Santa Clara County than any other jurisdictions in the country.  Please focus on highlighting and replicating success stories. Target your energies to leave a practical, measurable legacy.

    3) If one of your goals is to transform SCCBOE into a policy influencer, great!  Schedule two or three speaker sesssions and get on with it.  Ideas are fine, but action is what’s needed.  Please review your list of to-dos and commitments.  The community will support your completion of what you already have promised for completion by Thanksgiving.  There are many community leaders who want SCCBOE to demonstrate bold leadership.  We’ll support action.

    Thank you for showing courage.  You’re trying to change a culture.  Folks content with status quo won’t cheer change.  But many Santa Clara County residents want you to lead.

    Best regards,
    Chris Stampolis
    Trustee, West Valley-Mission Community College District
    408-390-4748

    • Chris, San Jose 2020 was always a fraudulent effort to disappear NCLB and its AYP rating system that local educators will fail to meet by 2014 as NCLB requires.  Thus, a new date (2020) was hoisted to point to while kicking 2014 to the curb.  Strictly hot air.

      Now the education establishment has found a new way of handling the achievement gaps, namely by campaigning to get Washington, D.C., to end the testing regimen demanded by NCLB.  No testing, no gaps.

      Joseph DiSalvo claims that “assessments” can replace testing in determining proficiency, but we all know that isn’t true.

      So SJ 2020, designed to obfuscate public awareness of NCLB 2014, is doomed when NCLB is revised by Washington, D.C.

    • > You’re trying to change a culture.  Folks content with status quo won’t cheer change.

      Chris! Chris! Chris!

      30 year career “educator”, one-time teacher union leader, public education technocrat, and “progressive” politician Joseph DiSalvo IS the status quo.

      There is no evidence that he is trying to “change the culture”.

      He habitually thumps the tub for “more money, more money, more many” for public education as politicians have done since the days of John Dewey.  And all the “reform” efforts he supports boil down to an endless succession of “conferences” and “conversations” with the usual special interests (i.e., teacher unions and Democrat politicians) justifying and protecting the same old, same old failed government education practices.

      If Joe Disalvo got abducted by space aliens, would anyone in the public education system notice?

      If SCC Office of Education were obliterad by an asteroid in the middle of a board meeting would there be any effect on public education in Santa Clara County?

      The money spending is on autopilot and would go on forever, and that’s all anyone cares about.

      • Teachable Moment,

        Mr DiSalvo has suggested public forums with former DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Teach for America’s Wendy Kopp.  Those two people are not champions of the “usual special interests.”  They do not “justify and protect the same old failed government education practices.”

        Let’s brainstorm some other names – some different names – to invite.  From whom would you like to hear?  What policies do you want the SCCBOE to author and pass?  I have read your comments and I am intrigued to how you would vote differently on issues if you were serving as an elected Trustee.  what items would you agendize?  What motions would you make?

        The County Office of Education certainly has room for improvement and increased accountability, but one of its major tasks is to run a comprehensive alternative education department with multiple school sites.  And, the Board serves as the only locally-elected appeals ground for expelled students, transfer denials and charter applicants.  Do you suggest that the official policy of the State of California should be to eliminate all county-run alternative education programs?  Forbid the right for students to appeal local expulsions or transfer denials?  Grant unappealable charter denial authority to local school boards?

        This discussion is not about Joe.  It’s about ideas.  Mr. DiSalvo has suggested some substantive possibilities.  If we want different ideas, let’s provide the specifics of how to implement.  People who tear down new thoughts without providing alternatives effectively champion the status quo.

        • > I have read your comments and I am intrigued to how you would vote differently on issues if you were serving as an elected Trustee.  what items would you agendize?  What motions would you make?

          If I were serving as an elected Trustee, you would be treated to my fabulous Admiral James Stockdale impersonation:

          “Who am I? And, why am I here?”

          SCCBOE and Evergreen Community College District are “status quo” institutions, whose very existence and every twitch are defined and specified by the umpteen thousand page state education code.

          Public education institutions have long since lost sight of what their purpose is, and have simply glommed onto any and every spending barnacle that politicians and special interests can add to their organizational charters.

          For the first five minutes of my first trustee meeting, before I was impeached and removed from office, I would probably propose rescinding the budget, putting ninety-eight percent of the staff on unpaid leave, and requesting that the remaining staff ignore the education code, forget about the unions, define a focused customer-centered mission statement and compile a corresponding zero-based budget.

          Then I would instruct them to call me when they had something to propose, and put myself on leave of absence until they got back to me.

          But, you will scoff, that could never happen.

          “The umpteen thousand page state education is the way things must be done.  We can’t have any customer-centered education, without politician mandates and union rules.”

          At which point, I would tell you, “I can’t help you.”

          And, quoting General Colin Powell:  “You broke it. You fix it.”

          And, likewise Hillary Clinton: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result.”

        • Thanks Teachable for advocating for a zero-based budget.  I have advocated for a zero-based budget at West Valley-Mission CCD every year since being elected to the Board.  Especially in an austere era for Community Colleges, we need more accountability and community oversight in the budgeting process.

          I see the Education Code as a consumer-friendly document in part because it empowers any resident of California to demand that any Board of Education or Community College agendizes any topic of the requester’s choice.  That’s the law.  It also empowers local parents to exercise a complete blockade of all K-12 spending through school site councils.

          Some parts of the Education Code are great.  But, for all of us who don’t make a living in the world of publicly-funded education, diving in takes a bunch of time and resources.  Running for office, advocating for the details of change, etc., are equally challenging today as they were at anytime in the past 400 years.

          I am unsure if you propose that elected Trustees vote to shut the community colleges completely for a year (the unpaid layoffs) or if you basically want more accountability.  I’m listening.  I want your input.

          More than ever, California’s Community Colleges need local residents to nudge, cajole or irritate their Boards of Trustees to make changes.  I don’t scoff at your ideas.  But I will continue to ask about the details of your recommended next steps because I either can tell my children to give up on the US model of public democracy or I can advocate for the specifics of a practical path to improvement.

          – Chris

        • > I see the Education Code as a consumer-friendly document in part because it empowers any resident of California to demand that any Board of Education or Community College agendizes any topic of the requester’s choice.  That’s the law.  It also empowers local parents to exercise a complete blockade of all K-12 spending through school site councils.

          Who knew!

          I was completely unaware of the cornucopia of empowement that flows from the Education Code.

          The formula for improving education in California is simple and obvious:  “More is better!”  Let’s just double the size of the Education Code!

          If it’s umpteen thousand pages, lets make it double umpteen thousand pages.

          This management stuff is pretty easy.  I think I could handle it.

        • Actually, the formula is getting adults to choose to spend time reviewing the budgets for their own neighborhood schools.  If we choose to say “To heck with getting involved; let the administrators do what they want,” then I guess we all get what we get.  But, significant power does reside at the local level through school site councils.

          The entire Education Code is posted at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/calawquery?codesection=edc&codebody;=&hits=20

          This covers K-12, Community College, CSU and UC, including rules for bonding, how to create charter schools, guidelines to provide service for special needs students, rights of the public, etc.  One doesn’t have to know the whole darn code to make a difference, but it doesn’t hurt to embrace knowledge.

          I guess one can blow off steam and make light of the existence of laws.  Perhaps we all would have been better off under the English or Spanish monarchies.  Revolution was such a drag, right?  All children born today in California inherit the Education Code as it was passed before they enter the world.  Perhaps a few of them will grow to make a positive difference in our shared state.

        • > I guess one can blow off steam and make light of the existence of laws. 

          I’m all for the rule of law.

          The problem is, we live in “post-rule-of-law America”.

          Quoting a highly influential California educator:

          “One doesn’t have to know the whole darn code to make a difference, but it doesn’t hurt to embrace knowledge.”

          Can you name ANYONE who knows the whole darn education code?  If there are any such persons, they are members of a very tiny, very powerful group of mandarins who have at their disposal a “legal parts box” from which they can withdraw phrases, clauses, and interpretations at any moment and construct just about any policy they damn well please.

          And conversely, they can choose to ignore any phrase, clause and interpretation they damn well please simply by declaring that their is an obscure court decision somewhere that supercedes.

          The pinnacle of modern post-rule-of-law technology is probably the Obamacare legislation.  Two thousand, five hundred pages, assembled behind closed doors, cobbled together with bribes and backroom deals like the “Louisiana Purchase” and the “Cornhusker Kick-Back”.

          And do we know what is in the Obamacare law?

          “In order to find out what’s in it, you have to vote for it.”  Which a majority of legislators did, and they STILL have no idea what’s in it.

          But regardless of its provenance, at least two courts have found things in it to be “unconstitutional”.

          But what the hell does “unconstitutional” mean in Post-rule-of-law America when the Constitution is a “living document” which means something different to Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2011 than it did to Thomas Jefferson in 1787.  And only Ruth Bader Ginsburg knows what that difference is, and gets to decide!

          Again, I’m all for the rule of law.  Unfortunately, the law has evolved from being the impartial and immutable standard for a civil society into being a net, a straight jacket and a garrote that can be and is used by sophists to restrain the people and make them docile, benumbed, and controlled subjects of the ruling class.

  7. > I would hope to invite to our San Jose office education leaders such as . . . Randi Weingartner, President of the American Federation of Teachers, . . . .

    > The district teams ideally would consist of . . .  teacher union leaders . . . .

    > I am life-long educator with a passion to ensure that all children benefit from a rich, quality education.

    I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again:  If the goal is to provide that “all children benefit from a rich, quality education” then what possible benefit “for the children” is gained by including teacher union leaders?

    “When school children start paying union dues, that ‘s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”

    – – Albert Shanker

    Any “education conversation” that includes teacher union leaders is not a conversation about children, it’s a conversation about the selfish interests of the unions.

  8. We consider you a socialist because all of your “solutions” require a monopoly by government-owned and -controlled schools as opposed to school choice.  Perhaps “statist” would be a better description.  IMHO vouchers would be a simpler, quicker, cheaper, and more effective solution.  Underperforming schools would quickly find themselves without students and closure while the better-performing schools would thrive.  Complicated and expensive multi-year evaluations and corrective programs cannot compete in effectiveness with the free choice of parents seeking what is best for their children.  I submit that most parents are better able to evaluate the needs of their children than educrats at SCCOE, Sacramento, or Washington, at a fraction of the cost.

  9. Teachers Unions are not the solution to the educations crisis in America , they are the cause of the education crisis by supporting unqualified, low performing teachers and requiring costly bloated non responsive bureaucracy

    • I agree with you that Teacher Unions haven’t been that useful for teachers and schools. But what can you do otherwise? what other institution would you set up to represent teachers? What would you replace teacher unions with?

      • > what other institution would you set up to represent teachers?

        How about the same institution that already represents everyone else: the state legislature.

        If they’re competent enough to represent everyone else in the state, they are competent enough to represent teachers.

        And besides, having a SEPARATE institution to represent teachers to the state government in addition to the legislature which represents teachers to the state government amounts to EXTRA representation for teachers and is a violation of the principle of “EQUAL protection under the law”.

    • You may be right, but I do believe that teacher unions can have a positive influence on education if they are able to put the focus back on the students.

  10. What a surprise, “Weis sitting to the left”. That is exactly where he needs to be. Casting aspersions on the Board President and relating his questions to Rush Limbaugh is insulting. Weis must have control of the school board or he would not be so aggressive in his comments to the board president.  His arrogrance was also displayed in his last position before coming to San Jose. He IS PART OF THE PROBLEM. An educator who supports the failed system that is now in place. Education has been tweaked and massaged over the last five decades and it has finally come to it end of improvement. Wake up – we are producing a lost generation of student with a failed education system. Dramatic changes need to take place. Weis and other just want government schools controlled by unions without any competition.  Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t competition help to build a strong America. Why do they fear competition. Because it will show how bad the current system really is. Weis will milk the system until he retires with a very large retirement and you can bet he will then become an active lobbyist or spoke hole for the unions. He is and continues to be the problem with education.  Save your children, home school or charters will give your child a chance, government run schools will only keep producing more and more failures.

  11. Suggestion…. Only publish comments when a post discloses the writer’s real name.  Newspapers only publish signed letters-to-the-editor.  Let’s tone down the rhetoric and implement a similar standard here.

    I value reading different opinions that spur dialogue.  Posts tend to be more substantive when real names are attached.

    – Chris Stampolis

    • > Suggestion…. Only publish comments when a post discloses the writer’s real name.  Newspapers only publish signed letters-to-the-editor.  Let’s tone down the rhetoric and implement a similar standard here.

      > I value reading different opinions that spur dialogue.  Posts tend to be more substantive when real names are attached.

      Ummm. No.

      Many years ago, I wrote a letter to the Mercury News under my actual, authentic name as it appears on my full birth certificate.

      In my letter, I supported the idea of “education vouchers”.

      My wife was a special education teacher in a local school district.

      Shortly after my letter appeared, my wife’s supervisor confronted her over the letter:

      “Did your husband write this letter”.

      My wife acknowledged that I did.

      “Do you realize that if we had vouchers we would all be out of jobs.”

      Not long after this episode, my wife filed a sexual harassment complaint related to a separate incident.  The school district “investigated” and found no cause for the complaint, and then fired her (“declined to offer her a contract”). 

      My wife complained to the union, who basically did nothing.  The union and the district actually behaved in such a way that we strongly suspected them of working together to get rid of an employee who was not a public education “true believer”.

      The idea that a Community College District Trustee wants the real names of his critics (who may also be employees of his district or other public education entitites) published on the internet is an invitation to corruption which we all know they capable of.

    • You would think that somebody who holds a BS in Political Science would be a little more accepting of media commentary done under a pen name.

      I would point Mr. Stampolis to the examples of Publius (the pen names used by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in the creation of the Federalist Papers) or Silence Dogood, or even to the pamphlet “Common Sense” which was, at the time, credited as “Written by an Englishman”. 

      I imagine that the authorities of the time would have very much appreciated Thomas Paine having placed his full name and city of residence on “Common Sense,” so as to make the job easier for the Redcoats.

      It is now quite apparent that when they teach Political Science at SCU, they do not teach American History to go alongside.

  12. “Our dropout rate is increasing in this county, the achievement gap is not closing quickly enough, charter schools are growing in number and prestige, and there is a dynamic tension between teacher unions and charters at the expense of the children.” Joe you are right. This is scary and as parent this is very frustrating. Why can’t the we focus on the children and work together to find a solution to this problem.

    • > Why can’t the we focus on the children and work together to find a solution to this problem.

      This question has been asked many, many, many times.

      Many posters on this list have proposed answers to the question.

      Instead of asking the same question yet another time, why not address some of the answers that people have proposed and decide whether they succeed or fail in answering your question.

    • I agree with you completely Maggie! Even though I am not a parent this is scary information. I can’t understand why it is so difficult to come to a solution!

  13. “I am life-long educator with a passion to ensure that all children benefit from a rich, quality education.”

    This is the reason why I wanted to become a teacher. The passion for making education better for children and actually caring about the outcome. Even though the progress of making education better is gradual, every person who fights for a rich quality education is making a difference.

    • I completely agree.  Choosing to become a teacher, especially now, requires a passion for educating children.  People don’t become a teacher for the money or the fame.  They do it becasue they want to help every child receive a “rich, quality education.”

    • Exactly! At times I feel a little nuts about becoming a teacher in this day and age, but I remember WHY I originally chose this path for myself.  I believe in a quality education for our children, in addition to a community that supports and respects teachers.  I feel that some people forget that these individuals are teaching their children.  Wouldn’t all parents want the best teachers for their children?

  14. I don’t believe your a socialist.
    All the critics here have issue’s with the educational system , they see it as a common root to the nations problems . I believe that the educational system has been ‘demonized’ by the same people ( groups ) that seek to reform it .
    Bridging the achievement gap year to year is a difficult task for any school that has made AYP progress recently , it’s being able to maintain that level constantly . Public schools and Charter schools are fundamentally different , and most of the ‘charters’ are parental controlled , or run by non-educational institutions . The whole idea of charters was to create special school for the disadvantage social economic children . The word charter has been twisted around by anyone who wants to set up a school with public funding . Are all charter schools bad ? NO . Comparing one school like Anderson with Rocketship Mateo Sheedy charter are two different things , both of them are using two different approaches to instruction . One a ‘traditional ’ the other a ’ Using a unique hybrid education model’  .

    Rory Ellinger, a lawyer and former member of the University City School Board, says the problem has more to do with class and encouragement rather than race. He illustrates here,

    “The most affluent kids in U. City happen to be white,” he says. “It doesn’t matter the skin color. It has to do with economics. You have people who can afford to send their kids to Country Day, Burroughs and St. Louis University High, and you have another group that cannot afford to do that. Yet you expect to teach and expect all these kids to learn at the same capacity. That’s the built-in problem in a district like U. City. ”

    • Unknown Educator: “The most affluent kids in U. City happen to be white,” he says. “It doesn’t matter the skin color.”

      If it doesn’t matter, why mention skin color?  The fact is that the education debate is larded with faux racial implications for teachers and for students as we have seen over and over again.

      I’m afraid that for Unknown Educator, race is right up there with proficiency and hopelessly intertwined to serve more than one agenda.

  15. With the start up of the California Lottery is was stated the money raised would be to help our schools.  I wonder what it would take to get an accounting of the money?  I would like to see with all the years of contibutions has the test scores changed?

  16. Chris Stampolis “Only publish comments when a post discloses the writer’s real name.  Newspapers only publish signed letters-to-the-editor.  Let’s tone down the rhetoric and implement a similar standard here.” 

    Note:  Some newspapers allow anonymous comments and blogs that do not allow anonymous comments have substantial declines in readership or blog posts like Protect San Jose did after requiring bloggers to sign in with their real names and emails

    Anonymous comments on web sites and blogs protect privacy, fundamental rights and promotes the public good.

    US, Great Britain and many other democratic countries have had a very long free speech tradition with anonymous public pamphlets, newspapers and blog comments that US Supreme Court, many other courts and most people believe that anonymous comments should be upheld as constitutional protected free speech

    Governments, corporations, organizations, politicians, managers, administrators and many others routinely lie to us, make illegal or questionable back room deals, mislead public, commit and purposely hide improper civic, criminal, government, tax spending and embarrassing actions or information

    Without anonymous free speech much of the improper, illegal and questionable actions and hidden information would not come out because of frequent retaliatory or threatening actions by governments, employers, corporations and those who disagree with the comments, beliefs, politics or the disclosing of secret, hidden or embarrassing information that public

    Why is knowing someone’s name important at all ?  Would anonymity make the argument false?

    A well structured argument and information should, independent of the person making it, either stand or fall on its own merits, not on the reputation of the person making the argument.  This ideal, makes anonymity irrelevant in the vast majority of discussions.

    Part of SJI’s community usefulness is that anyone can post their comments or ideas with or without their real name

    If the information or comment is to be believed by most the anonymous blogger should provide reputable links to the information or facts which they are using so others may validate or can disregard the information, facts or arguments

    • I agree that protected free speech is a cornerstone of democracy.  I also think that anonymous speech is sometimes helpful when folks fear for retribution.

      While allowing anonymous blog posts is fine as it encourages more participation, I also have to honestly say that I have to discount what is said by folks who can’t put a name by their words.  In some of the pension debates for example, the number of union reps, city managers, rank and file employees and “city hall insiders” seemed to be heard louder than many others and with anonymous labels its hard to tell who’s a voter and taxpayer and who’s someone who’s job it is to shape public opinion.  I like to know this sort of thing.

      There’s also a tendency to embrace anonymous rants as supporting democratic free speech when in reality the person wants the pleasure of riling others up but lacks the courage to stand behind their words.  Sometimes the lowest form of political dialogue such as “ad hominem” arguements, slander or false accusation are distributed with false authorship to protect the political operatives penning such missives.  Remember the campaign hit pieces in Vietnamese sent from some fake PAC to district residents saying “politician X loves communist vietnam and want to sell out the vietnamese community in San Jose for personal profit and political connection…” or some such?  Turns out the return address and all the material was fake, but these hit pieces have a chilling effect in an election as they do in policy discussions – once a red herring issue is raised, your tarnished, such as when someone stands up at a forum and asks “have you stop discriminating against latinos in your department?”

  17. The only way that any change will come to education will be through a civil dialogue. Obviously, a civil dialogue has not taken place yet. What will it take for Republican and Democratic leaders, rich and poor, administrators and board members, to come to a meeting point on these issues. I fear that it may already be too late.

  18. A person in the United States is free to publish thoughts in any format of that person’s choosing – anonymous or otherwise. But, one is not entitled to force anyone else to publish one’s thoughts for free.

    Mr DiSalvo repeatedly has requested education leaders and local elected representatives to engage in substantive discussion on this site.  I have responded to Mr. DiSalvo’s requests and have received an explicit guarantee from Mr. DiSalvo that posts on this privately-owned moderated forum will not degenerate into personal attacks.

    Sierra Spartan’s nonsequitur post slamming SCU’s political science and American history classes (and by extension, me, as an alumnus) clearly demonstrates a violation of the non-attack standard.

    Mr. DiSalvo, please respond to clarify the policies on this moderated privately-owned forum.  Is the price for engaging in “education conversation” at your site to be personal attacks?

    • > Mr. DiSalvo, please respond to clarify the policies on this moderated privately-owned forum.  Is the price for engaging in “education conversation” at your site to be personal attacks?

      Joe:

      I think you should tell Mr. Stampolis that he’s probably way too smart to be wasting his time wading through the ignorant and dyspeptic drivel that regularly appears on this forum and also that he’s probably too sensitive and thin skinned to be participating here. 

      Tell him you will compile an abstract of all comments flattering to him and to his point of view and forward it to him.

    • Sierra Spartan’s nonsequitur post slamming SCU’s political science and American history classes (and by extension, me, as an alumnus) clearly demonstrates a violation of the non-attack standard.

      Mr. DiSalvo, please respond to clarify the policies on this moderated privately-owned forum.  Is the price for engaging in “education conversation” at your site to be personal attacks?

      Dude – Grow a pair.

      If you did not realize that this forum accepts pen names in place of full name, place of birth, mother’s maiden name, or whatever standard you would wish to put forth, then the fault lies with you, and not with us.  Research is your friend.

      Furthermore, YOU were the one who placed his name and title, therefore inviting people to investigate your background in order to see where your interests may lie.  This is not something you had to do, but you chose to do so anyway.  So live with the outcome of your choice.

      If you put yourself out as a public official, then the price for doing so, in any civilized society, is to have your issues called out.  My response to you was not based on your ideas regarding education (which by the way you did not provide except as to suggest to ‘brainstorm’ for other ideas, but that’s another topic for another day) but on your suggestion that the posts of those of us who choose not to put our names to this forum are less “substantive” than those who do.  I would vociferously disagree with you on that point, as would most of the other folks on here.

      Anonymous public speech has been a cornerstone of political discussion since the very founding of this republic – and with your educational background, you should know that.  The Intertubes is merely an extension of that political tradition, and I make no apologies for remaining behind my nick.  And believe me when I tell you, I spent enough time on the Mission Campus (Swig 6th floor FTW!) to have earned – or more properly, purchased – an opinion on how that particular school educates its students. 

      And in my time with the Good Fathers there at SCU, and at another Jesuit Institution of Learning for four years before that, I can pretty well rest assured that if the Padres heard or saw you reacting in that fashion after a mere joke at the expense of your college, they would take you aside and explain to you that if you, as a public official, react in such a juvenile fashion to public speech, then you’re not going to be worth a damn as that public official when something really hits the fan.  Either that, or they too would just tell you to grow a pair, because that’s just how Jesuits roll.

      Mr. Stampolis, you put yourself in the public arena.  You brought yourself on this board as a member of that public arena.  Look the part, live the part – or get out.  Because true leaders don’t go crying to daddy (or in this case the board mods) because they thought someone was being mean to them in the press.

    • One other thing, Mr. Stampolis – if you are looking for a substantive answer to the issues that Mr. DiSalvo raises, please see the first response to this article (April 19th at 11:53).  I’m sure that, as a trustee of the WVMCCD you would disagree with such a position, for it is also my contention that there is far too much bureaucratic duplication in the community college district structure as well.

      Each of the three CCDs in Metro San Jose has two schools.  Each of those districts has a completely separate bureaucratic support system—HR, payroll; each has a separate Police Department with both sworn and unsworn personnel, and each has a completely separate FD&O presence.  These are all duties and services which can be streamlined into one district structure serving all six Metro San Jose colleges, or (at least in the case of the police services) outright eliminated in favor of contracting with either the SCCSO or the various city police agencies where the colleges are located.

      Streamline first, then we’ll discuss more money.  All else is bluster and hot air.

      Substantive enough for you?

      • Sierra,

        If we’re getting into substance, great. Let’s go.

        I agree 100 percent with your statement that “There’s WAY too much bureaucratic tail on the tiger, and not nearly enough emphasis placed on in-school instruction.”

        You may be nominally pleased to know that I seriously have been advocating to consider the elimination of the separate WVMCCD Police Department. Nothing personal against any of the officers, but we have to make difficult financial choices.  I want as many pennies as possible to go towards student education.  Since every taxpayer already pays for the County Sheriff and a local police department, we all need to know why we pay yet a third time in our District.  This is ultimately a community influenced decision: Do local taxpayers want District-hired sworn officers on Community College Campuses or do we want to count on local response from off-campus when emergencies happen.  The officers serving the municipalities of Saratoga and Santa Clara are the ones whose workloads would increase if WVMCCD dissolves the District’s police department and tells employees, students and visitors to call the local cops if they encounter trouble.  Please share your opinion with the Board of Trustees if you really want to partner with allies.

        You write: “If you want progress, streamline.”  I am open to a new model that would collapse Santa Clara County’s seven community colleges (over four districts) into a single district.  My main concern is that the Boards of the largest community college districts in California already have greater difficulty exercising detailed oversight.  The larger a volunteer Board’s workload, the more freedom ceded to administrators. 

        (BTW, though I don’t have a clue who you are, we seem to have similar Jebbie-trained HS and Bachelor’s backgrounds.  I’m not insulted personally by anything you wrote.  I’m simply trying to decide how much energy to invest in participating on this blog.  If regular participants really are trying to make a difference here to lead to substantive, practical, get-the-darn-thing-done-change, I’m all in.  Though, to effect real statutory change, members of the community have got to speak up to my Board colleagues regarding issues such as zero-based budgeting and streamlining.)

        Please don’t be “sure that, as a trustee of the WVMCCD (I) would disagree with…(your)…position.”  I am elected to serve as a community representative – not as a representative of the status quo bureauocracy.  If you want to know my positions on any education issue, I’ll answer directly without BS – whether we agree or not.  I ask the same from you – whether anonymous or public.

        Aside from some power tasked to the President, Governor and a few Mayors, our entire political system relies on elected officials to govern by making motions in open session.  Few boards are tracked by the public.  Let’s shake it up.

        – Chris

  19. The first step in solving a problem is to discuss the options. It seems too often that well meaning educators put into action solutions without fully considering all options or the unintended ramifications. It certainly can’t hurt!  The situation in education is currently a dire one and we should be looking at every available avenue to change that fact. Perhaps a conversation is a good way to spur actual change. It seems we are deadlocked by apathy. Instead of saying what we can’t do, let’s look for opportunities to work together!

  20. I agree that there are a vast number of educational problems that California is facing. Action is needed to begin to fix these problems. Politics and education have never been the best of friends. Perhaps someday these two essential entities can begin to work together towards creating an educational system that is based on supporting and fostering student learning and achievement.

    • Considering the present educational problems in Ca,I hope that these two entities begin to work soon to create this educational system where student learning is the top most priority.

  21. It boggles my mind that people so directly involved in the educational system can be so blind to how much of a village it takes to raise a child.  There should be enthusiasm to get as many people involved as possible. Raise awareness! Get politicians involved! Make teachers speak up! All I’ve learned as an undergrad is how essential it is to get parents to participate! Why does a group discussion have to be socialist? It feels like that’s the new communist threat: socialism.  If someone says something that’s a threat to your beliefs, call them a socialist and maybe they’ll back down.

  22. I agree with you Neva. It is time to stop arguing and come together to find a solution that will help benefit the children. They are our future and they need to be our focus.

  23. Boy, did this topic turn into a waste of space. Had I a sweet tooth I might savor all the warm feelings and good intentions, but after decades spent at the table of public education it all tastes sour to me.

    The best thing anyone could do to public education would be to outlaw the use of any demographic information other than age and gender. Treat every incoming student as a unique individual, freed of any preconceived notions or politically-inspired agenda, and respect that student’s performance as a reflection of his/her uniqueness. 

    To a first grade teacher, a student’s race or socio-economic level says nothing about that individual student, no matter that the child might fit a particular profile. Plenty of children defy group stereotypes and perform better (or worse) than what might be expected from statistics, but when the emphasis is on changing group performance data rather than dealing with students as individuals (and letting the group stats fall where they may), the institution’s ability to serve a student’s uniqueness suffers.

    As a group, half of all students are below-average in intelligence. Public educators are today spending billions of dollars trying to make that half racially indistinguishable from the top half. They have, along with numerous elected buffoons, elevated the scam to a noble calling. Apparently not a single one of these so-called experts has ever taken notice of one simple truism: in the entirety of human endeavor there is not a single talent or skill that is, from a racial standpoint, evenly distributed. Take a look at the who’s who of science, sports, music, engineering, literature, art, or even soldiering, and you will see racial disparity.

    How many tax dollars are you willing to spend on something that cannot be done? Believe me, these egalitarian zealots will spare no expense and nobody’s feelings fighting human nature. They’ve been insulting school administrators and teachers here in San Jose for forty years, all because of subpar performance from students of two particular racial groups (the same groups that crowd prisons).

    We’ve had a few experts comment here, but not one with the intellectual courage to respond to my direct challenge to the feasibility of the campaign to close the “achievement gap.” How pathetic. Imagine belonging to a taxpayer-supported academic discipline that won’t even defend it’s number one priority.

  24. So the public education system is a little confusing.  I honestly don’t know exactly what the County Board of Education does and how it fits into the scheme of things.  I suspect they might provide some back office support for the local school districts, which in turn provide HR functions and planning direction for schools, which accept enrollment and deliver education services.

    The quality and methodology used in teaching seems to vary a fair bit across this large county.  Points of excellence exist not just in private schools, but also in the public schools in wealthier parts where folks will bid up house prices just to make sure their kids get into the right “high performing schools.”  This suggests a high degree of parental involvement which seems to trump most other factors as a predictor of student success.

    But before we shrug and decide economic determinism is pre-ordained and that the children of poor parents are likely to get a second class education and go on to be working poor themselves, let’s look for other approaches. 

    Charter schools sometimes are offered as examples of fixing a broken system.  Indeed, some charter schools, dealing with the same demographics as a low performing school district have shown outstanding results.  Again, however, I think this is a selection bias in that the students in the charter school had to actively seek to enroll their (or their parents did so) which suggests a filtering of the most motivated students and involved parents out of the mainstream low performing school and into the charter classroom.

    All that said, it sounds like you are looking for concrete and specific proposals to aid in the County Office’s role (whatever that is) and help improve local schools.  My suggestion is an educator academy consortium to link educators across districts into a collaborative team working on innovation and continuous improvement.  Have classes and symposiums for the educators to share ideas, successes, lessons from failures and the rest.  Reward success and recognize top performers each year.  Recognize the achievement also of parents, parent groups and children and seek their input on models for improvement.

  25. As people discussed their priorities for the calendar year, where did improving our standard public education lie? I think this should be a VERY high priority.  While things like bullying and alternative education are important, public education as a foundation for our educational system needs some immediate attention.

    • I agree with you Jamie.  All these other things are very important, but overall we should be simply focusing on public education in general.

    • Kathleen,

      I think we should be careful and thoughtful about those part time elected leaders, public agency commissioners etc. that receive full time medical benefits. I think it is wrong for all to receive benefits as though they are full time employees, especially during extraordinarily weak economic times. Benefits, if paid at all, should be commensurate with the share of full time equivalent of individual elected leaders or commissioners.

      I think this is all part of a larger discussion on sound policies that ensure the public good long term. I waived my right to medical benefits as an elected school board member 2 years ago.

  26. There is so much discussion and such little action.  I have worked in the business world for over 20 years and when things are not running productively than hard decisions are made and action is taken.  It may be painful, but that is the way change is.  I think less bureaucracy and more action, painful or not, needs to be put in motion.  Highly paid professionals are arguing back and forth without making headway, while the children in our schools suffer.

  27. At what point will those involved in education stop pointing fingers everywhere and start realizing that the first step in providing a quality education, and closing the achievement is not a secret. You mention schools in CA and across the nation that are doing it as we speak. Yet, we still act like there is a magic secret, undiscovered about how to solves these issues. IF getting together a group of individuals who appear to know what they are doing, then let that be the first step. IT’s time we start to connect the pieces and show that there are things that work. Once we stop pointing fingers and start realizing the answers are in front of us, we be begin to take the first step in improving our education system. It seems we have to many hands in the cookie jar!

    • I agree with you Tony, 100%, we have to stop finger pointing and just find a solution. Obviously, taking money from school districts is not the solution, but cutting back on things that are not necessary can cut down expenses. If people would stop wanting everything there way and have a compromise then solutions to problems can be fix, you have to give and take.

      • I totally agree!  How are they expecting to improve anything when no one can agree on a solution, or come up with a solution for that matter. How do they think that budget cuts to education is going to help education in any way?  Between that, and possibly cutting down the school year in the future is not doing anyone a favor.

  28. There’s so much to debate about, but no solution at hand.  It would be great to see someone stand up and start a movement that makes a change, one school at a time.  There are those that care about the future of our country; who know that it is through education that this will occur.  Unfortunately, the people who are elected in office, never find a way to make this a realitY.  Maybe it will take someone out of office to make a change.

  29. Sabina,

    You write “Unfortunately, the people who are elected in office never find a way to make this a reality.”

    “Never” is a heavy conclusion to place on the shoulders of volunteer neighbors.  Our elected education officials owe us their integrity and their best efforts.  But our system does not function well as a dictatorship or an oligarchy.  If we expect our school board members to read hundreds of pages of budget documents each year, do we have similar expectations of ourselves or the rest of the people on our blocks?

    Simply asking school board members to create solutions by themselves may be less practical than proposing detailed answers and engaging in dialogue.  Public policy works best when society members participate in the creation and implementation of standards.

    – Chris

  30. The taxpayin public would believe that California public schools need more taxes and higher fees if the education system was not hiding most of school costs from public like Sunday’s Mercury News story about very highly questionable for some School Board benefit costs

    Another in a long list of hidden highly questionable public school, community college and California State and UC system costs which undermine public’s trust in school, community college and university systems

    The public could have a better understanding about the costs of our public education system in California if:

    1) Boards, administrators, support personal and teachers salaries, all benefit costs and total per person were published which as California courts have ruled are public information

    2) Other schools costs were published and made easily available – vehicle, buses, classroom maintenance , outside contracts so that all education costs by school and district were open transparent school system to taxpaying public

    Use a standard California financial reporting format like City and Counties use so that costs could be compared school by school and district by district with the school statistics ,number of students, students per class per grade m test scores etc – all the information that schools have but is hidden from public

    3) Board and Board committee reports, minutes agendas, audits, financials, test scores etc should be published at least 7 days before any Board meeting

    Many are not available, hidden or published 2-3 days before meeting

    • Dear Needed: Open Transparent School System,

      Please note that your elected officials receive copies of agendas and backup materials at the same time members of the public do.

      I have been asking West Valley-Mission Community College District administrators to provide committee reports, agendas, audits, financials, data, etc., earlier than the statutorily required 72 hours.  Even if it’s clear that some clean-up may be made to earlier posted info, trustees and the general public could have more reasonable time to review information before voting final decisions.

      Please write to your local elected boards, commissions, councils, etc. to express your request that information should be published a few days earlier.

      – Chris Stampolis
      Trustee, West Valley-Mission Community College District

  31. “California did not receive $1 of the $4.3 billion federal dollars available due to our lack of key reform indicators for which the feds were looking.”

    If a local productive conversation involving representatives from each district in the county will help CA work towards receiving more federal funds, by all means, let’s do it.  The key word is for me is ‘productive’.  A lot of conversations are lacking in the production department.

    • I agree with Gayle. The problem with much conversation nowadays is that it leads nowhere. It’s all talk and no action. If these conversations can actually produce results for our students, I’m all for it.

      • Kim,
          You took the words right out of my mouth. There’s been so much talk about what should be done, yet there needs to be more action that leads to needed change and progress.

        • I totally agree with Jamie, Kim, and Gayle! It is one thing to talk about something but it is another to actually do something.

        • I agree with you Kim and Jamie. I still don’t understand how so much “talk” has occurred and still, nothing has been done about it. Why can’t we get the ball rolling? Our students deserve better, and they are clearly not the biggest priority at this moment, which in my opinion is terrible. These children are going to be the future of our country… our future leaders of America. They are the ones that are going to take over when we are gone. Let’s make something happen!

  32. I agree with you that much has to change in the way of our educational system and I hope that as President of the Board, that you are able to implement some of those changes.

    • > I agree with you that much has to change in the way of our educational system and I hope that as President of the Board, that you are able to implement some of those changes.

      Change! Change! Change!

      I am SOOOOO sick of the word “change”.

      Politicians constantly talk about “change” but no one really knows what SPECIFIC change they are talking about.

      What are the SPECIFIC changes that you want Joe to implement?

  33. Our school system here in California has many problems they require fixing.  The issue is no one can agree on how to fix it.  Funding is constantly being taken away from education and then the state wonders why our students are widening the achievement gap instead of closing it.

  34. The more I read on these forums how people feel so strongly about education the more I see that we all have a part in the blame.  The lack of paying attention to what is actually going on in our schools and districts is a true problem and this has allowed unknown and unacceptable bureaucratic elements to feed off the ignorance and become fat and lazy about what to do with money, assets, and personnel.  Trimming of the fat is now needed because the system is out of shape in a bad way.  Some schools are doing this and doing this well.  We should look to them for guidance.