Education Increases Worth of Patent Office

U.S. Reps Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda, as well as a myriad of political and civic leaders, must be congratulated on securing the regional site for one of four patent offices in the country. This is a huge win for Silicon Valley.

However, the accomplishment will be less meaningful if we don’t create a public education system that represents the ideals of the area and ranks first in the nation. We need a system in Silicon Valley that produces talented and innovative students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), as well as the arts, with high-quality public school teachers leading the way. Today we know better than at any time in our history what the “patent” is to build a high quality teacher. 

One key factor on developing teacher quality is evaluative feedback that is meaningful. We can learn a lot from what has been done with the 3,000 or so videos of teachers funded by Bill Gates and directed by Thomas Kane, professor of Education and Economics at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The New York Times recently announced its second annual SchoolsForTomorrow Conference seminar titled, “Building a Better Teacher.” It will be held on Sept. 13. Teacher quality, as it relates to increased student achievement, is a conversation we must have. At the same time it cannot be used as a forum to bash teachers or the profession.

Let’s encourage some public organization that cares about education in this county to organize a meeting of concerned school trustees, teachers, and district and school leaders to come to see the live streaming from New York. Then, working with a steering committee, they can put together a comprehensive action plan to focus money and energy on Silicon Valley teacher quality. It is an essential factor to meet the SJ/SV 2020 goals and to improve all schools.

Professor Thomas Kane will be one of the 14 presenters at the Future of Education summit sponsored by the NY Times. If teacher evaluation and feedback is the main focal point of the action plan, the organizational effort will be worth its weight in gold, or Apple and Google’s common stock. Our local teachers must be involved at the start of the discussion and participants in the live streaming.

Other points that should be on our local agenda under the umbrella of teacher quality are:

• Pay-for-performance models that are working across the U.S.
• Changing the role of teachers
• Teacher training and professional development
• Developing new models for tenure
• Using technology more effectively

Due to a planned vacation this will be my last column until August. Thank you for reading.

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.


  1. While it benefits this area, I think it benefits the USPTO more than it benefits Silicon Valley.  They’ll be able to hire a lot of people here that would not relocate to the DC area.

    This is another example of “push” versus “pull” thinking.  If people aren’t motivated by the starting salaries that engineers and other professionals can earn, then how do how do you propose to “push” them to put in the effort and make the sacrifices necessary to complete the training necessary to qualify for those jobs?

  2. Joe:

    In your many, many posts on SJI you have said in many ways, directly and indirectly, that education is underfunded and needs more money.

    But, in your many, many posts, you have said not a peep about the mammoth, tax-wasting boondoogle called High Speed Rathole (HSR) which is sucking up every spendable tax dollar and more for at least the next century.  Can you tell me when the LAST bond dollar borrowed to pay off the HSR bonds will be repaid?

    Don’t you suppose that the money spent on the High Speed Rathole might have the effect of diminishing the amount of funding available for education?

    Doesn’t this concern you?

    Why haven’t you said anything?

    • Joe will not be writing again for SJI until he returns from vacation in August. For the month of July, you’ll need to troll some of our other writers.

      Thanks for reading,


      • > Joe will not be writing again for SJI until he returns from vacation in August. For the month of July, you’ll need to troll some of our other writers.


        Thanks for your helpful guidance.

        Which of your other writers are most in need of trolling?

        Do you have any other advice as to how I can be a more docile, conformist, and socially acceptable poster on SJI?

        As you have probably figured out, I’ve always wanted to be one of the smart people.

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