Who in San Jose’s 2014 Mayoral Race Will be a Champion of Education?

I support Bill de Blasio for mayor. Too bad he lives in New York and not San Jose. He gets “it.” After his primary rival conceded, de Blasio officially became the Democratic candidate for mayor of America’s most populous city. He’s practically a shoe-in to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg. This is a very good thing for the children, families and teachers who live in New York. If only San Jose had such a candidate for its upcoming mayoral race.

During de Blasio’s successful primary campaign, he published a 9-page position paper on public education titled, “Preparing Every Student For Success In College and Career.” De Blasio writes: “New York City will not thrive if only some of our schools meet the needs of students. We need a commitment from City Hall to ensure every child can succeed.” He knows this, having been a public school parent, a former school board member and currently serving as the public advocate for New York City.

In April of this year, I wrote that the next mayor of San Jose must get “it,” when it comes to education. All other issues are related or pale in comparison. Mayor Chuck Reed is a strong supporter of SJ/SV 2020, the initiative to eliminate the achievement gap in the next seven years, and the next mayor will need to continue that effort. San Jose cannot afford to leave public education off the top of the list of issues in the mayoral race. One need only look to New York City to see how de Blasio has successfully done this.

Fifty percent of all students in San Jose score below grade level proficiency in math and reading. The high school dropout rate is 35 percent for Latinos. STEM careers in Silicon Valley are going unfilled because we are not producing the students our local corporations need. We need immediate action.

Education results are the key to a strong economic engine, reduced crime and increased quality of life for all. De Blasio’s vision includes this education platform:

*Create universal pre-kindergarten and after school programs for ALL middle school students.
*Expand and improve career and technical education.
*Increase parental engagement and communication.
*Stop bullying in schools.
*Address student behavioral issues.

These are the same issues I ran on in 2008. We have made slow incremental progress on each goal, but not enough. Education can no longer be perceived as out of bounds or in another institution’s purview when it comes to the mayor’s race. I have had positive conversations with a few of the candidates about their interest in becoming an education mayor first and foremost. But I’m still waiting for one of the announced or unannounced candidates to state the importance of the issue publicly with a sense of urgency. Nothing less will garner my unwavering support.

If no one fills that void before the filing deadline, Feb. 5, 2014, I will consider filing the requisite papers to become an official candidate. My sole intent as a minor candidate without financial backing would be to spark a dialogue about the importance of quality public education in San Jose. A candidate must be a voice for all children. After all, they are the most important constituents.

Joseph Di Salvo is a member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native.

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. > If no one fills that void before the filing deadline, Feb. 5, 2014, I will consider filing the requisite papers to become an official candidate.

    Huh?  What?

    Joe:  This is your zaniest column yet.

    YOU —JOSEPH DISALVO—are sitting at the top of an institution that spends more than a QUARTER OF A BILLION DOLLARS locally to educate children.

    The Mayor of San Jose has NO budget for educating children.

    If our education system is failing should we blame the Mayor of San Jose or should we blame you?

    Whose job do you think it is to “be a Champion of Education”?

    If you think the Mayor can spend the quarter billion dollars more effectively and with better results, do we really need you?  Why not just transfer the quarter billion dollars to the Mayor’s office.

    • No, you’re missing the point.  If any candidate vowed to do everything on Di Salvo’s wish list, that candidate would get Di Salvo’s vote.  If no candidate steps forward, then – this is the important partDi Salvo will run for mayor!

      Get ready for Di Salvo for governor and Di Salvo for president too.

  2. If you don’t understand that the fundamental difference brown NYC and SJC -in regards to education -is that the city of NY runs the schools and the city of SJ DOES NOT run the schools, then you have no business running. Period.

    You are in a position to make systemic change on the school board and you haven’t to any great extent! Why would anyone think you can do it when you move to a position with no actual over site and authority?

    Get real!

  3. Bill di Blasio ran against Bloomberg’s education policies. Here’s an analysis of his primary victory by one of his endorsers (in case you want her endorsement, she will be presenting her book “Reign of Error” at Stanford on 09/30)

    “In exit polls, voters said their leading concerns were jobs and education. Of the three leading candidates, de Blasio was the sharpest critic of the mayor’s education policies.

    The election was a clear repudiation of Bloomberg’s strategies of test-based accountability, closing schools (despite community opposition), and charter schools. .

    The New York Times polls showed that only one in four New Yorkers approved of Bloomberg’s education policies. The Quinnipiac poll showed approval at only 22%.

    One thing is clear:

    The national reform movement just took a big hit. New Yorkers rejected it as stale and oppressive. They don’t like the status quo. They want change. They want leadership that cares more about children than about data. They want leadership that values education more than testing.”

    If you were to run as a local di Blasio, who is the local Bloomberg? Wouldn’t you be running against yourself?

  4. Joseph,

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is folks like you that are the reason our education system is failing. Half of you serve on School Boards so you can run for office.

    Schools should be turned over to teachers and students because they are the only ones that truly know what is needed to improve our educational system.

    BTW- The Mayor of San Jose has no say about our education system, or schools. I guess you forgot that very important fact.

  5. Federal oversight (interference) hasn’t worked + State Oversight (interference) hasn’t worked + County Oversight (interference) hasn’t worked.

    31 individual School districts in Santa Clara County can’t get anything done with all the outside interference from 3 different levels of “oversight” so only answer to the problem is for San Jose to elect an “education” mayor to provide one more layer to the bureaucracy???

    How much more time, money and energy is our society going to WASTE before we come to the hard realization that NOT EVERY CHILD IS GOING TO GO TO COLLEGE FOR ANY NUMBER OF VERY REAL REASONS AND IT IS LUNACY TO BELIVE OTHERWISE???

    The Mayor of SJ is nothing more than an “at-large” council person in the LARGEST City in Northern California, 3rd largest City in all of California, and 10th largest City in the USA yet doesn’t wield ANY INFLUENCE IN ANY OF THOSE SPHERE’S – Yet this is a priority for DiSalvo???

    How did you become so delusional?