Column 300: A Heartfelt Farewell

A moment ago I opened Microsoft Word and opened a new blank document to write my final weekly column for San Jose Inside. I am doing so with a heavy heart.

My first column appeared in this space Dec. 9, 2008, one day before being sworn-in to my newly elected seat on the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. Since then, I have had a weekly appointment with my computer to lay out my thoughts on public education. There is something centering and peaceful about focusing once a week for a few uninterrupted hours of writing, particularly on a subject for which I care deeply.

In that first column I wrote with an innocent honesty: “San Jose Inside has given me an opportunity to bring the issue of public education to the forefront of our community conversation with a weekly column. … I want this blog-post to begin a critical dialogue about the educational topics that affect the quality of our lives in Silicon Valley. … From my lens there is no more important issue than public education and equity for all children within its reaches.”

Writing from a hotel room in San Diego while attending my first CSBA conference, I was naive about the blogosphere and the overwhelmingly negative place it had become. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. Donald Trump is an example of how deeply we have fallen into the abyss of hateful speech that does nothing to contribute to an intelligent discussion on how to solve societal and global problems.

My second column, “Teachers Deserve Respect—and Money,” dealt with raising the stature of the teaching profession through increased compensation for those who do it well. I discussed the development of a multi-media campaign with personal stories from Silicon Valley people talking about the teachers that made a difference in their lives. Unfortunately, this has yet to happen, but I have continued to keep the concept alive in conversations with influential people.

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote this week: “Teaching can’t compete. When the economy improves and job prospects multiply, college students turn their attention elsewhere, to professions that promise more money, more independence, more respect. … Teaching also needs to be endowed with greater prestige.”

He concludes, “The health of our democracy and the perpetuation of our prosperity depend on teaching no less than they do on Wall Street’s machinations or Silicon Valley’s innovations.” I concur!

All of the good work and money appropriated for Common Core, Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Local Control Accountability Plans will be wasted if we do not act boldly to fix the quality teacher supply pipeline. Also, we MUST invest in high quality early learning, especially for the least advantaged children among us. Brain development begins very early in life, and providing K-12 teachers with a generation of ready-to-learn students will naturally increase the supply of college graduates wishing to entertain a career in teaching.

My list of priorities going forward include: Fixing the broken teacher pipeline system in Silicon Valley and making sure there is high-quality early learning for all children from birth to age 5. The return on investment will enhance our democracy for the foreseeable future.

I want to thank Dan Pulcrano for giving me this extraordinary opportunity and my two editors who have helped me tell my story these last 300 columns: Josh Koehn and Eric Johnson. I also give heartfelt thanks to former publisher David E. Cohen, who gave me my start as a fledging education writer in his Community Newspapers in 2005.

I hope to continue writing an occasional San Jose Inside column on critical issues in public education. In September, I will begin writing my book to be self-published in 2016—at least that is the goal.

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. Thanks Joe for all this hard work. So disappointing to see a public forum not able to deliver cordial and helpful discourse.

    • Barbara Hanson wrote: “Thanks Joe for all this hard work.” What hard work are you referring to Ms. Hanson—writing 300 columns mostly of drivel? Joe was elected and is paid to watch over the Superintendent, not to spend hours writing columns for SJI and having editorial meetings with Josh. He and his cohorts on the board have failed miserably at watching over Mr. Gundry, and his predecessor. Perhaps now that the pressure of a weekly column is gone Joe can actually do his job. Oh, I forgot, he’s told us his next dalliance is to write a book. Little wonder Juanito can’t read.

  2. A wise man (Old Man Weed) once imparted this bit of advice to a young Meyer: “Never trust a man who wears a pinky ring.” That advice has never failed me.

      • Curious.

        The posting you were responding to seems to have been re-filed with the Hillary Clinton e-mails.

        The posting was actually a response to Wheedle wherein I effusively praised Wheedle’s intelligence, high moral character, selfless service to the community, and numerous humanitarian acts such as rescuing kittens caught in trees and turtles flipped on on their backs.

        Unclear why SJI would want to suppress and conceal this wonderful and praiseworthy perspective on Wheedle.

        Wheedle should investigate.

  3. Anyone who believes the government has any role in the education of infants and toddlers is a threat to liberty and has no business holding public office. Let Mr. DiSalvo and others promoting such quackery peddle their ideas in the free market, where they either find enough idiots to sustain them in their ruinous endeavors or they don’t (and fade away to wherever it is old snake oil salesmen gather to commiserate).

    • What? This is an “education” column. I bet there are some who have learned quite a bit.

      Like a classroom it is… Some of us raise our hands and ask questions of our teachers and our leaders. Very pertinent questions about the 3’s you know traditional education and corruption. what do we get ? Common core, social justice , achievement gap, Rocketship, education Mayor…and continued corruption and mismanagement from a public agency that duplicates the duties and responsibility of 30, 40, 50???? Smaller sovereign autonomous school boards in Santa Clara County… 300 columns of the same old garbage that was failing schools students and taxpayers long before Joe DiSalvo started typing!

  4. Thank you Joe for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us. Writing for a public blog can be brutal, as I’ve found out myself. I wish you good luck with your book. While some of the responses you have received seem a bit harsh, I hope that some of the constructive criticism some of the bloggers have shared with you over all these years, are incorporated by you in an effort to improve our educational system.

  5. I was so happy to learn that this bombastic Board Member is leaving the Santa Clara County Office of Education Board!

    The most important job of a Board Member is to make sure that the organization has the most knowledgeable and talented Superintendent possible. The Santa Clara County Office of Education once had such a superintendent in Dr. Charles Weis. I had the opportunity to work with Chuck when he was superintendent and can attest to the fact that he was an outstanding leader with vision, strategic thinking, and the ability to manage the implementation of the strategic plan. A true gem.

    Joe DiSalvo led the charge to push Chuck out of his position because Chuck held firm on not allowing Board members to meddle in and micromanage the work of the County Office of Education. I can remember one Board meeting when Joe called a recess at the beginning of a meeting during a discussion about an important topic because Chuck had not invited enough stakeholders to stroke the infinite egos of the Board members. Joe engaged in overblown histrionics as he called an immediate recess and strutted and swaggered out of the meeting in a major faux huff!

    It appears that Joe and the Board got their way in hiring a series of milquetoast superintendents who acceded to Joe’s need to meddle in management!

    The source of all pain is the inability to let go of that which needs to be released! So glad that the Joe has decided to leave the Board, With this release some of the pain that afflicts the Santa Clara Office of Education may subside.

  6. Such nastiness. Such non-intellectual criticism…in so far as even mentioning a wedding band worn on the smallest finger because it no longer fit as a pinkie ring.True as the placement, but obnoxious, uneccessary commentary and irrelevant. This commentary is like the entire country. Nasty, never ending bull crap aimed at folks who try to do their work. Failures are often. Civil discord is one thing, but the comments here are simply not constructive. JohnMichael O’Connor especially needs a time out.

    • Oh, my bad, it’s a wedding band! …worn on the right hand now!

      I said this was an education column and I have learned.

    • No Rose Garden, it’s PC flakes like you and DiSalvo who need a time out. Folks like DiSalvo get support from clueless people like you who continue to support the DiSalvos of the world who speak PC gobbledygook about their incessant new programs that show no success whatsoever, but make folks like you feel good about the effort. Its folks like you who give sports trophies and medals for mere participation, despite the lack of superior performance, or even ability. Everyone is a winner!! What’s next in your world, MVP trophies for everyone? This behavior by adults to protect their little darlings results in adults who cannot deal with adversity, since they were constantly praised for mere participation as kids. It also demeans those who excel, by pooling them with the inept. You people dumb education down to the lowest common denominator and give medals for mediocrity. PC folks like you continue to praise mediocrity and even failure, while criticizing anyone who demands superiority and success. Attitudes like yours will turn the USA into France, and then Greece.

      • Blah, blah, blah…you have too much time on your hands JMO. What does PC have to do with nastiness? What does trophy’s have to do with your angry discourse? Oh, you must have red an article about the football player who made his sons give their trophies back. Original thinking Mr. Nasty. Do judges allow you to speak like that in the court room? I doubt it. You might even restrain yourself in front of a judge. How about such restraint here?!

        • Rose Garden Kumbaya person asserted: “Oh, you must have red an article about the football player who made his sons give their trophies back.” Well, I have never heard of that, but I do know the difference between “red” and “read.” And she asked: “Do judges allow you to speak like that in the court room?” The answer is yes. That’s why I won. There are no medals and trophies or jury verdicts for second place in the courtroom. You should move to France RGR and go to work at a white flag manufacturing plant. You’ll fit right in.

  7. Copied and pasted from Joe’s LinkedIn profile, which you write yourself.. This kind of sloppiness and the guy is a lifelong educator??!!

    Bellarmine College Preparatory
    Bachelor of Arts, Sociology

    San Jose State University
    High School Diploma


    For those of you who might not get it, like Rose Garden Resident, Joe tells us he graduated from Bellarmine with a BA and from SJSU with a high school diploma.

    • Who was the ditzy tv/movie character who used to respond to improbabilities by saying, “It could happen!” ?

  8. Well, I appreciated Joe’s attempt to keep the public connected and informed. I wish other political figures would do so.

  9. Now that the conflict of interest is over I hope there’ll be more investigative reports coming. Please don’t hold back Mr. Koehn.

  10. Hello Joe –
    I will miss your column. Sorry that there are so many trolls in the comments section here. But that does not detract from your columns.
    Susan Price-Jang

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