It's back to school today in Sacramento and the Sunday Bee opinion page had some advice for Sac City Unified's new Superintendent, Jose Banda. The Bee editorial board are self-appointed experts on education. After they got in a dig at Banda for his potential public retirement pay, they offered five suggestions to start the school year off right.
I know enough to know that I'm not education expert, but I can recommend that Supt. Banda do exactly the opposite of the Bee's advice:
1. Stay away from Mayor Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee. Her toxic reputation among real educators is reason enough to remain outside her sphere of influence. Kevin Johnson belongs to the Wal-Mart school of education, demonstrated by his taking half a million dollars from the corporation for his pseudo education non-profit, Stand Up Sacramento, and then voting to end Sacramento's "Big Box" ordinance. His stated goal is to have mayoral control of our schools. No self-respecting life-long educator should make nice with these two.
2. Don't start a teacher led splinter group to undermine the Sacramento City Teacher's Association. After years of hostility toward the union from Jonathon Raymond, the district needs a superintendent who will work with teachers as partners, not against them as enemies.
3. Concentrate on ensuring that Local Control Funding Formula is implemented instead of getting Wi-Fi in all the schools by June. In this case, technology in schools is really about Common Core testing not about education. LCFF holds the promise of helping kids with the highest education needs. Your job is to ensure that happens.
4. Invest in strong neighborhood schools. Sac City Unified already has plenty of "school choice". These choices are only available if parents have the means to get their child to their "school of choice" that may be across town. That's assuming that the school would choose a student with special needs or English language deficiencies. What Sac City Unified needs to provide is an excellent neighborhood school for all of its students, not just the ones in middle-class areas.
5. Don't make policy. It's not your job to make policy--that's the job of the Board of Education. They're elected by the residents and parents of the district for that purpose. If you need guidance, listen to the parents and teachers. They know what their students need.
The Bee's long held anti-union, pro-corporate philosophy only serves to undermine public education. Superintendent Banda,you are new to Sacramento, but hopefully you will soon learn not to pay attention to the Bee editorial board. If you want to read the paper, read the News and Review.