Prevent Educational Disaster

The Los Angeles Times on April 27 endorsed Larry Aceves for State Superintendent of Public Instruction…I did so on SJI in a post dated August 25, 2009…more on this later.

Sometimes when I read the blog responses to my weekly post I feel like my opinion on educational funding issues is in the smallest of minorities. Sometimes I wonder if I am a lone voice in the wilderness. I was quite heartened when I recently read the results of a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California funded by William and Flora Hewlett Foundation that places my opinion with most of my fellow Californians. I now feel vindicated, but so what?

According to the PPIC report issued on April 28, 2010, “most Californians (62 percent) believe there is not enough state funding going to their public schools, a 12 point increase since April 2009. A similar majority (62 percent) say they are very concerned the state’s budget gap will cause significant spending cuts in K-12 education.”

The massive, ever-expanding blob of oil floating around in the currents of the Gulf of Mexico is an epic man-made ecological disaster. It will wreak havoc to the tourism, shrimping and commercial fishing industries, not to mention all the wildlife in the Gulf for years to come. This geographic area has barely survived the ravages of Mother Nature, however this time the crisis was caused by man. One lesson this disaster teaches us is that man-made disasters can be prevented, unlike earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Now we have the numbers (62 percent) to do something to prevent this pending horrific educational disaster, but do we have the leaders?

One colossal man-made disaster we have the ability to prevent concerns the largest K-12 public education system in America. California has 6.3 million students in 1,043 districts and 9,898 public schools. (I agree with those of you who write that we have too many districts and concur with you that we can save money through consolidation and the economy of scale.) The man-made disaster we must prevent is the precipitous decline of public funding per student in a system near or at the bottom of funding in all 50 states. I am very glad this opinion is shared by so many of my fellow citizens of this once great state.

The 2008-11 funding crisis to California’s public schools and its children will take our state a very long time from which to recover; much longer than the Gulf clean-up of the sticky crude oil which will wash to shore soon. “At a time when Californians are looking for reforms that will improve student achievement, more Californians are seeing the direct effect of the state’s budget problems on children, teachers, and resources in their local schools,” says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “They expect better results from their leaders in Sacramento and Washington,” asserted Mr. Baldassare.

I agree with Mark. We need leaders at the top of the pyramid that will be bold enough to lead us out of this abyss we have created. To become a great state again we need to offer an expanded curriculum for every child K-12 replete with social studies, civics, art, music, foreign language, sports, physical education, career technical education and of course science, math, and English. We need children educated who can think critically and problem solve, not just successfully fill in bubbles on a state testing form. We must have the very best teachers in our classrooms with clean, safe, and orderly communities of students. Uniforms should be required, hard work rewarded, and parent involvement encouraged.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board in their endorsement titled A Common-Sense Educator writes that Larry Aceves would be a breadth of fresh air as state superintendent of public instruction. “…retired superintendent Larry Aceves strikes us as best suited to manage the state’s large education bureaucracy and to bring reason and optimism to schools that have been torn apart by shrinking budgets over whether and how much they should be punished for falling short of achievement goals”. You can read the entire editorial at

Here are the leaders I will place my trust in for working on diverting us from this unprecedented man-made disaster with the precipitous decline of funding for public education:

Jerry Brown for Governor
Gavin Newsom for Lt. Governor
Larry Aceves for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Even though this grouping is just representative of the executive branch, their focused leadership on the largest spending category in the state budget, education, could lead us to a new consensus with the legislature.  It is with strong visionary leadership at the executive level that we can possibly get to a 2/3 majority of the legislature on enacting new revenue sources for K-12 public education while reviving our once great institutions of higher education. The increased funding will need to be tied to many of the planks on Aceves’ platform for running.

Averting this man-made disaster must be our highest priority today, tomorrow, and forever more. There is no more important government function than the education of all children to a level where they can lead productive and happy lives.

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. OMG, you’ve lost all credibility with me regarding your endorsement of Newsom.  I honestly would not hire him to mow my lawn.  The guy has made S.F. the laughing stock of the nation!

  2. The biggest blob of waste is DiSalvo’s writings.  For months this toady of bloated bureaucracy and advocate for pc boobery has written blither and blather about he is the savior for education.  Now he is making endorsements for his golfing buddy and Gavin of the Loose Zipper?

    Please Joey go back to career counseling Wal Mart aisle clerks.  Believe or not, Evergreen employs a disciple of this snake oil salesman, a PhD admissions clerk.  You want to reform education, send guys like Joey to Jack in the Box franchise school.

  3. Evidence that a career as a public education administrator inevitably results in spontaneous lobotomy:

    > Here are the leaders I will place my trust in for working on diverting us from this unprecedented man-made disaster with the precipitous decline of funding for public education:

    > Jerry Brown for Governor

    For those born yesterday, or victimized by public school brainwashing, this is the notorious “Governor Moonbeam”, also known as “Governor Medfly”.

    His career highlights include appointing the arrogant and incompetent ideologue Rose Bird as Chief Justice of California Supreme Court.  Rosie was eventually tossed out on her keister by fed-up California voters.

    After his first stint as governor, Moonbeam served as mayor of (blam! blam! kapow! “Keep your head down”) Oakland, California, world famed paragon of civic good govenment.

    After solving Oakland’s civic, cultural, and financial problems, Moonie moved over to become California Attorney General, ignoring the small matter that he was statutorily unqualified to serve as Attorney General for lack of the required legal practioner experience.

    In other words, California’s chief law enforcement official served as AG in violation of California Law.

    > Gavin Newsom for Lt. Governor

    Decided on his own to start issuing marriage licenses to Gay couples in San Francisco.  Smacked down first by the courts, then by California voters.  Twice.

    Obviously has a hearing problem.

    Also diddled the wife of one of his staffers.  But showed real class by not actually DEMANDING sexual favors from the staffer’s wife in exchange for letting the staffer keep his job.

    No clue what he would do as Lieutentant Governor.  Probably whatever he or his sex organs feel like doing, since he’s never been held accountable for anything.

    > Larry Aceves for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

    A career educrat in a public education system widely recognized as “failing” and in “fiscal crisis”.

    “It says here on your resume,” Mr. Aceves, “that in spite of spending your entire career on the public education payroll, nothing has gotten better.”

    “And you are asking to be promoted?”

    “Are you nuts?”

  4. Joseph,

    Do not pay attention to this site.  For whatever reason, the Internet attracts the lunatic fringe.  I suppose it is because they are stifled in the real world, so they need to spew in the virtual world.  Of course, in both worlds they are mocked, ridiculed, and scorned.

    Good luck.

  5. Wow, the enlightened posts today are breathtaking. I guess substantive opinions based on fact would be too much to ask for? But, I guess childish insults are much better than having a reasoned dialogue. See you on the playground, kids.

  6. Last week, Mr. DiSalvo took some shots for advocating that school lunches should be kept going through the Summer, as it’s the main meal for some of these children.  I stand shoulder to shoulder with DiSalvo on this point.  Get these kids fed…we’ll fight about the tab and the politics later.

  7. Public discourse about “SJ 2020” has obscured our public memory about “Proficiency By 2014” which was designed in 2002 to close the opportunity gap by 2014.

    Federal law declared eight years ago that all students in San Jose schools (and the nation) score at least in the proficient range by 2014 on tests.  [“Proficient” is one of three passing categories, i.e., basic, proficient, and advanced.] 

    Educating all San Jose students so they score in the proficient category or above would close the gap for all students, and finally bring social justice to the victims of the opportunity gap.

    Twelve years were allotted to move all students up into the proficient category by 2014, yet SJ 2020 makes no mention of this social justice aspiration.

    Delaying social justice promised by 2014 until 2020 is simply social justice denied.

  8. Joe, you are not alone.  This site is skewed to one side, but the public is with you.  Teachers are being layed off all across the state because of the woeful underfunding of our schools.  The facts are clear.  You can’t do more every year if you have fewer resources.

  9. Public services only really work if we all pay in, and we all get benefits.

    Schools are breaking the second half of that compact.  Bright kids get ignored.  If your child is at or above grade level, don’t expect help. 

    This kills much of the support for schools.  Parents who write tuition checks to private schools may not want higher taxes, too. 

    If you really want a 2/3 majority to support education, then you have to think about 3/3 of the kids.

    • Left…

      I totally agree with you. I have posted before on Gifted and Talented students being the most ignored in the system. I called it criminal neglect. Great article in the SF Chronicle on 5/2/10 on the subject…“Gifted students shortchanged…” we must serve 3/3rds of our students at the highest level, within the “zone of proximal development”.
      Joseph Di Salvo

    • I agree with the sentiment.  The problem is that when money for education gets cut, the first thing to go is G/T (GATE) programming because those students have other opportunities, while the at-risk and underperforming students rely on public education. 

      So once again, the parents that pull their kids from the private schools and then don’t want to pay for the public schools result in public schools that serve their needs less.  It’s a vicious cycle.  It all comes down to whether or not the public values public education enough to support the education of students at all levels.

  10. Well its probably going to take more than a party line vote and a federal bail out to fix the education mess in California.

    The systemic problems started getting zany when mitigation was introduced (some schools get too much money, others too little, so let’s funnel it all through Sacramento and then send back an equal share to every district based on enrollment.)

    Some of the well-intentioned fixes started in the courts, others in the legislature, but at the end of the day the system just fell down as state commitments exceeded state means.  I actually like that we have a balanced budget requirement in California, imagine if deficit spending were possible here like in D.C.?  It’d be at least another 10-15 years of gilded age splendor in the public sector followed by abject poverty as debts were called and assets seized.

    I appreciation your opinion as an educator and partisan, but I rarely vote party line, and like to see and hear more from each and every candidate before giving my vote.  This is pre-primary, so let’s wait until October to sell the bill of goods about which “team” will fix the state, restore prosperity, save education, and all the rest.

  11. Joseph,
    Don’t you think these school administrators have gone too far? I find these behaviors by school officials to be extremely concerning. It reminds me of horror stories my German immigrant mother told me about the teachings of Hitler she endured when she was in school as a youth!

    Who do they think they are to tell youth NOT to honor this country by wearing the American flag to school, or how to express their own political beliefs? Censorship and denial of one’s Civil Rights should NOT be taught in schools nor should schools mandate what they perceive as “PC behavior!” What hypocrisy!!!

    “An assistant principal at Live Oak High School asked the teens Wednesday to turn their T-shirts inside out or go home because the red-white-and-blue garb was “incendiary” on May 5. Many of the school’s Latino students — 39.9 percent of the Live Oak student body — were celebrating the unlikely defeat of the Mexican army over French forces in 1862 by wearing Mexico’s colors of red, white and green.

    Three boys left campus because they found the other option to be “disrespectful” to the flag, and two remained in school anyway, without changing, some of their parents said.”

  12. Is this really about the First Amendment? Not likely. A few kids thought it would be cool to push the envelope and tweak the noses of those celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Sending them home might have been an over-reaction but this was clearly done to provoke. What would the response be if Hispanic students wore Mexican flag clothing on the 4th of July? Similar provocation. If folks could just be respectful of each other (I know that is asking a lot—especially on this blog) we wouldn’t have have these silly discussions with comparisons to the teachings of Hitler. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and look at this for what it was—a few kids trying to cause a little trouble. These days the potential is great over a seemingly minor incident like this. Is it worth it to risk student safety for no reason other than youthful foolishness?

    • > Everyone needs to take a deep breath and look at this for what it was—a few kids trying to cause a little trouble.

      Yeah.  Just a few inconsequential, out-of-the-meanstream, living-in-the-past, insensitive, trouble making kids who failed to submit to the demands of the dominant ethnic group for deference to the dominant’s ethno-centrism.

      In an enlightened, tolerant society, all those big-brained and ethically punctilious liberals from Stan-Ferd and Berk-U-Lee would be wringing their hands and deploring “bullying” by the “racial majority” and the attack on the “self-esteem” of the “few kids” who chose to “dissent” from imposed cultural conformity. (“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism”!)

      But no. Stan-Ferd is now just a high-priced tech school, and Berk-U-Lee has never been the same since the tree sitters were deprived of their superior moral perches and came down to earth.

      Can’t be bothered to waste any big-brained wattage or ethical punctiliousness on a “few kids” who we all know—wink, wink—are probably just “bitter clingers with antipathy to people who don’t look like themselves.”

    • Since when is patriotism disrespectful?

      Isn’t it funny that “safety” is always the reason given to shut down non-leftist expression?

    • > look at this for what it was—a few kids trying to cause a little trouble.

      Oh, wow!

      You do smug really well. 

      I’ll bet that you probably drive a Prius and listen to NPR.

    • Just Wondering said “we wouldn’t have have these silly discussions with comparisons to the teachings of Hitler.”

      So Hitler’s behavior toward the Jews and others is silly to you? How sad for you. My mother told me stories of having to sit through courses of brain washing by the Nazis party, and of her beautiful Jewish friends having to walk around in clothes with markings on them declaring them to be Jewish. She said the treatment they received was horrific, so do your homework before you decide to lecture those of us who can see the big picture and it’s frightening epilog. 

      Remember the old saying, “History repeats it’s self.” Welcome to a front row seat of history repeating it’s self.

      • Your response is so foolish that it barely merits a response. Suffice it to say that you completely missed the point which was that this little skirmish in Morgan Hill hardly rises to the level of comparison of the teachings of Hitler.
        Get off your high horse and don’t lecture me about Hitler or the Holocaust. I have studied with Holocaust survivors as well as taught on the subject. This is why your comparison is laughable—not what Hitler did but your comparisons.
        Your nonsensical comparison is an insult to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust as well as to those who survived. You may think you know everything about this topic but you clearly do not—in fact, you appear to know very little about it.
        You own an entire generation an apology for the drivel you have posted here!

        • Just Wondering,
          I think you ought practice what you preach. I’m not going to apologize for demanding that people pay attention to the squashing of people’s Civil or Human Rights by comparing this situation to that of the teachings of a lunic. I don’t think you are any more educated or qualified to speak on the topic than me or anyone else. You and I can be civilized enough to agree to disagree but personal attacks aren’t necessary. My opinion is just as valuable as yours, no more no less. Don’t turn this into a personal pissing match.

          This situation is a very serious violation of people’s rights being committed by schools and it needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. Now that so many in our country are screaming out at the injustice perpetrated on these youths, the district has apologized. As well they should because schools are meant to teach history, not mandate one’s beliefs, nor squash individuality or democracy. 

          If you don’t see the connection in my comparison, fine but do NOT lecture me on how I get to view this or express my outrage about it.

  13. Hey Joe,
    Thanks for the public service announcement.  Knowing exactly who not to vote for is a great timesaver.

    Keep ‘em coming.

  14. > Isn’t it funny that “safety” is always the reason given to shut down non-leftist expression?

    Very, very astute!  You have hit the nail on the head.

    If you were a rich liberal, we could probably arrange for you to get a Nobel Peace Prize or something.

    But you are correct.  The essence of “progressive-ism” is that it is a constant litany of alluring promises offering to somehow save people from some large, scary, overwhelming, and ultimately insoluble “risk”:

    “We’ll save you from old age poverty” (Social Security)

    “We’ll save you from hunger” (Food stamps)

    “We’ll save you from working too hard” (Unions)

    “We’ll save you from working too little” (Unemployment and Welfare)

    “We’ll save you from poor health” (Obamacare)

    “We’ll save you from racism” (Affirmative Action)

    “We’ll save you from ignorance” (Public education)

    “We’ll save you from rising sea-levels, disappearing polar bears, and hot weather” (Global warming)

    “We’ll save you from uppity rich people making you fell inadequate when they drive their nice cars” (Taxes)

    You are absolutely right.  The left is constantly promising to save us from something or other.

  15. Oh wow!

    Are the moonbats obsessing on Fox News or WHAT!

    Morgan Hill: With heavy police presence, students hold peace rally after flag flap

    By Bruce Newman and Lisa Fernandez
    Mercury News

    “The apology didn’t come in time to head off one of the boys and his mother from going on Fox News at sunrise, or to stop tea party patriots from planning to descend upon Morgan Hill today.”

    . . .

    “Reached by phone, Matthew said he and his mother were at a hotel doing satellite interviews with Fox News that began before dawn.”
    . . .

    Herhold: Morgan Hill school wrong in flag shirt flap

    By Scott Herhold
    Mercury News Columnist

    “One of the kids and his mother reportedly rose at 3 a.m. to appear on Fox News.”

    . . .

    “It allows patriotism to be used as a wedge by the partisans on Fox News.”

    • Apparent insider Pigg Malion recently hinted darkly that Barbara Marshman may NOT be in control of editorial things at the ever shrinking Merc.

      Could the Merc’s obsession with Fox News be a secret coded message to the outside world further hinting at Barbara Marshman’s powerlessness?

      Could it be evidence of a factional struggle within the Merc? 

      Could someone inside the Merc be trying to send a message to the suits way, way up there where the stings are pulled and the phone calls to Goldman Sachs are returned that Fox is a REAL news organization, and the Merc now just prints what Fox digs up?


      Dish, Deep Throat, Dish.

  16. > Are the moonbats obsessing on Fox News or WHAT!

    There was a time when the Mercury News was regarded as a “newspaper”, and newspapers hired reporters, and reporters did interviews.

    Now the Merc is publishing stories about OTHER news organizations doing interviews.

    Wouldn’t this be just a “dog bites man” story?

    It’s getting strange out there.

  17. Just Wondering you said,“Is this really about the First Amendment? Not likely. A few kids thought it would be cool to push the envelope and tweak the noses of those celebrating Cinco de Mayo.”

    What proof do you have to back this comment up?

    I wholeheartedly disagree with you. It is a 1st Amendment issue. As Joseph said,“Schools should be places that teach our democratic principles first and foremost. There is nothing more sacred than the first amendment of the U S Constitution.”