Contra Costa Community College District Leadership Forum

From the latest bulletin from John Gioia (my county supervisor here in Contra Costa County):

* There will be a public forum at noon on Thursday, March 3 to hear from the Contra Costa Community College District’s four finalists for the position of President of Contra Costa College. Attendees will be able to ask questions too. The finalists are: Dr. Celia Barberena, Krista Johns, J.D., Mojdeh Mehdizadeh, and Dr. Luis Pedraja. Click here for more information.

The public forum will be held at the Jean & John Knox Center, 2600 Mission Bell Drive, San Pablo, California.

This is an opportunity to pay attention to a tier of the education system that doesn’t get much civic attention (like the county office/board of education). The candidates are all “doctors” except for one, so I’m supporting her. 🙂 Ms. Mehdizadeh is also currently the interim president.

A key point to think about is what the place of community colleges in the overall system should be. Feeder for 4-year schools, extra high school babysitting for big kids, job training, competitor to existing 4-year schools for granting bachelor’s degrees… These are just a few of the purposes. It would be interesting to see how the candidates rank the different goals.

Another question to ask is about construction planning. There aren’t any extra parcel taxes for the district, but there are three bonds being paid off by taxpayers:

COMM COLL 2002 BND 0.0034%
COMM COLL 2006 BND 0.0076%
COMM COLL 2014 BND 0.0110%

This totals to .022% or $110 per year for an assessed value of $500,000.

Also, I like this trend of putting important administrative candidates out in a public forum. It’s part of their job anyway. Although, it would be nice if these forums were at some time we 9-5ers could make more easily.

Sending E-mails to the WCCUSD Board of Education and the County Board of Education

Mystery Education Theater 3000 2015-11-18 16-37-58

You may have seen this in the upper-right corner of the main page of the blog. What is it? The two main links allow you to click once and open your e-mail program with a fully-addressed template for sending to either the WCCUSD Board of Education or the Contra Costa County Board of Education. Here’s what clicking on the “WCCUSD Board of Ed.” link looks like in my e-mail program:

Compose_ Public Comment_ 2015-11-18 16.54.35

After “Public Comment:” in the subject line, I usually put the agenda item I’m commenting on and the date of the meeting in parentheses. You can do anything you want with the subject line including getting rid of “Public Comment:” In my e-mail program the addressees are displayed as bubbles with the names in them, but there really is an e-mail address there.

The secondary links point to the source on the respective websites where I got the addresses. You can go there for mailing addresses and other information.

I’m posting this now, because I recently updated the addresses. Start sending e-mails to your elected school officials now!

WCCUSD Construction Whistleblower Docs

Dennis Clay, project analyst in the district for 11 years, blew the whistle on alleged improprieties in the West Contra Costa Unified School District construction program in April of this year. I posted the contents of his submitted DVD and related files online here:

It’s almost July and still no clear definition of the forensic audit to be conducted from the school board, but at least it hasn’t been swept under the rug—not completely at least.



It’s Election Day 2014 in WCCUSD!

If you haven’t already voted, I’d like to encourage you to vote for:

Liz Block (El Cerrito)
Valerie Cuevas (Richmond)
Ayana Young (Hercules)

for the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) school board.

Here is my background in the school district.

The main thing about this election is that the district kingpin, Charles Ramsey, is out, but his machine remains: Madeline Kronenberg, his second wheel, Peter Chau, his designated heir, and that huge pile of construction-interest money that has flooded every school board election before. We have the opportunity to finish the exit of the Ramsey machine by rejecting his candidates and finding new leadership willing to focus the district on student achievement and not simply passing another bond…and another. In looking at the candidates I rejected the incumbents and the people I felt were using the Board as a stepping stone to higher office. Normally, this would be a little arbitrary, but I feel this is an important juncture and requires less tolerance for failed incumbency and using the school board as a politician’s bush league. I’m also looking for candidates who are more supportive of reining in our bond program and less interested in getting into silly battles like the Summit charter application.

Liz Block is someone who has worked as a principal turning around a school, doing what many of us (but not all) would like to do at the district level. She also has substantial experience working with special education issues as a school psychologist. Special eduction is an important and complex part of what a public school district does.

Valerie Cuevas is a director at an organization that advocates for educational opportunities for all (The Education Trust – West). She has also worked as staff for the Assembly committee on higher education and for a LAUSD school board member. Her knowledge of the ins and outs of educational policy should complement Todd Groves’ more homegrown wonkishness — well once the dust of the election campaign settles.

The third person I’m going with is Ayana Young, a lawyer and parent of children in the district. Her educational background is training in a Special Eduction masters program and working as a substitute teacher in Oakland and here. I like her as a candidate, because she is direct and honest.

When you look at a board, you have to think of how everyone will meld together. A mix of Randall Enos, Todd Groves, Liz Block, Valerie Cuevas, and Ayana Young would have the right balance of differences in perspective and style while still having common connections.

Whatever board is elected, it’s important to move beyond the hypocritical whining about the other guy’s campaign funding, but not your own. The board has received proposals before about addressing campaign finance. Now that the monopoly has become a duopoly, perhaps the board can finally take this issue up seriously.

Note: Yes, Cuevas and Block are benefiting from funding from the state charter school association and Steve Chamberlin’s group presumably, in part at least, because they are least likely to get “into silly battles like the Summit charter application” and they have a better chance of winning. For an excellent follow-up on the campaign finance story with all the numbers, check this CCT reporter’s blog post.

Your eyes are getting sleepy. Very sleepy. Listen to my voice. Now open your eyes. Fill in the ovals shown in the graphic. Now wake up when I snap my fingers.