January 3, 2011
Well, we are back! Hopefully, you are rested and ready for 2011.
The New Year offers vast opportunities and challenges. As always, the roles we play in children's lives and the importance of our work to their futures and to this community is the greatest gift we give and, in another sense, we receive. Each of us gets to touch the lives of human beings in ways that are unique to our field and our mission. I have always believed it was important to remind myself of that responsibility and that benefit. It helps to provide sustenance during the more challenging moments.
At the end of this month, the Governing Board has scheduled a retreat that will be designed to develop both short and long-term District goals. It is my expectation that we will be talking about a number of critical issues for each of us and for our district. Among the topics to be discussed and the goals to be developed, it is likely that we will be expected to examine ways to improve student achievement across the District. The implementation of a systematic and powerful professional development process is a key to that effort. It is also going to be essential that we examine our district approach to curriculum and how we assess our students to ensure that we are all working together to achieve our overall educational mission.
Further, I am sure that you realize the financial realities of declining budgets across the state and the impact that will have on our district operations. Financial decisions that involve decreases to operational budgets can only be accomplished effectively if we are committed, to the extent possible, to working together to address the challenges. If we are successful in that effort, we can emerge stronger as a result.
One of the other immediate challenges involves our District Ethnic Studies Program. I am sure you know the outgoing State Superintendent of Public Instruction has declared the Mexican-American Ethnic Studies courses unlawful. Last Thursday our Governing Board passed a resolution declaring that our District is in compliance with the law. We believe strongly that we have an obligation to our students and our community to defend this program. We will be committing our District resources to this effort and informing you of the results as they develop.
In the spirit of "resolutions," this time of the year seems to invite personal promises to one's self that are designed to either increase good behavior or decrease bad behavior. As we all reflect on the past year and look forward to this new year, I would ask that we all consider how we can work together to support each other in direct and indirect ways. If we recognize that our unity is our strength and that there are few, if any, challenges that we cannot face successfully if we do so together, our behavior will tend to support that belief. As I assume the position as your Superintendent, the promise that I make to you is that I will work to the best of my ability to serve you in a manner that honors you and the work that you do. You should expect no less of me and, in turn, I expect no less of you. When I have been asked what has surprised me the most since I began to work in this district last month, my response is that I am impressed with the strength of the people who work here. I have been impressed with the quality of the work I have seen and the level of commitment to it. I have also been struck by a sense that we expect to do great things individually, just not together. There is a culture, that seems to be accepted by many people, that our schools or our departments do good work but there is little consideration of how we fit together with others. If this is the case and my perceptions are true, I think we can all see the direction that we need to go. As we stand on the threshold of 2011, the opportunities for our district far outnumber the challenges if we face them together and with a commitment to our common purpose.
Have a wonderful semester, and I look forward to meeting you and working with you.