Nearly a year after taking the helm of the Mountain View Whisman School District, Craig Goldman feels he has done a good job as superintendent, though he says there is plenty of work still to be done.
On June 13, Goldman sat down with the Voice to reflect upon the 2010-11 school year. He discussed what he has learned during his first year as superintendent, what he feels he has accomplished and outlined some of his plans for improving the district in the years to come.
Goldman acknowledged that the district has a long way to go when it comes to educating low-income students and English language learners. According to the superintendent, only about 18 percent of low-income eighth graders are performing at or above grade level in his district.
"That's an unacceptable number," he said.
It's something Mountain View Whisman schools have been struggling with since before his predecessor, Maurice Ghysels, took over the superintendent job six years ago.
"That still continues to be a challenge," Goldman said. "The difference between now and then is that we have a plan that we are already beginning to implement."
Goldman, along with administrators Phyllis Rodgers, director of the district's English language learners program, and Mary Lairon, assistant superintendent, worked with the Santa Clara County Office of Education and visited several similar school districts around the state to see how they were dealing with the issue.
Goldman and his team came up with a program they call "explicit direct instruction," or EDI. Over the next few months, Mountain View Whisman instructors will teach math to summer school students while simultaneously receiving instruction and coaching on their teaching methods.
"It's not a solution that comes overnight," said Goldman, who is particularly optimistic about the program. "But we think that EDI will transform our district, and, over time, we will drastically improve our outcomes, not just for low-income kids, but for all of our students."
Identifying himself as "an instructor at heart," Goldman said his primary goal is to ensure that every student leaves eighth grade equipped with the knowledge they need to succeed in college-track courses. He plans to have enough time to reach that goal; Goldman, 51, said he hopes to serve as superintendent of the district until his retirement.
Steve Nelson, whose three sons went to Bubb Elementary and Graham Middle School, is an active participant in local politics and regularly voices his concerns and opinions on issues impacting local school districts, including Mountain View Whisman.
While Nelson thinks highly of Goldman and credits the superintendent for pushing the City Council to give local schools their fair share of the revenues from the Shoreline Community special district, he disagrees with Goldman on some issues.
Nelson said he believes that Goldman should not have advocated for the Mountain View Whisman School District to drop Title I funding -- a move Goldman backed because he believed it was not worth dealing with the strings attached to the additional $450,000 in government funding for the district's neediest schools.
Ellen Wheeler, president of the Mountain View Whisman school board, believes in Goldman's ability and is happy to hear that he plans on staying with the district for the foreseeable future.
"I hope that Craig stays with us for a long time," she said. His background in education, his experience as a teacher, and then as a principal and chief financial officer for the district, make him an ideal candidate she said. She noted that the average turnover for a school superintendent in California is 18 months.
"Finding a new leader every 18 months is disruptive," Wheeler said. "I think he's doing an excellent job. He's a bright guy."