Craig Goldman's first year | June 17, 2011 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - June 17, 2011

Craig Goldman's first year

Mountain View Whisman superintendent draws praise, some criticism

by Nick Veronin

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."


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jun 21, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Craig is doing a fine job, he knows our district well and has done some great things for us. It is great that he is truly passionate about bringing up the low income and ELL education level and test scores.
I'd like to see those same kids also likely on the low cost lunch program get a more nutritional lunch, too. It Would be great if the district found a better hot lunch provider. Sedexo (I think is the provider name) is terrible. The menu looks great but it's horribly deceiving. The food is nearly inedible for all the students. It breaks my heart to see the teachers get a full on, near mandatory, parent provided, lunch buffet smorgasbord once every week, while the kids get a terrible hot lunch, or like our kids, get standard home bag lunches 180 days a year (they won't eat the hot lunches.) Too often our elementary school runs out of low low quality microwave burritos, mac and cheese, or white bread ham sandwiches, and I have seen kids crying going with out lunch. Though the lunch program indicates it meets nutrition requirements, you too will question that if you see what they pass off as nutritionally acceptable.
By comparison, Los Altos kids get a local restaurant food choice once a week or more, for just a couple dollars more....

All we ever hear about is bringing up the lowest test scores. I also hope the district will save some bandwidth and not forget to support the kids at the other end of the spectrum, raising their test scores too; engaging and supporting the brilliant stars of tomorrow, so all our MV kids can realize their "highest potential" as it states on their home page.

From the MVWSD home page:
" In the Mountain View Whisman School District, we prepare all children for the world ahead by providing the challenge, inspiration, and support our children need to reach their highest potential and thrive in a world of constant change.

Our District's mission is to "demonstrate, daily, a relentless commitment to the success of every child."

Posted by Parent, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 24, 2011 at 7:05 am

I agree that the Sodexo food is not great. The high school food is not great, either, and I don't think that is Sodexo.

As for the Los Altos hot lunch program -- that is a completely different animal, so it's not a fair comparison. Los Altos doesn't have enough low-income kids to get the type of food subsidy that MVWSD gets. PTAs run the "hot lunch" program there as a fundraiser. But even if the PTAs if MVWSD wanted to do this, by doing so I think they would jeopardize the lunch subsidy, and then the kids who need free or reduced lunch would be out of luck entirely; one of the strings attached to the subsidy is no outside food, and food cannot be taken off-site.

Find out what they are doing in Los Angeles -- I think that's where chef Jamie Oliver tried to pulicize the lunch food issue and get them to offer higher-quality food. Alice Waters was trying this also a few years back. If you are really interested, you should research the pitfalls and successes there and see if you can work with the district to make some improvements.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields