The Daily Journal interview took place on October 1, 2019, and there were some pretty tough questions that hadn't been asked to-date. This was now the third time where Alison, Ken, and I were in the same room responding to the same questions. We're friendly with each other and tend to agree on some of the fundamental priorities for our district such as educator & staff retention, securing a long-term funding plan, putting a magnifying glass on district inequities, and needed facilities updates. I've really enjoyed being in these formats with them because it's always a respectful dialogue, even when we disagree or offer a different approach.
Questions asked included:
What is your understanding of the Local Control Funding Formula, and how has that affected education in California and this school district?
How are you going to support the success of both magnets balanced with the desire for a neighborhood school in North Central?
What strategies do you support to "grow good people" as opposed to just focus on academic achievement?
How do you equalize the disparity between higher and lower performing schools?
What kinds of traditions would you eliminate or retain?
What I appreciated about the Journal's approach was that they seemed interested in knowing how well we understood our school district - both the good and hard bits - and how we think about small, medium, and big evolution over time to improve educational and academic outcomes for our students. They got into the big picture and the details, and I enjoy moving between both because I believe the two are deeply interconnected.
I will admit that I walked out of that interview feeling like I didn't say everything I wanted to say. That said, I'm grateful to the journalists who thoughtfully considered our positions and offered the paper's endorsement.
Tsai brings a full platter to the table. She not only grasps the district’s myriad issues, but she can drill down on them in an understandable way with ideas on how to make improvements from top to bottom. One of her main goals is to maintain and increase support for new teachers as they get up to speed to not only increase their skills but to keep them happy and interested in staying with the district. She also has a keen grasp on the Local Control Funding Formula and its implications on student learning and how best to make allocations to maximize benefits. She is immersed in Local Control and Accountability Plan data as a way to bridge the achievement gap and achieve equity in our diverse schools — in both the macro level through programming and at the micro level in ideas such as computer loans for families who need it. She is a strong proponent in cross-school collaboration to improve relationships in the district, promote success throughout and increase communication and transparency. Tsai will hit the ground sprinting and get others to run along with her.
Read the full article here.