Jacob J. Walker's Blog

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Archive for the ‘Twin Rivers USD’ Category

Twin Rivers IS doing Good things with Good People

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I am glad to see the Sacramento Bee running an article about the top notch leadership team that Twin Rivers now has.

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Written by Jacob Walker

July 12th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Whether the flyers against Elkarra were real or a rouse, Islamaphobia is quite real.

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The recent school board special election between Basim Elkarra and Sonja Cameron has been described by one legislator as the ugliest school board race he had ever seen.  Both Sonja and Basim took the brunt of smear tactics when flyers were sent by an unknown 3rd party that alleged that Basim had connections with terrorism.  This then led to some people believing that Sonja was somehow the culprit, despite Basim clearly stating that she wasn’t involved.

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Written by Jacob Walker

May 19th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Posted in Twin Rivers USD

It is doubtful that Maiman’s theory was right… But he should not have been fired from The Sacramento Bee for a supposed “conflict of interest”.

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On April 28, Bruce Maiman tweeted “Beware the reaction when someone raises questions” and then linked to his Op-Ed piece in The Sacramento Bee about his theory that the Islamaphobic attack flyers against Basim Elkarra might have been sent by someone from Basim Elkarra’s own group.  I am sure when he wrote that tweet, he didn’t know how much he had to beware himself.

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Written by Jacob Walker

May 1st, 2015 at 5:59 am

Posted in Twin Rivers USD

Why I Think Twin River’s Current Special Election is Bad

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I believe there are times for special elections and recalls, but only when an individual has done something truly egregious, otherwise I agree with Bruce Maiman that generally special elections just waste tax payer dollars and lead to lower voter turnout.

Although, there have been times in the past that I supported a special election, such as work to remove Cortez Quinn.  But, I think the fact that he was ultimately convicted of a felony justifies thinking it would have been good to have a recall.  (Although the problem solved itself)

But, right now I see a huge waste of tax payer dollars  in the Twin Rivers Unified School District.  The special election is estimated to cost about $113,000.  This could pay for another teacher or two in Twin Rivers, or buy over 200 net books.  But instead, the political forces of California have rammed through a special election to work to get an “up and coming” Democrat into an office.  And while I tend to vote for Democrats, this is just so clearly politically motivated, and not about the kids, I am a bit sick.   For this reason, and because Sonja Cameron is clearly the more qualified candidate for this position, I am endorsing Sonja Cameron (which I will talk more about soon.)

Written by Jacob Walker

April 10th, 2015 at 9:51 am

Today’s Bee Article about Twin Rivers, Dr. Martinez, and John Dexter

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Michelle Rivas for Twin Rivers School Board - Area 2I have been hesitant to “take sides” in the race between John Dexter and Michelle Rivas.  But, I don’t think I can be quiet any longer about John Dexter.

I have been working with a great team over the past two years to start Highlands Community Charter School, which has been designed to “serve the unserved”, and will make the Twin Rivers district additional income, while helping the parents of the district.  And by serving these unserved populations, we also are helping to change “tax takers to become tax makers”, which saves money for the State of California.

And, Superintendent Martinez “gets it”.  He is strongly supporting having Highlands Community Charter School succeed, because he knows that when the parents of the district learn more, their children will learn more.  This is simple fact.   As today’s article in the Sacramento Bee shows, Dr. Martinez works for systemic solutions, without attempting to get political gain, just to have gains for the students.

But, as Maiman’s Article also points out, John Dexter is still trying to back stab others for political gain, instead of truly working to solve problems.  First, I want to say that when John Dexter first started on the Twin Rivers board, I thought he was someone we could work with.  At the time, he seemed reasonable.

But, it was John Dexter who brought Joe Williams into the district, because John’s wife, Nancy, was Joe William’s secretary.  And it was Joe Williams that nearly killed Adult Education in the district, and who did everything he could to prevent Highlands Community Charter School from starting, despite it being a win-win for the district, the school, the community, and the State. And it is John Dexter that still supports Joe Williams, despite Joe not paying his fair share into his retirement.  Despite, Joe now being on “stress” leave, because he twisted the words of a community activist to serve his own agenda.

John Dexter publicly says he supports Superintendent Martinez, so that he could get the Bee’s initial endorsement, and he only temporarily supported Highlands Community Charter School to get labor union support.  But, he is now again trying to use our charter school as some sort of political pawn, and it seems pretty clear that he would still much rather see Joe Williams as superintendent than to truly support Dr. Martinez.

I am tired of this.  I just want to do the right thing, and build a school that can truly change people’s lives for the better.  While I know the district had some major growing pains when the unification happened with Rivas being the board president, and I had some serious issues with then Superintendent Frank Porter’s treatment of adult education, I also know that Rivas is dedicated to the students of the Twin Rivers District, and recognizes that educating parents directly translates into better education for kids.  This is why she needs to be re-elected.

While I try to not write anyone off, it would honestly take a lot of work on John Dexter’s part to truly show me that he thinks about students first, and not politics.  It would take recognizing and denouncing the damage that Joe Williams did to our district, and to truly support Superintendent Martinez, for example, by truly supporting Highlands Community Charter School.

Written by Jacob Walker

May 20th, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Why I believe Twin Rivers is Mostly on the Right Path to Improvement

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Twin Rivers LogoOn Monday, I went to the Grant High School Community Update, hosted by Sacramento Council Member Allen Warren and Twin Rivers Superintendent Dr. Martinez.  I personally thought it was a very good and positive community forum.

Although, as the Bee reported, there were several tough questions (which there should be), I really thought that Dr. Martinez was able to give honest answers that were the right answers for how to move Twin Rivers forward.  Specifically, he and his staff are looking not only to how to solve the short-term problems, but of equal (and actually more) importance, he is working to solve systemic problems. He is also not putting energy into the “blame game”, as that is counterproductive at the moment to fixing the issues from the past.

I don’t blame parents and community members for being upset, but there are not “magic bullets” to solving long-standing problems, and the community needs to give Dr. Martinez and the board enough time to solve the problems that exist.  The interesting thing from a psychological perspective, is that systems thinking answers are not those that seem the most strong when shared at a forum like this, but in fact, true systems thinking is the the only long-term solid answer to problems.

Those in Twin Rivers who care about the future of the students, need to put aside politics, and instead look at how each can work together to improve the future for the students of the district.  This is not easy to do in an election year of the board, when slate politics can rear its ugly head.

But, I have seen signs that those on “opposing” sides can work together.  For example, it was just last year that Trustee Linda Fowler nominated Rebecca Sandoval to become Board President, despite the two of them being on different slates in the past election. And I think Linda and the board made the right choice in this, as I posted previously.

I was also impressed that the Twin Rivers Board this year gave unanimous approval of the Highlands Community Charter School petition.  (Of course, I have a little bit of a bias in favor of this decision, but I think any rational person who looked at all the facts would agree it was a good decision for the community and the district.)  If the Twin Rivers Board can continue to work with Dr. Martinez and his new management team, then I know that while it will take time, Twin Rivers can succeed.

Written by Jacob Walker

April 10th, 2014 at 7:50 am

Posted in Twin Rivers USD

Some Background about Rebecca Sandoval and Why She Should be Re-Elected to the Twin Rivers USD Board

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Picture of Trustee SandovalPrevious to coming to Heald College Online, I was with Twin Rivers Unified School District for many years. And, in my time with the district, I became, in many ways, the unofficial spokesperson to the Board for the Adult School.  Thus, I have gotten to know most of the board members, and I think I can honestly and accurately share about each of their strengths and problems.

Of all the Twin Rivers board members, the one who has impressed me most is Rebecca Sandoval.  She is a person who lives her convictions.  When she first got elected to the board, she told me that she would work to “give the Adult School Programs the resources and attention it deserves.”  I honestly didn’t believe her at the time, as we had many politicians make empty promises to us. But I was wrong.  She has supported the adult school students and teachers continually, even when it wasn’t popular, just as she has done the same for all the students of Twin Rivers.

This has been her record: to look carefully at the issues, determine what is the right thing to do, and then do it, despite what direction the political wind at the time is blowing.

I will be sharing more in future blog postings about Trustee Sandoval, along with some of my thoughts on the other candidates who are running in the upcoming Twin Rivers Board Election.

Written by Jacob Walker

January 24th, 2014 at 11:30 am

Posted in Twin Rivers USD

Quote of the Day: “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

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Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.

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Written by Jacob Walker

November 21st, 2013 at 11:59 am

Last Night’s Twin Rivers Board Meeting

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Today has been fairly busy, so I haven’t had a chance to post about last night’s board meeting.  The big news, was that the board voted 5 to 1 to ask Cortez to resign, although this was only a symbolic motion, because a board cannot remove a fellow board member unless they are convicted of a crime, and that has not yet occurred.

The other news, that wasn’t on the news, was that Marla Miller and Craig Murray presented about rebuilding Twin Rivers Adult School.  Here was my public comment about their presentation:

Board members and Dr. Martinez, thank you for the time to speak this evening,

I think that what is being talked about is a step in the right direction.   I want to encourage you to take more steps, as Twin Rivers can become a model for other districts, if sufficient investment is made.

The first part of investment is money, and the presentation didn’t give any specifics on this.  As a matter of transparency that you have talked about I think the amount of funding you plan to give the adult school should be shared.

But, money is not the only part of an investment.  The next part of investment needs to be in people.  The adult school has excellent teachers, but most have either been laid off or are only being given a bare number of hours.  To rebuild an adult program of excellence, there needs to be an investment in our excellent instructors, and thus they need to have contract positions.

Further, money and talent can be wasted without having the right systems of support being in place.  This means that the adult school must be given sufficient priority within the district, where decisions can be made in a timely fashion, and in an authoritative manner.  While I, and I think all in the Adult School, recognize that the children must be the first priority, we also recognize that we can be an integral part of this system such that our parents and other adults have an opportunity to help their families to succeed.  The first hundred days has brought us to the beginnings of a plan to rebuild the adult school, we now need the next hundred days to be able to do the right things so that the school will truly grow.

Written by Jacob Walker

November 20th, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Twin Rivers USD

Petition asking for Cortez Quinn to Resign

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As I have been posting about recently, Cortez Quinn has come afoul of the law.  And while some may find the soap opera slightly entertaining, it isn’t what the Twin Rivers district needs.  I believe that Cortez should make the honorable decision and resign, so that his personal issues do not entangle further with the needs of our district.  I am asking others to ask him to do the same, as the children of an already embattled district will continue to pay the price for issues that they shouldn’t, until the scandals of the district are resolved.  Cortez resigning is the right way to resolve one of them now.

Update: While a little late, I should mention that the Sacramento Bee also asked Cortez to resign.

Written by Jacob Walker

November 19th, 2013 at 9:59 am

Posted in Twin Rivers USD