Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for April 10th, 2014

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

Accepting the Position of Coordinator of Academics with Highlands Community Charter School

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Temporary Logo of Highlands Community Charter and Technical SchoolsThis last Saturday, the board of Highlands Community Charter and Technical Schools (HCCTS) voted to establish several positions, and offered me the position of Coordinator of Academics.  While I have been involved with this project for some time (and sit on the non-profit board), with the number of setbacks we had along the way, there were times I was not sure it was going to happen.  And, due to this, I had taken the position of Full-Time Faculty of Information Technology with Heald College Online (which I am now leaving).  I am appreciative that the board of HCCTS (in which I was not involved in making this decision) sees the value that I can contribute as an employee, and further wishes me to stay on the non-profit board.

I know there will be challenges that I will face in this position. The first is how to best ensure appropriateness in both being an employee of the non-profit and a board member.  This is not an unusual situation for Charter Schools, as California law allows up to 49% of a non-profit board to be composed of employees (and our board has only 2 out of the current 7 board members being employees).  Further, some evidence suggests that having employees on the board has a correlation with good performance of a charter school.

But still, I take conflict of interest very seriously, and so I need to walk that important tight rope of “wearing 2 hats”, making sure that my decisions as a board member are the right ones for the organization.  And, if a decision would impact me directly (such as this offer of employment), that I am uninvolved in any deliberation of the matter and recuse myself from any vote.

Written by Jacob Walker

April 10th, 2014 at 6:14 am