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Santa Clara Education Desk: Jan 1, 2014

Mission College Speaker Program Features Former Cisco Senior VP George O’Meara

“Life is my college,” the American writer Louise May Alcott once said. She certainly would have gotten an endorsement for this from last month’s speaker at the Mission College Center for Innovation Technology’s (MC2IT) speaker former Cisco Senior VP George O’Meara.

O’Meara led the telecommunications giant’s Canadian and U.S. $6 billion services business and recently launched his own management consulting business – Ready, Set, GO’Meara (www.gomeara.com). He’s also the author of “Collaborative Leadership – Lessons from the Street to the Boardroom.” With its conversational and anecdote-rich style, O’Meara could also have called it, “Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned in a Chicago Schoolyard.”

O’Meara’s message last month was simple: There’s no “formula” for leadership success. In fact, today’s formula for success can very likely be tomorrow’s formula for failure – something that’s been amply demonstrated in the rise and fall of many companies that were once household names in Silicon Valley.

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Instead of seeking formulas for success, O’Meara counseled his listeners to develop the “soft skills” – relationships, teamwork, collaboration, and fostering innovation – that are central to his concept of collaborative management.” And, he said, it’s going to be uncomfortable because most of the time you’ll be doing something different from anything you’ve done before – which is the whole point of innovation.

Mission College Brings Tech Biz Reality to Students

The Mission College Center for Innovation and Technology (MC2IT) helps students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduate from school with real-world experience already under their belts. The program’s innovative intern program lets students take on projects with local tech companies that wouldn’t otherwise get done. There’s also an innovation lab where students gain the experience of working collaboratively on projects.

“MC2IT is all about helping students develop skills that match up with employers’ needs,” says Mission College President Daniel Peck. “It works for businesses and it works for students. Businesses get projects done, and students get resume-quality experience. Students learn skills that are needed to be successful in today’s career environment, an have direct pathways into careers.”

Entrepreneurship guidance and support is available from Mission College’s corporate partners and companies that have made the transition from startup to established business. Community workshops provide opportunities for local residents to learn business skills and best practices.

One of MC2IT’s most interesting programs – and one which is free and easily accessible to the community at large – is its speakers series, held at the Santa Clara Convention Center’s Betty Hangs Theater. These quarterly programs bring in proven technology and business innovators to share their insights, experience, knowledge and tips for success.

“We want our students to learn from people who are successful in the Silicon Valley technology world,” says Peck. The next program will be March 6 at 6:00 p.m., featuring computer science pioneer Bill Inmon, known as the father of data warehousing, speaking on “Business Value of Big Data.”

The program also aims to bring value to local businesses and residents by aligning education with emerging technology and jobs, as well as providing a distinctive Silicon Valley center for developing STEM intellectual assets and innovation.

“[Community College Board] Trustee Chad Walsh has been a real advocate for STEM and in keeping us innovating and working on new programs,” says Peck. Indeed, Walsh, now in his second term as a West Valley-Mission Community College District Trustee, is himself living proof of the value of community college STEM programs.

A marginal high school student – “I barely graduated,” he says – a STEM course at a local community college was his turning point, leading to a B.S. in Engineering from UC San Diego, an M.S. in Engineering from Santa Clara University, and a law degree also from SCU. Walsh’s law firm, Fountainhead Law Group, specializes in intellectual property and the commercialization of technology.

For more information, contact Len Duncan, MC2IT Executive Director; (408) 855-5319; len.duncan@mc2it.org

SCUSD Board Planning Retreats

On Dec. 17, the SCUSD board held a strategic planning “retreat” to discuss board and staff goals for the coming year “incorporating the outcomes of initial surveys, observations, resulting goals and plans of action reported by the Assistant Superintendents of HR, Business and Educational Services.”

The board has two more “retreats” planned on Feb. 7, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. and Feb.8, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. The meetings are in the district office boardroom and open to the public. The next regular meeting of the SCUSD board is Jan 14, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.

Jan.9 SCUSD Board Meeting to Feature MetroEd and Special Ed Overviews, Policies, New UTSC Contract

At the next SCUSD Board Meeting, Metropolitan Education District Superintendent Alyssa Lynch will present a report about MetroEd’s programs.

This is of particular interest because the school funding restructuring law Gov. Jerry Brown signed last year calls for the consolidation of adult education programs under community college districts. So existing adult ed programs are actively communicating the unique characteristics of their programs, as well as looking for complementary ways to operate with the community college system.

Also at that meeting SCUSD Co-Directors of Special Education Patricia Smith and Cathy Welply will present an extensive overview of the continuum of special education services offered in SCUSD, including the requirements for funding under the federal 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and student identification, enrollment and monitoring. As of 2012, SCUSD had 2,608 students enrolled in special education programs. This is a 58 percent increase since 2006.

The board will also consider policy updates based on the new state Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) with regard to accountability, budgeting, and charter school authorization and oversight. There was a recent situation where a Campbell charter school closed and the Campbell Union High School District refused to accept the students’ coursework credits.

The policy concerning complaints against district employees is also part of this round of policy updates. This would be at least the third time this policy has been discussed. Trustee Ina Bendis has repeatedly objected to mandating a process through the district administration that must be followed, and doesn’t allow trustees discretion to assist people in making their complaints or investigating complaints on their own.

“We have had recent situations where employees rights were violated…under complaints. I don’t want them [complainants] to be just informed,” said Trustee Andy Ratermann at the Oct. 10, 2013 meeting. “I want this to be an obligation of board members to adhere to policy. As individual board members we have zero authority and we should have no involvement in investigating.”

Allegations have been made at board meetings over the last year that Bendis and Trustee Christopher Stampolis have tried to conduct their own investigations against district staff, and have influenced, and even composed, complaints against district staff by parents.

Agreement With Teachers Union Reached

After considerable contention, SCUSD has come to a contract agreement with its certified employees, represented by the United Teachers of Santa Clara. The proposed contract includes: A 4.48 percent raise retroactive to July 2013; a restructured salary schedule, with increases at each level of 3 percent; and the district will contribute about $100 more a month for employee medical insurance.

You can get the agenda reports at (Part 1) tinyurl.com/kjzv4pv and (Part 2) tinyurl.com/krzp6xk. The SCUSD agenda reports aren’t digital text files, and the agenda doesn’t have hot links to background material. However, one way to convert the voluminous packet to searchable text is using Adobe Acrobat Pro. From the Document menu select OCR Text Recognition.

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