The superintendent as teacher

Once a social studies teacher, California Superintendent Jack O’Connell teaches adult students preparing for the high school equivalency exam. The LA Times reports:

The Monday night classes offer a reality check for O’Connell, whose day job is filled with piles of paperwork, power lunches and endless meetings about education minutia.

O’Connell gets to see the challenges faced by people who never learned basic reading, writing and math skills.

The class format is fluid. On any given night, O’Connell might lecture about the Civil War to one group of students, review algebraic equations with another group and tutor a student individually in strategies to improve reading comprehension

. . . “I need more help over here,” Emilio Carbalia, 45, called out.

Carbalia, a high school dropout who has picked tomatoes, washed dishes and driven trucks over the last 25 years, was struggling with a division problem. He had to find out how many times 1,760 went into 15,840.

O’Connell sat shoulder to shoulder with the burly man wearing a Coca-Cola hat and used an analogy to give the numbers real-life meaning.

“If you had 1,760 people and 15,840 hot dogs, how many hot dogs would each person get?”

Carbalia looked perplexed. O’Connell showed Carbalia how to do the math, step by step. They arrived at the answer together: nine hot dogs per person.

“Oh!” Carbalia said, chuckling with delight, and then added to himself: “Boy, he’s pretty good with this stuff.”

The state superintendents in Rhode Island, Georgia and South Dakota also teach periodically, says the Times.

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  1. I’ve been watching this to see if anyone would comment. Days go by with not one comment. Nice guy Supt. loves to teach and goes out of his way to give a little more to the community. Nobody says a word here.
    Meanwhile, No Union in Chicago, the above post, has collected 52 comments so far, and the fur is still flying and temperatures rising.
    Oh well, as they say in the news business: If it bleeds, it leads.

  2. I was watching it too. No surprise here: most of the more rabid commenters care nothing about public education, and damn little about children. Evidence that decent people work in public ed, and in administration to boot? They don’t care.