SACRAMENTO — José González, Planada's school superintendent, has picked up some significant allies in his quest to better the lives of students in the community.
How about the governor, the director of the state Board of Education and the San Joaquin County superintendent of schools, who has ties to the Merced area?
González, in his third year as superintendent of the 800-student Planada district, met April 24 with Gov. Jerry Brown and two dozen other education leaders from throughout the state, just before Brown made an impassioned plea for his education funding formula that favors poorer districts with students deficient in English-language skills.
This was González' first time meeting Brown, who spoke privately with superintendents for about 45 minutes before championing his proposal to revamp state financing for schools.
Karen Staph Walters, the state Board of Education's executive director for two months, said González is passionate about the work he does and the students he serves, a quality she says he shares with Brown.
"I have a high regard for José," Walters said. "José could take his talents to a higher venue but he is committed to that community. He is one of those ideal educators."
González, 40, has 18 years in education. He's the president-elect of the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators. He has been involved with the Association of California School Administrators, where Walters served as interim director.
Mick Founts, San Joaquin County superintendent of schools, said he has known González for a while and is impressed with his talents.
Changes in education
Founts said he always is interested in listening to the governor's perspective and trying to understand what Brown's local control funding formula will mean to education.
"At least the concept makes sense. California is dead last in the nation for school funding," Founts said. "That's the real challenge. We (California) have the ninth-largest economy but our funding of education is like a Third World country. Brown's proposal gets us up to the 2007 level."
Founts said he grew up in Merced, went to Charles Wright Elementary School, Hoover Middle School and Merced High School before attending Merced College. His first job was picking peaches in the Planada area and he said he still has many friends here.
He said it was nice to be included in the governor's school funding discussion. He said unfortunately the San Joaquin Valley always struggles with funding.
González started his educational career as a teacher at Livingston High School. He served as the superintendent-principal of the Ballico-Cressey School District before moving to Planada.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.