The Times has a good profile of the work that superintendent finalist, Jose Banda, has done in Anaheim.
Banda was born in Texas, the son of migrant farmworkers who had
little formal education. His first language was Spanish.
When he was 2, the family moved to California, where he has stayed.
His father began picking cotton at a ranch outside Bakersfield and
eventually was promoted to supervisor. During breaks and summers, Banda
and his six siblings worked in the fields, too.
"We really learned the hard work ethic," he said.
His parents also taught him the value of education.
"My opportunities came from having caring teachers," he said.
He has raised scores in a largely Latino community (although the district is less than half the size of SPS and serves only K-6 students). He seems to be respected by parents and labor partners (although the teachers union rep declined to comment for the story).
From the story:
Banda also has encouraged parents to become more engaged, in part by
offering an eight-week course on how best to advocate for their
children. More than 1,500 parents have gone through the program,
designed by the Parent Institute for Quality Education.
The effort has led to more vocal parents. Before Banda arrived,
School Board member Blumberg said, "At times I felt the district office
had this big old bubble around it. The community didn't come in,
stakeholders didn't come in."
Now, they do. And sometimes, they complain.
Banda has made it clear he's willing to listen. Last year, for
example, scores of parents asked to expand a small Spanish/English
"We as a board would probably have said there was no way," Blumberg
said, noting budget constraints. "But he found a way." Mostly it was by
juggling teachers and principals at key schools.
Considering the size of his district, that is a huge number of parents who stepped up to take the parent education course.
His district passed a bond measure in 2010 and he managed to win the support of Disney (Anaheim is where Disneyland is located).
Interesting, though, that he is in a conservative area and the articles says the local paper there barely covers the district. Welcome to Seattle, we're different.