When we moved here four years ago, we figured it would be a couple years of fun newlywed “training wheels” outside The City before finding a better school system. My wife grew up here and went to private schools her whole life. I am a public school kid and, frankly, I’m not all that excited to figure out how to both pay for private school and afford to live here.
That is why we were so excited to hear about Willow Creek from parents and kids in our neighborhood. They were having a great public school experience, riding their bikes to and from school, and hitting me up for the occasional fundraiser. That really helped us decide to put down permanent roots in Sausalito. After 2.5 years of renovations, we have no plans of moving.
I love this town. I’ve volunteered at the Art Festival a couple times, will be cooking in the chili cook off tomorrow for the second year in a row (Team Youngish – not talking politics, but come for the chili!), and currently serve on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, my first pubic post and a wild learning curve about the Brown Act and how things move so differently in government than they do in the startup world.
Along the way I heard a story about kids coloring in prime numbers during math class. I figured that was a fun thing for younger kids to do, but when the family friend told me it was 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at Bayside MLK in one room with no math teacher, I just couldn’t believe it. How is that the same district as Willow Creek? How is that preparing them for High School at Tam? I signed up to volunteer as a tutor with Bridge the Gap the next week. I was a tutor in high school, college, and a few more years after that, so it was fun, fit well into my schedule at the time, and let me learn a lot more about the big differences in our small district.
At the start of this year, I changed gigs from software startups to work for Common Sense Media, the nation’s leading non-profit for school aged kids and their families. This summer, I also became a new father to a now 12 week old baby boy named Taylor. He is going to be a public school kid here in a few years, and I am excited about being part of that experience. Earlier this summer, before Taylor showed up in late June, three different people over the course of a week suggested I run for school board. I brushed it off the first time, too much on my plate the second time, but was curious enough after the third to start asking more questions.
Among many other friends, neighbors and parents, I sought out folks that have been thinking about this and working in our schools for a while now. I talked with Jeff Knowles, a willow creek board member, smart guy, thinking about our schools for a long time, happy to have seen him around town several times since. Tara Seekins, head of school at Willow Creek, lives up to the rock star reputation she’s earned as a long time leader. David Finnane, principal at Bayside MLK, is newer to the post but has a great long term track record spending 8 years running an elementary school before another 8 running a middle school. Debra Turner, current non-WCA aligned board member, was incredibly thoughtful and passionate about providing opportunity for all students. And our interim superintendent, Tarena Mares, made time for me when she was fresh on the job after transitioning from an oversight capacity assigned by the county. Glad to have her in that post to maintain some continuity while we, as a district, find our footing again.
Which brings me to the upcoming election, since one of the first things our new board will do is find and hire a full-time Superintendent. After many conversations, and lots of reading, I just didn’t know which way to lean with my votes for the three open seats. One side has three Willow Creek aligned folks with great credentials, while the other side has two non-WCA aligned women that also have great credentials… and I was even vetted as a potential third for that slate. For me though, neither side made sense the more I thought about it.
So, with a new son bringing my months of curiosity into laser focus, I decided to run as an independent and filed on the last day possible. I couldn’t pick a side so I’m running without one. Both sides have big teams, are funded through lots of donations, and are anchored by incumbent candidates. I am doing this on my own, don’t want your money, and I’m looking at our old problems with new eyes.
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. – Ben Franklin
So… will I be lunch for the wolves? Will voters stick to the old sides? Or are you up for a new option? Do you think it’s time for a change? I do.