Last week, a bunch of us had the rare and special opportunity to hear from a leader who has taken his personal success and channeled it into his community’s success when Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, came to my home for a salon gathering. What I was especially excited about is that he shares the belief that, at the core of that community’s success, is quality and high-expectation-filled education. He shared how, what they’re doing in education in Sacramento, is on track to wipe out the achievement gap and set the whole community on a path for economic and quality-of-life growth.
As a Seattle SuperSonics fan in the 90s, I used to groan when I knew the Phoenix Suns were coming because I knew that Kevin Johnson had our number. He’d steal the ball like candy from a baby. But then – when he eventually hung up his sneakers in 2000, he chose to go back to Sacramento and get involved in transforming the schools there. He helped bring in innovation into the schools and improved outcomes for the students who, previously, had the worst trajectories. Over time, he chose to take that action to higher office and became Mayor of Sacramento – where he continues to champion and focus on the economic ecosystem – and education’s role as a fuel pump in that system.
When he was here, I realized: THAT’S the type of leadership we need in Seattle. Someone who’s going to question the status quo and collaborate with other community leaders to see what can lead to quantum, and not just incremental, improvements. Someone who understands the balance between making sure the trains run on time AND testing out high speed rail – but applying that to education.
I also realized how important it is to fund and support leadership like KJ’s, even in another city, because we can learn from him and build bridges with him. It’s a rare and important opportunity to support a rising star with profoundly aligned values – one who has the chutzpah to steal the ball when needed, and the kindness to know when to hand it to the little kid under the hoop for an assist. It’ll be key to both keep him in office as well as show the base of support that he has – even beyond Sacramento.
All that said about KJ, I got to see my own little rising star at that gathering when my son, unbeknownst to me, came up with speech in hand to share in front of the group. Since I can’t even sort of do it justice, I’ll simply share with you a photo (thank you George Griffin!) and the text of what he shared. Enjoy! And then think about how/whether you will support those suggested by my son below AND whether you will support www.teamkj.org
“OK who here votes for Kevin Johnson, he is a supporter in learning! So lets get him to be mayor – he supports learning and he probably would like this! Many teachers have formed a group because they believe it is more about the kids and less about the teachers. They believe that it’s not right to tell kids, “hey I’m just going off for 8 days leaving kids with a sub.” I have some bad memories with subs, but that’s a different story. The leader of those teachers quit his favorite thing, teaching, to start this foundation to a better world! Teachers all over the world are helping and you can help too. 1. You can donate to any school 2. You can spread the word by emailing or texting or by just talking about it. So a gold star to learning!”
– Sidney LeVine
<for more by Sidney LeVine – be sure to check out his educational (and quite catchy) song “A Bee Goes Buzz”>