Congressman Mark DeSaulnier visits Monte Vista


Gina Matteo, Editor in Chief

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier visited Monte Vista on February 17, his first stop on his Educational Listening Tour.

Elected as a member of  the 114th Congress early this year, DeSaulnier was appointed to serve on the Education and Government Reform Committees. DeSaulnier represents California’s 11th congressional district, which consists of parts of Contra Costa County, one of which is Danville.

The Educational Listening Tour allowed DeSaulnier to visit school campuses all over the Bay Area to get insight on the students, parents, and members of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

“This tour will help educate me on the best ways to serve the residents of my district,” DeSaulnier said in an official press release. “[It] will allow me to share with my colleagues the successes of California’s educational system”.

The Congressman toured Monte Vista with Principal Janet Terranova and Superintendent Mary Shelton, where he explored the campus and was able to get one-on-one within classes.

He visited Intro to Engineering and was able to see the Robotics team in action and also sat-in on english class, Women’s Literature, where the students spoke about women’s roles in society.

Congressman DeSaulnier held a roundtable discussion after school, where members of the district, teachers, and students were able to share their opinions on what can be added to help improve the San Ramon Unified School District.

“The Congressman would like to hear your thoughts and needs on what is needed for education from the federal level,” Director of Communications & Community Relations Elizabeth Graswich wrote in an email, announcing the tour.

The No Child Left Behind Act was discussed, since recently the Obama administration has invited states to renew their waivers for the Act, where new guidelines will be enacted.

District members also addressed the rise of special needs students, and how special needs programs have not been adequately funded in the past years. Because special needs is now branching into mental illness, educators are trying to identify more students that need extra help.

“I want kids to learn math, but more importantly, I want them to survive,” Charlotte Wood Middle School Principal Chris George said.

With the chance to make changes to the No Child Left Behind Act, many educators are striving to change how mental illness is being addressed in schools, as well as more funding and a variety of outlets for different types of special needs students.

Common Core has also been a popular topic within the school district. Teachers at the roundtable confronted the fact that Common Core is not going to happen overnight, and educators will not witness major improvements with one year. Rather, Common Core will happen over time, and elementary and middle school students are more likely to succeed because they have been introduced to Common Core standards earlier.

“We will have more kids college ready, but it won’t [happen] tomorrow,” Diablo Vista Middle School Principal Becky Ingram said.

The roundtable discussion allowed Congressman DeSaulnier to understand the needs and wants of educators, and will help him make important decisions regarding education in the future.

“[Education] is more than teaching,” DeSaulnier said “It is the foundation of what we believe in.”