Welcome to the twentieth episode of The Gap Minders! Today we have the amazing chance to chat with the inspiring Dr. Paul Gothold, the superintendent of the San Diego County Office of EducationListen to “Episode 20 | Dr. Paul Gothold, Superintendent, San Diego County Office of Education” on Spreaker.>
In this incredibly insightful episode, Nancy and Jose are joined in studio by Dr. Paul Gothold, the Superintendent of the San Diego County Office of Education – the de facto leader for one of the largest educational regions in the United States. The son of two music educators, he resisted the call to education until a fateful call to become a water polo coach for which he gave up a well-paying job as an investment counselor. Thus began a career focused on lifting students for whom the system is stacked against. From a substitute teacher in Los Angeles for probationary youth to Superintendent, Paul is all about knocking down hurdles and the labeling of students which serve to discourage instead of encourage.
Fueled by a passion and mindset that education is “social mobility” with success best achieved through high expectations, the elimination of resource gaps and an environment where students can thrive, Paul is leading SDCOE with these principles in mind. And if students are to thrive, then schools need to deliver not just academics, but love, support and a true sense of belonging for each and every student. Only 62% of San Diego students say they feel a sense of belonging to their school – a number which Paul feels needs to be 100%.
What else do we learn from this innovative thinker? That he is not too keen and a bit skeptical on the rush to “social emotional learning” since they often come from a deficit perspective framed around “let me fix you.” From buzzword to billion-dollar cottage industry, Paul is very much about strengths, not deficits. And how does he feel about “achievement gaps”? Not much! He says that discussions of achievement gaps are a displacement of responsibility to the students instead of focusing on the access, opportunity and resource gaps which rob the opportunity for achievement. Quite the powerful thought.
Here are some other amazing takeaways from the interview with Dr. Paul Gothold:
- The importance of embracing the whole student in preparing them for life
- His views on the hurdles put in from of some students, AP classes being an example
- The need for humility and vulnerability as educators design ideas for improvement
- Why reducing poverty and the need for free and reduced lunch is an important metric
- The answers to the Rapid Fire questions!
A truly insightful conversation from a phenomenal gap minder. Thank you, Dr. Paul Gothold, for your contributions to the world of education and for fighting every single day to give all students a shot at a great life, and for joining us on The Gap Minders.
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