Jose Granda Beyond Measure E


By Jose Granda, PhD 

GUEST COMMENTARY – I want to have an open line of communication with Davis voters so that they get to know me beyond the issue of Measure E.  Position on a measure is a miniscule part of being qualified to lead the schools and impact the lives of students making a difference from the status quo.  For this reason I also think Claire Sherman has the right qualifications to be a School Board member even if we are on separate sides of Measure E.

I am a product of the American Dream.  I immigrated to the United States invited as a Foreign Exchange Student at the age of 16.  I did not know English at the beginning of the school year but in three months of immersion and not finding anyone to speak my native Spanish language I learned English quickly.  I graduated from high school in Dayton, Ohio.  I attended engineering school at UC Berkeley where I obtained my Master in Mechanical Engineering and the PhD degree also in Mechanical Engineering at UC Davis.  I became a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at California State University, Sacramento since 1982.

NASA invited to become a NASA Faculty Fellow since 2002 and that means, I am part of their engineering team, my students and I worked on the Space Shuttle and the Space Station Program doing the computer simulations of the maneuvers in space.  In 2005, the dream of my life came through.  I always dreamed to be an engineer in Mission Control.  That was my dream when I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.  Little did I know that in 2005, the dream will become a reality as I was part of the engineering team in Mission Control in Houston during the STS-114 mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery.  I learned a lot as an engineer and learned to make tough decisions, those that can make you lose sleep when you are to bring the astronauts and the vehicles safely to earth. Being there and learning how to assess risk and make decisions had an impact on my career and on me as a person.

We continue new projects with them.  A NASA faculty fellow works at the university when school is in session and at the NASA centers when invited during the summers.  Because of my position as a professor, I acquired another responsibility with NASA as part of their Education Department and outreach to young people to motivate them to study STEM careers.  In the last ten years I have been going to Kindergartner, Elementary and High Schools in the US and overseas, wherever they invite me to teach children about space and to set a spark in them to motivate them and let them know that math, physics, and aeronautics are a lot of fun.  That has been a reward of my career.  One of the biggest highlights of this experience happened just six weeks ago.  I was invited to be the Keynote Speaker and a judge at the scientific Olympics.  Did you know there is such a thing as the Olympics of Science Astronomy and Aeronautics?  Participants have delegations from different countries and they use their minds for events instead of their bodies.  There are individual events and group events and they get gold, silver and bronze medals.  I took place in Barranquilla, Colombia, the city where Shakira is from.

I am lucky that I have a very supportive and intelligent wife. Imelda is also a Systems Engineer, both of us love going into the schools and set up projects to build Hubble Telescopes, airplanes, space vehicle models with children as young as kindergarten.Granda5 While I was at NASA Langley, at the Kennedy Space Center, at NASA Ames and at the Johnson Space center, she worked for NASA’s education department, training the teachers that came to the centers to improve their teaching of science and math.  She has a collection of NASA posters that we use in our presentations and kids love it.  We are a very international family.  She went to school in Brussels and then did her Master at the University of New Mexico.  So she speaks Spanish, French and English.  We lived in Germany, France and in Switzerland during my sabbaticals and thus I speak English, Spanish, German and French.  Our son JJ is the more versatile of all, he speaks English of course, he was born here, Spanish, German and Swiss German which is a separate language. He studied French and Latin also as in those countries in school all kids take at least two foreign languages and in the case of Switzerland four.

Education, teaching and being always surrounded by students from five years to adults, who learn something from me is my life and my business.  At this point in my career, I have been in the position to evaluate other teachers and professors, which has given me an expertise on what it takes and what tools you need to be a good teacher, not only looking at my own but those of others who are successful.  My main specialty in teaching is teaching with technology.  In my classes students are free to use Ipads, iPods, I phones, laptops, you name it, always as teaching tools. I am experimenting with little tablets which one day will replace the blackboards and with digital homework. That means in my classes there is not a single exchange of paper, all is electronic and in color. Students are set a high bar and because of that I get results.  Three of them have gone on to do their PhDs, four went to NASA, one works for Boeing in Seattle and others are applying now.  I love what I do.

On the personal side, I love soccer.  I am the most senior referee in Davis AYSO, not in age but in years of service.  I started in 30 years ago and I am still there.  I hold a National Referee badge and one from USSF, which took me many years to earn.  If you are a parent reading this, chances are that I have refereed your kids’ game.  I do it every Saturday and I love it.  Being a referee is very interesting.  You are making constant decisions and you have to remind yourself to distinguish what is fair and what is foul, you are a judge in fact for the entire duration of the game.  You have to be decisive, quick thinker, fair and stick with your decisions.  Some of my colleagues laugh when I tell them that being a referee is a challenge because you start the game with 24 people against you.  The two teams and the two coaches and you have to earn the respect they need to have for you so that you can be in control and while the score may not satisfy one of them, all may believe you were fair and did a good job.

Imelda and I are board members of a Non Profit Organization AECALIFORNIA This organization raises funds to support American doctors who travel to South America to perform surgeries for free on children with facial deformities.  We help also with natural disasters and support the hospitals and homes for the elderly.  We meet once a month and have events with typical food and salsa dancing which have proven successful and a lot of fun.  We have a great time, get to know many people and as a group make a contribution to alleviate needs of those less fortunate.

I decided to run for the School Board because I feel I can make a difference in the lives of children and young teenagers in this city where I have lived 32 years.  I feel confident that I have the education knowledge, background experience to change the status quo.  I am a strong person, with a thick skin to enter the world of politics and stand my ground for what I believe to be in the best interest of the children first and second in the best interest of the taxpayers.  For that reason the theme of my campaign “Excellence in Education with Sound Financial Responsibility”.

We cannot continue in a never ending vicious cycle of deficits and treating taxpayers as if they were an ATM machine.  My special interest groups are the kids and the taxpayers.  More details at: My priorities are:

  • Yes First Priority To The Children’s Excellence In Education
  • Yes On Total Commitment To Financial Responsibility To The Taxpayers
  • Yes On Teaching With High Technology
  • Yes On Reducing Administrators Salaries And Cutting Waste
  • Yes On Foreign Languages
  • Yes On (Stem), Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
  • Yes On Teaching Music
  • Yes On Teaching Art
  • Yes On Vocational Education
  • Yes On Teaching Performance
  • Yes On Hands On Management
  • Yes On Schools Additional Funding (Grants, Endowments, Wills, Tax Deductible Donations, Etc)
  • Yes On Professionals Becoming Teachers

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  1. rusty49

    I would tend to doubt that any of the other candidates have as many qualifications as Mr. Granda.

    “•Yes On Total Commitment To Financial Responsibility To The Taxpayers”

    I don’t feel like I’m getting that from the current regime but I know Granda will make sure our money is spent wisely.

  2. medwoman

    Dr. Granda,

    You have an amazing and inspiring story of personal dedication and achievement in engineering and education and for that I applaud you.
    I also agree completely with your “yes” list. We clearly share the same broad vision and goals. What I would like to hear from you is a realistic plan of how you intend to do that with insufficient funds. And no, I do not believe that this can be achieved through grants, endowments, wills, tax deductible donations, etc. I f it could be achieved through these means alone, it already would be. The absence of adequate private funding over many, many years speaks for itself. So what I would like to see from you are numbers in terms of how you plan all the “yeses” without additional revenue.

  3. Mr.Toad

    Sac State, where you work, plans to raise tuition if prop 30 fails. Davis schools can’t do that, so, although you claim that you want to get beyond measure E, what would you do if both prop 30 and measure E fail?

  4. Mr.Toad

    I appreciate that you have done charity work to provide medical care to people who otherwise would not be able to afford it and understand you would like to see the schools raise more money in a similar way. Currently there is nothing to prevent you from trying to raise that money right now. What have you done to date to raise money for the Davis schools?

  5. wdf1

    Mr. T: [i]I appreciate that you have done charity work to provide medical care to people who otherwise would not be able to afford it and understand you would like to see the schools raise more money in a similar way. Currently there is nothing to prevent you from trying to raise that money right now.[/i]

    Agreed. But here’s what I don’t get. DSF, Blue & White, Davis Bridge, Farm 2 School, and DSAF have all been fundraising in the past few years to support the Davis schools. Music boosters have done fundraising to acquire instruments for the programs/schools (in better times that would be the district’s responsibility). The PTO’s at each site have done fundraising, often in support of site staff (reading aides, teaching aides). All are 501c3’s as far as I know. What does Granda envision that is different from what is already going on?

    These fundraising organizations/foundations have been a big help, but they also appear to have limits as to how much they can raise. Granda’s silence on the issue so far looks like ignorance to what’s been going on. Others have raised this issue before now, and he hasn’t responded. This is one example of a short coming to his candidacy for school board. If you don’t engage that public conversation, then you’re really not doing your duty as a potential elected official.

    I also have issues with what set of facts he works from. If you can’t even agree on facts, then there is little basis for reaching compromise and agreement. Biggest one is that Granda insists that $28 million of $70 million go to teachers, when in fact Department of education figures show that it is (see 2010-11 year, the latest available, at [url][/url] for DJUSD) show that it is $42.5 million out of $66.4 million. Granda gives no citation for his source.

    I suppose all this is fine (but misleading) if one’s only role is to campaign in opposition to a parcel tax. But to run for a trustee seat, one needs to present a coherent vision and be willing to engage the public from a common starting point of understanding.

    If you want a protest candidate, you have Granda. If you want a responsible school board trustee, I’m not seeing it in him right now. But he can start at any point.

  6. Frankly

    wdf1: With all due respect, there is a better way to achiece greatness in Davis Schools. Measure E just slows the ongoing progressive decline, and delays the realization that the current system is inadequate and unsustainable.

  7. wdf1

    JB: With all due respect you haven’t defined that alternative in any way that is workable. Only speculative ideas. The key to making the current system workable is sustainable funding.

    I have three generations of teachers in my extended family, my generation and two previous. There has never been any sustained period of time when K-12 public education wasn’t either an issue of political crisis or a funding issue. What you suggest is the promise that all of our problems will be solved. I’m to the point where I don’t believe that. It will always be an ongoing policy issue. Issues will be different and will evolve, but we are better off dealing with them locally rather than waiting for Sacramento to figure them out for us.

    What you characterize as failure in the current system looks like success to other industrialized nations who seem to have a better system than our, based on certain metrics. The problem is that we are using the wrong criteria and standards for defining how our system is doing. We’ve been through this argument before.

  8. Frankly


    Davis middle schools and the high school need to be doing much, much more of this:


    This started in Napa. It covers many of the progressive education reforms I think we need.

    I wish I had known about it and also understood that Davis schools for grades 8-12 didn’t do too good a job educating non-academically gifted boys. My wife and I would have moved to Napa so my kids could have attended this school.


    Measure E prevents or delays this type of education reform.

  9. wdf1

    JB: Ditto what Don Shor said.

    Article excerpt below describes Da Vinci HS the year before it opened, and it was not yet named, “Da Vinci”.

    [quote]Jeff Hudson, 4/19/2004, Davis Enterprise, “Innovation education”

    To some degree, the New Technology High School in Napa — which opened in 1996, and produced 361 graduates by 2003 — has served as a model for the Davis program.[/quote]

    If you didn’t take the time to research your options in DJUSD, what makes you think you would have taken the time to find a near duplicate of Da Vinci in Napa?

    The grass is always greener…

    You argue that there should be much, much more? I think that would be forcing a product that not all families think they need yet. In the past 3-4 years, Da Vinci Junior High has built up. If wait lists for DV Charter build up, then their will be more campuses.

    You can also find info on New Tech High at [url][/url]. It is about the same size as Da Vinci. The idea behind this style of school is that it be a “small learning community”. So if you want to be true to the philosophy, then you probably have to break out a separate school if you want to grow it.

    [i]Measure E prevents or delays this type of education reform.[/i]

    Empty argument as far as I’m concerned.

    It must irk you to realize that DJUSD was more forward thinking than you give them credit for.

  10. medwoman


    As Don and wdf1 have pointed out DaVinci uses this model. My son graduated from DaVinci two years ago so I can address the model from first hand experience. Also, at last year’s DVA graduation I learned that they were expanding a program of which I am sure you would approve.
    In its first year there were a couple of graduating seniors who had been placed as interns in the local business community. For the next school year, the number planned was upwards of twenty. Seems to me to be pretty innovative and connected with the community to me.

    Given this, I fail to see how measure E prevents or delays this kind of education reform. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that you once said that if increased revenues were to be used to support substantive education reforms, you would be supportive. Well, here in Davis, we have a program of the type you are championing, and yet you still seem reluctant to support it. Can you clarify ?

  11. Frankly

    [i]What makes you think you would have taken the time to find a near duplicate of Da Vinci in Napa?[/i]

    DaVinci was just getting started and frankly, my two boys didn’t fit the profile of the typical kids selecting that school. Frankly, I was duped by the myth of fantastic Davis schools and since my two didn’t have behavior issues and were/are both very bright. I didn’t get that the outcomes we get are largely the result of a highly talented academic gene pool and much higher than average parental involvement that was/is actually supplemental education. We got this with our youngest for his music interest and he had outside band music tutoring from the 6th grade. However, neither my wife nor I had the time or backgrounds to be a teaching substitute for academic subjects. I was working in Sacramento and living in high-cost Davis for the schools. In retrospect, it wasn’t the best decision for my kids. They got a lower quality education that I would have preferred. More importantly, they came away with a profound distaste for school after being eager learners through 6th grade. They were exposed to far too many uninspired/uninspiring employees of the education system middle school through high school.

    Technology can reduce costs. It does in every other industry, so why not education?

    I’ve explained this to you before, and you reject the concepts as never been proved. For example, interactive student computer software running on a networked tablet computer with recorded lectures; high-quality graphics; dynamic pacing, testing and focus to help students breeze through the stuff they get and spend more time and effort on the things that they struggle with; 24 * 7 online tutors, online research tools and study guides. We can use live college tutors and subject facilitators instead of needing a certified teacher for everything. We can use the savings to hire more career counselors, add more art and industrial arts subjects, and reduce class sizes for the younger students.

    I am working on a special to the Vanguard that will explain the current state of education technology and the vision for K-12 public school education version 2.0. We have been stuck on version 1.0 since the word “school” was invented.

    I lecture someone when he/she has done something wrong.

    Kids today get more information from a 3” smart phone screen than they get from any uninspiring teacher droning on for hours in front of them.

    As I wrote before, I would be willing to tax myself more to pay for a reformed system that is technology-enabled and focused on the students… providing “school of one” education… customized for the needs of each individual student instead of a one-size, two-size or even three-size fits all format that is focused on being convenient for the employees of the education system.

  12. Don Shor

    [i]We have been stuck on version 1.0 since the word “school” was invented.
    We’ve disproven this myth of yours repeatedly. We’ve proven that DJUSD is implementing the tech options that you linked. You provide a link to something you think DJUSD should implement. We show you that they’ve already implemented that.
    So will you now be supporting Measure E?

  13. Don Shor

    [i]”… frankly, my two boys didn’t fit the profile of the typical kids selecting that school.”
    Then seriously: what the hell did you want? Do you want? What would ever, ever, ever satisfy you?

  14. wdf1

    JB: [i]No, I think it is clear now that Jeff will be supporting Measure E. ;-)[/i]

    Great! So I guess I’ll cross off “Convince Jeff Boone to support Measure E” from my bucket list.

    But somehow I think he would be too proud to concede.

  15. wdf1

    JB: [i]I am working on a special to the Vanguard that will explain the current state of education technology and the vision for K-12 public school education version 2.0. We have been stuck on version 1.0 since the word “school” was invented. [/i]

    We’re only on 1.0??? I’d think we’re at least a version or two beyond the original goal of providing basic math and literacy. If you consider the fact that we take it for granted that ~99.99% of the U.S. population is literate, then I’d say education has truly accomplished a notable benchmark and has moved on to the next level.

    Expanding on Don’s point at 4:42, given how easily some of your suggestions for innovative educational ideas have been shot down by the response, “refer to Da Vinci Charter,” don’t you think you might want to spend a little more time doing solid research on what is out there currently in the Davis schools? Maybe physically visit some schools both in and outside of Davis?

  16. Frankly

    Don: [i]Then seriously: what the hell do you want? What would ever, ever, ever satisfy you?[/i]

    See here: [url][/url]

    My oldest son graduated in 2008. We went through this with him, but it was not a good fit based on this profile. The same with his younger brother who graduated in 2010.

    As I understand, DiVinci was more a response to Davis Senior High growth and in defense of some demands to open a second traditional high school. I could be wrong but the format and structure of the school initially seemed a work in progress.

    My opinion is that we should not need separate schools. A single school should be able to teach each student based on his/her needs. My interest in school choice is to cause competition so this type of model forms… one where the students are customers and the customers all get what they need to revceive the best education possible for the lowest possible cost.

  17. wdf1

    JB: [i]My wife and I would have moved to Napa so my kids could have attended this school. [/i]

    [i]My opinion is that we should not need separate schools….[/i]

    Okay, well New Tech High is a separate high school from anything else in the Napa district. It is definitely like DVHS in promoting project-based learning (this is where “flipped teaching” comes into play, by the way). It’s a little hard to reconcile one statement with the other.

  18. medwoman


    [quote]Technology can reduce costs. It does in every other industry, so why not education? [/quote]

    Perhaps because education is not an industry in the sense of producing a product. Much of eduction is actually a form of socialization. While it is true that much of learning is about mastery of skills sets as in deciphering the code of language or mathematical processes, much of it is learning to develop patience, attention skills, ability to work with others, tolerance of and respect for the ideas of others and a whole host of other skills that are not promoted by computer based learning.

    [quote]My opinion is that we should not need separate schools…. [/quote]

    I am truly not clear on your point here. Are you proposing that your favored school model should be adopted universally regardless of the fact that many students do just fine with the traditional model, or with the DVA model which you do not seem to accept as differing significantly from the traditional model despite assurances that it does based on my direct personal experience ? So in other words, you would be asking us to throw out what works for many, many students because you are saying, essentially, “Just trust me. I’m a business man so I know best.” If this in indeed your position, you are not alone. This seems like a fairly common theme this fall.

  19. Don Shor

    Actually, what Jeff has just said is that the school model he favors is what all the schools should be, even though it was not a good fit for his kids.

    School choice exists within DJUSD. At the secondary level you have DHS, DaVinci, DSIS, and King. At the elementary level you have SI and DSIS in addition to the regular programs.

  20. Frankly

    It is not hard to reconcile. It is my opinion that schools in general should do a much better job giving all students a quality education. While we wait for that “school of one” transformation, like all parents, I would seek the school that would be the best fit for my kids.

    I support specialty high schools… like polytechnical schools and schools of the arts. However, I think all of them should be a flipped school-of-one format. You have to use technology for that.

    For those that don’t know what a flipped school-of-one format is… using a technology platform, the student drives the education path while the teachers respond by giving each student what they need. This compares to the current version 1.0 teaching method of setting a teacher-mandated teaching-style and performance class standard that all students must comply with despite their differences. The current education system is teacher-focused. Version 2.0 will be student-focused.

  21. Frankly

    [i]Actually, what Jeff has just said is that the school model he favors is what all the schools should be, even though it was not a good fit for his kids. [/i]

    Don, not quite. I favor a model that would be good for all kids. That model would have been a good fit for my kids. DiVinci gets a percentage of kids, King High gets a percentage of kids, and DHS gets a percentage of kids. What about the rest of the kids? Three boxes is better than one… I certainly can agree with that. However, I want an almost infinite number of boxes. There is no reason that we should not be going in that direction. I support school choice to move us in that direction.

    Medwoman, technology has transformed most service industries too.

  22. wdf1

    JB: [i]However, I think all of them should be a flipped school-of-one format. You have to use technology for that.[/i]

    Why not have a school that allows some personal agency of the teacher to decide how to teach? Maybe you actually do have some teachers that can give a fascinating and somewhat interactive and effective traditional lecture? And maybe you’ve also got some teachers that can be effective at running more of a project-based model? There are teachers in traditional high schools that run project-based curricula.

    No, you don’t necessarily need technology for that, but if it’s available, great.

  23. medwoman


    There are some industries that will be improved by advancing technology such as manufacturing and certain aspects of some service industries.
    There are however definite limitations beyond which technology will not improve, and may even work to the detriment of the process. Medicine is one of these areas where technology has brought wonderful improvements in some areas, but cannot replace the doctor patient relationship.
    I feel that the same may be true of education. From your previous posts, I feel that you think that technology should be used to further decrease teacer to student ratios. While this might be ok for your very self motivated student, I doubt it will serve the less driven well. I feel that a large part of my son’s success in DaVinci was not because of the technology, or even the group based project learning style, but rather because their were teachers who gave a damn about him and had small enough classes and enough time to make sure that he knew it. Cut back further on teachers and you will lose that aspect.

  24. wdf1

    JB: [i]For example, interactive student computer software running on a networked tablet computer with recorded lectures; high-qua….[/i]

    Here’s something for you to consider. This is an interview with Nobel prize winning economist James Heckman from the Univ. of Chicago School of Economics:
    [quote]source ([url][/url])

    Heckman: …in a few weeks, maybe a few months, you can convert essentially high school dropouts, people who were even intermediate school dropouts, into high school graduates.” And I said, “That’s amazing.”

    ….really, the average preparation time for a GED is like 32 hours. And the average amount of study time for a student in high school is around 1,000 hours per year. And you say, “Well, wait, that’s like 3,000, 4,000 hours versus 32.” And from an economic standpoint, if that were true, it would be a real miracle. And it would be very cost effective. All eighth graders should take the GEDs.

    Ira Glass: So he devised a study that looked at what happened over time to people with GEDs versus people who graduated from high school.

    James Heckman: And so when we follow these people into adult life, follow them many years, what we found was consistently GEDs are performing slightly better than dropouts who didn’t go on and take the GED, people who really dropped out of high school, but nowhere near as well as high school graduates. And that was in terms of performance in earnings, performance in occupation.

    We find that they consistently fail, whether it’s going on in college. The success rates in college are very low. The success rates in the military are very low. The success rates in marriage are very low. They get married, but they drop out of marriage. These people drop out of virtually everything they start.

    Ira Glass: Now, if you think about it, this shouldn’t be so surprising. If you can’t manage to follow the rules and do what’s assigned and keep your ass in a chair for four years of high school, of course you might be somebody who has trouble applying yourself later in life. Of course, you might be different from a high school grad.

    But what struck Heckman is that this didn’t show up in the test results. Our entire education system is organized around the idea that testing and the kind of smarts that you can measure on a test, are the most important information we could have about a student. That’s how we evaluate whether a school is well-run. There are kids who do better on standardized tests. That’s at the heart of huge policy initiatives, like No Child Left Behind.

    But here was a test, the GED, that said that millions of people were just as smart as high school graduates. If they passed the GED, it proved that their cognitive skills were just as good. But these people were failing, which led Heckman to conclude–

    James Heckman: That these test scores explain only a tiny fraction of the variability among individuals– who’s successful and who’s not– and that other factors are out there that aren’t measured that aren’t even accounted for in public policy that make a big difference. And so I said, “Hm, something’s missing.”

    And now, the first impulse is you appeal to astrophysics and you say, ah dark matter. There’s something out there in the universe that we’re missing. And that dark matter, what could it be?

    Ira Glass: What were the skills that the GED students lacked that the high school graduates had? Specifically, what was this unnamed dark matter, and how could you measure it? Heckman started calling these mystery skills that he was looking for non-cognitive skills to distinguish them from the stuff that educators normally focused on, which of course were cognitive skills.[/quote]The transcript and radio piece ([url][/url]) go on to talk about non-cognitive skills and the fact that these skills can be taught.

    I think Medwoman’s point is consistent with the above narrative. The success of Da Vinci has a lot to do with developing non-cognitive skills. Not the technology, although that is a nice plus.

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