Sunday Midday Briefs

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Closing Valley Oak School will Disadvantage Children Already Disadvantaged

Undoubtedly, one of my favorite columns to read in the Enterprise comes from Jann Murray-Garcia and Jonathan London.

Dr. Murray-Garcia this week writes about the potential closing of Valley Oak, a subject we touched on a few weeks ago that stirred a great deal of controversy. I think Dr. Murray-Garcia does an excellent job of summing up my feelings on the subject.

She writes: “While we recognize that it is not the intent of the Davis school board, the residents of Davis or the Mace Ranch residents to hurt these children…”

This is exactly how I feel. However, my column somehow gave the sense that there was blame placed on the parents in Mace Ranch, when that was not the intention at all.

She continues: “We have to face squarely and honestly that we will likely exacerbate the disadvantage current Valley Oak students face if their neighborhood school is closed.”

This was our chief concern–the welfare of the children who go to Valley Oak school.

She asks: “How can we argue against closing Valley Oak without pitting the good people of Davis’ neighborhoods against one another?”

This is the toughest question of them all–for if you accept that there are finite resources and that the school district has too many schools for too few pupils, then how do we reconcile these problems?

Finally, she sums it up: “We don’t pretend to have the right answer to this difficult problem. But we do know our solution should not result in further disenfranchising those least able to bear those short- and long-term consequences.”

Exactly. This issue needs to be raised within this community precisely because the answer is difficult and yet the problem is clear.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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12 thoughts on “Sunday Midday Briefs”

  1. Anonymous

    I can’t get very excited over this. Schools are closed all of the time because demographics change. Of course a school closing seems like a hardship, mainly because it takes more effort to get to school. However, not everything is negative.

    The kids get to go to a new school and meet new people. I went to six elementary schools because Palo Alto could not afford to build a school in my neighborhood. Furthermore, four of those schools have long since been torn down and replaced with much needed housing. On the plus side I met most of my middle school classmates before I stepped foot on campus.

    A new facility is always better than an old facility – better classrooms, better multiuse area, better climate control and better bathrooms.

    The old school offers a nice piece of property to experiment with multi housing infill and it is near downtown.SAH

  2. Anonymous

    I can’t get very excited over this. Schools are closed all of the time because demographics change. Of course a school closing seems like a hardship, mainly because it takes more effort to get to school. However, not everything is negative.

    The kids get to go to a new school and meet new people. I went to six elementary schools because Palo Alto could not afford to build a school in my neighborhood. Furthermore, four of those schools have long since been torn down and replaced with much needed housing. On the plus side I met most of my middle school classmates before I stepped foot on campus.

    A new facility is always better than an old facility – better classrooms, better multiuse area, better climate control and better bathrooms.

    The old school offers a nice piece of property to experiment with multi housing infill and it is near downtown.SAH

  3. Anonymous

    I can’t get very excited over this. Schools are closed all of the time because demographics change. Of course a school closing seems like a hardship, mainly because it takes more effort to get to school. However, not everything is negative.

    The kids get to go to a new school and meet new people. I went to six elementary schools because Palo Alto could not afford to build a school in my neighborhood. Furthermore, four of those schools have long since been torn down and replaced with much needed housing. On the plus side I met most of my middle school classmates before I stepped foot on campus.

    A new facility is always better than an old facility – better classrooms, better multiuse area, better climate control and better bathrooms.

    The old school offers a nice piece of property to experiment with multi housing infill and it is near downtown.SAH

  4. Anonymous

    I can’t get very excited over this. Schools are closed all of the time because demographics change. Of course a school closing seems like a hardship, mainly because it takes more effort to get to school. However, not everything is negative.

    The kids get to go to a new school and meet new people. I went to six elementary schools because Palo Alto could not afford to build a school in my neighborhood. Furthermore, four of those schools have long since been torn down and replaced with much needed housing. On the plus side I met most of my middle school classmates before I stepped foot on campus.

    A new facility is always better than an old facility – better classrooms, better multiuse area, better climate control and better bathrooms.

    The old school offers a nice piece of property to experiment with multi housing infill and it is near downtown.SAH

  5. Pat

    Chiming in late with a comment…

    In your last comments section you said, “there is a political reason why they went after the school with the lower socio-economic status at the same time they built a school that they apparently did not need in a wealthier neighborhood. I think that is a fair question.

    If there is an alternative explanation, I suggest you provide one.”

    The explanation is that VO has fewer students than other neighborhood schools do. According to the demographer’s numbers (based on residential addresses of students), Valley Oak has 319 neighborhood K-6 students (220 of whom actually attend Valley Oak), far lower than any other neighborhood school.

    It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Valley Oak is getting picked on for its socioeconomic status, but it’s because it has the fewest neighborhood students. The GATE students who make up the remainder are for the most part already travelling to their school; they could travel to another school instead. Bottom line, the number of families you displace is smallest at Valley Oak.

  6. Pat

    Chiming in late with a comment…

    In your last comments section you said, “there is a political reason why they went after the school with the lower socio-economic status at the same time they built a school that they apparently did not need in a wealthier neighborhood. I think that is a fair question.

    If there is an alternative explanation, I suggest you provide one.”

    The explanation is that VO has fewer students than other neighborhood schools do. According to the demographer’s numbers (based on residential addresses of students), Valley Oak has 319 neighborhood K-6 students (220 of whom actually attend Valley Oak), far lower than any other neighborhood school.

    It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Valley Oak is getting picked on for its socioeconomic status, but it’s because it has the fewest neighborhood students. The GATE students who make up the remainder are for the most part already travelling to their school; they could travel to another school instead. Bottom line, the number of families you displace is smallest at Valley Oak.

  7. Pat

    Chiming in late with a comment…

    In your last comments section you said, “there is a political reason why they went after the school with the lower socio-economic status at the same time they built a school that they apparently did not need in a wealthier neighborhood. I think that is a fair question.

    If there is an alternative explanation, I suggest you provide one.”

    The explanation is that VO has fewer students than other neighborhood schools do. According to the demographer’s numbers (based on residential addresses of students), Valley Oak has 319 neighborhood K-6 students (220 of whom actually attend Valley Oak), far lower than any other neighborhood school.

    It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Valley Oak is getting picked on for its socioeconomic status, but it’s because it has the fewest neighborhood students. The GATE students who make up the remainder are for the most part already travelling to their school; they could travel to another school instead. Bottom line, the number of families you displace is smallest at Valley Oak.

  8. Pat

    Chiming in late with a comment…

    In your last comments section you said, “there is a political reason why they went after the school with the lower socio-economic status at the same time they built a school that they apparently did not need in a wealthier neighborhood. I think that is a fair question.

    If there is an alternative explanation, I suggest you provide one.”

    The explanation is that VO has fewer students than other neighborhood schools do. According to the demographer’s numbers (based on residential addresses of students), Valley Oak has 319 neighborhood K-6 students (220 of whom actually attend Valley Oak), far lower than any other neighborhood school.

    It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Valley Oak is getting picked on for its socioeconomic status, but it’s because it has the fewest neighborhood students. The GATE students who make up the remainder are for the most part already travelling to their school; they could travel to another school instead. Bottom line, the number of families you displace is smallest at Valley Oak.

  9. Anonymous

    “Too many schools for too few pupils” is said to be the root of the problem and this is what I don’t understand. Why do you build a new school (Koramatsu) and then close a perfectly fine, recently renovated school (Valley Oak, millions of dollars over several years). I understand that since Mace Ranch was promised a neighborhood school, the parents there have pressured the School Board to fully open Koramatsu. However, who can better afford to drive their children to an out of their neighborhood school: Mace Ranch parents or parents of the 30% low income students attending Valley Oak.

  10. Anonymous

    “Too many schools for too few pupils” is said to be the root of the problem and this is what I don’t understand. Why do you build a new school (Koramatsu) and then close a perfectly fine, recently renovated school (Valley Oak, millions of dollars over several years). I understand that since Mace Ranch was promised a neighborhood school, the parents there have pressured the School Board to fully open Koramatsu. However, who can better afford to drive their children to an out of their neighborhood school: Mace Ranch parents or parents of the 30% low income students attending Valley Oak.

  11. Anonymous

    “Too many schools for too few pupils” is said to be the root of the problem and this is what I don’t understand. Why do you build a new school (Koramatsu) and then close a perfectly fine, recently renovated school (Valley Oak, millions of dollars over several years). I understand that since Mace Ranch was promised a neighborhood school, the parents there have pressured the School Board to fully open Koramatsu. However, who can better afford to drive their children to an out of their neighborhood school: Mace Ranch parents or parents of the 30% low income students attending Valley Oak.

  12. Anonymous

    “Too many schools for too few pupils” is said to be the root of the problem and this is what I don’t understand. Why do you build a new school (Koramatsu) and then close a perfectly fine, recently renovated school (Valley Oak, millions of dollars over several years). I understand that since Mace Ranch was promised a neighborhood school, the parents there have pressured the School Board to fully open Koramatsu. However, who can better afford to drive their children to an out of their neighborhood school: Mace Ranch parents or parents of the 30% low income students attending Valley Oak.

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