Why Does Davis Not Have More Teachers of Color?

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achievement-gapANALYSIS: The Demographic Breakdown May Surprise You – One of the audience questions that we asked at Monday’s candidates forum at Harper Junior High was “Why are there so few teachers of color in this district? In the last five years there have been very few teachers of color hired, except at Cesar Chavez for obvious reasons.  Shouldn’t there be more parity in the teaching force to reflect the student population?”

The candidate responses ran the gamut.  Alan Fernandes said that he did not know why this was the case but said that he believed there should be more parity.

Claire Sherman’s response was, “Part of the reason why there is an achievement gap is because the students that are in these classrooms don’t actually see a role model.  What they see is the general middle class man or woman teaching class and they don’t actually see themselves as potentially being a teacher.”

She argued that the presence of teachers of color could inspire minority students.  “I think it would be good if the school district made very large attempts at getting teachers in the school district that reflect more the composition of the population in Davis.”

Jose Granda said that this relates to his efforts to get more students of color into the university.  He said that he does not believe the problem is with the administration, but rather, “We have to go and actively seek these students just as you would have to go and actively seek these teachers.”

Nancy Peterson responded, “I think one of the basic reasons why we don’t have more teachers in color here is that, in general, our population of students either Latino or African-American is very low and teachers who are of Latino descent or African-American prefer to go to communities where there is a need for … where there’s a greater population of kids from a similar background.  Because they feel they want to do more for their community.”

“While we strive to increase the number of teachers and administrators of color, their interests lie in other communities where the population is higher,” she said.  “We’re after our highest quality teacher and if they match a certain ethnic or racial background then great.”

Susan Lovenburg disputed the premise of this question because “I don’t believe it’s true.”  She cites a visit she took to the high school where she visited 13 different classrooms: “We have teachers of color, we have principals of color in this district, we have a superintendent of color in this district.  This has been a focus of this school board even before I was on it.”

“There has been considerable improvement in this area and what was striking to me when I was in those classrooms today is that our student population is increasingly diverse.  This is no longer a white enclave this community, it is really a community of diversity and if you walk around the high school you will see that and our teacher staff, and our principals and our superintendent reflect that.”

Fact Check

The interesting thing about these responses is that, other than Claire Sherman’s point about the achievement gap, they are nearly all either factually inaccurate or based on faulty assumptions.DJUSD-Ethnicity-4

Let us start by looking at the student population, because I believe it will be an eye opener for many.

Susan Lovenburg is part right here when she said, “Our student population is increasingly diverse.”

In 2010-2011 according to the California Department of Education’s Educational Demographics Office (CBEDS), the percentage of white students in Davis school is 57.9%.  Hispanic is the largest subgroup at 17.2%, Asian just behind at 15.1%, mixed race at 4.3% and African Americans at 2.8%.

She is correct when she noted that it is “increasingly diverse.”  In fact, stunningly so.  In 1992-1993, just twenty years ago, the student population was 75% white.  Hispanics were just 10.8% and the number of Asians just 8.5%.  That is remarkable change in two decades.

However, Susan Lovenburg goes too far when she says, “This is no longer a white enclave this community.”  It may not be a 75 percent white community like it once was, but it is still far more white than surrounding areas.

DJUSD-Ethnicity-2

The countywide data bear this out.

Countywide, whites account for just 39% of the student population compared to nearly 58% in Davis.  Hispanics are the largest group at 44%.  Davis is, in fact, still 73% white or Asian, whereas the county as a whole is 47.8%.

So, while Davis is far more diverse than it was two decades ago, it still is disproportionately less diverse than the rest of the county or the region.

Moreover, Susan Lovenburg is overly-optimistic about the percentage of teachers of color.

DJUSD-Ethnicity-3

The number of teachers of color is still remarkably low.  81.6% of teachers are white.  There are 41 Hispanic or Latino teachers, but a large number of them, as noted in the answer to the question, are hired through the dual immersion program.  It is not that those numbers “don’t count” so much as the distribution of Hispanics throughout the rest of the district is low.

The stunning number is that we have just 3 African-American teachers and 16 Asian teachers.

These numbers have not improved over the last twenty years, despite the comments by Susan Lovenburg about this being a district priority.

Twenty years ago, we had 110 fewer teachers than 2010-11.  And yet, the number of African-American teachers has actually fallen from 4 to 3.  Asian teachers have only increased from 12 to 16, maintaining their same proportion.

The percentage of white teachers decreased only slightly from 87.7% to 81.6%.  And remember what happened to the percentage of white students over that time.

The only area of increase was in number of Hispanic teachers, which doubled in absolute numbers from 20 to 41, and whose share increased from 6.2% to 9.4%.

DJUSD-Ethnicity

The result is that, while the student population is increasingly diverse, the teacher population is lagging behind.

District wide, the proportion of white students is 57.9 percent but the proportion of white teachers is 81.6 percent.  Minorities are under-represented across the board.

There are 15.1 percent Asian students but only 3.7 percent Asian teachers.  There are 17.2 percent Latino students but only 9.4 percent Latino teachers.  And there are 2.8 percent African-American students, but only three African-American teachers or .7 percent.

Jose Granda’s suggestion about recruiting teachers of color is a good one, but the problem is that the district has actually spent considerable time and expense to do just that – limited as they are by state laws on Affirmative Action – but those efforts have not produced noticeable results.

Nancy Peterson’s response seems almost defeatist.  And while the explanation she gives is certainly one that has been used in the past as the explanation, it does not really account for what is now a growing gap between the demographic changes of the community as opposed to the relative stagnation of the district in terms of teachers.

Certainly the perception of the demographics of this community may make it more difficult to hire quality teachers of color; the reputation of this community is perhaps even starker than the actual demographics might suggest.

In short, there is no easy answer, but looking at the data suggests that this is going to be a bigger problem in the future if it is not addressed by the district.

—David M. Greenwald 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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66 thoughts on “Why Does Davis Not Have More Teachers of Color?”

  1. Davis Teacher

    Yes, this is a complex question but you’ve ignored one obvious factor: other districts pay more in salary and, especially, benefits. The teaching force as a whole is not as diverse as the student population. The DJUSD is competing with other districts for teachers of color, and we lose out to districts like Elk Grove that are well run and pay better.

    The Vanguard keeps calling for teachers to “do their share” and give up even more salary. How will this make us more competitive and able to recruit more teachers of color? Especially when some nearby districts are not asking their teachers for any concessions at all?

  2. David M. Greenwald

    Davis Teacher: I don’t understand how that would relate to minority hiring – so we can hire excellent white teachers with our salaries but not minorities?

  3. David M. Greenwald

    Rusty: The research on the achievement gap bears suggests that you are actually not only wrong but misunderstand the problem look at the response from Claire Sherman above. A lot of people act as though there is some objective measure of qualifications and they ignore that subjectively, there are a number of less tangible factors that will determine who ultimately will be the best teacher and most importantly for whom. It may be, that on paper a person who is “more qualified” whatever that means, is not more qualified to teacher all students equally.

  4. rusty49

    “that on paper a person who is “more qualified” whatever that means”

    Really, you don’t know what “more qualified” means. Perhaps a teacher who already has several years of teaching experience, graduated with a Masters and not just a BA, majored in the area where the school needs to fill a position…….

    “It may be, that on paper a person who is “more qualified” whatever that means, is not more qualified to teacher all students equally.”

    I totally agree with you on this, experience and education doesn’t necessarily make for the best teachers. It often comes down to passion, patience, love……but it shouldn’t come down to one’s race.

  5. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > There are 15.1 percent Asian students but only
    > 3.7 percent Asian teachers. There are 17.2
    > percent Latino students but only 9.4 percent
    > Latino teachers. And there are 2.8 percent
    > African American students, but only three
    > African American teachers or .7 percent.

    I think we need to look at who gets a teaching credential in the state. If 5% of the teaching credentials in the state are held by Latinos and 0.5% of the teaching credentials are held by blacks then we are doing better than in expected.

    This goes back over 20 years but when a girl I was dating was getting her teaching credential at the College of Notre Dame in Belmont her classmates were about 90% white women.

    It is also interesting to note that Asian students seem to do well no matter what race their teacher is, but we keep hearing that Black and Latino kids need teachers that “look like them” to get better test scores…

  6. rusty49

    SOD
    “It is also interesting to note that Asian students seem to do well no matter what race their teacher is, but we keep hearing that Black and Latino kids need teachers that “look like them” to get better test scores…”

    Great point. The child’s role model at home is far more important than any role model at school.

  7. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > The stunning number is that we have just
    > 3 African-American teachers and 16 Asian
    > teachers.

    I just noticed that David has the percentage of teachers statewide on his chart and that Davis has higher percentage of Asian teachers than entire state (3.7% to 3.5%) and a little lower percentage of African American teachers (1.2% to 5.5%).

    Why is it “stunning” that the percentage of Asian and African American teachers in Davis is right around the percentage that are teaching in the state. If Davis demoted the Holmes Junior High principal and others the numbers might even look better (I don’t think Davis would want to ban promoting people of color to keep the Davis percentage teacher of color numbers high)…

    P.S. I also noted that David’s statewide data does not have a mixed race or none reported box while the district data does so this makes the statewide ethnic numbers higher and the district ethnic numbers lower (I don’t think that even Davis will say that not even one of the of the states 220,114 teachers is of mixed race)…

  8. Davis Teacher

    David’s comment: “Davis Teacher: I don’t understand how that would relate to minority hiring – so we can hire excellent white teachers with our salaries but not minorities?”

    My response:
    We have to look at the reality of who teaches in Davis, and why. A smaller number of us accept lower salaries and benefits because we value teaching where we live and/or have spouses who are the primary wage earners in our families. I don’t denigrate those teachers…they are among our best…but they are overwhelmingly white women.

    A larger number of our teachers, as you might imagine, depend on their income so must take financial factors into account when deciding whether to accept a job, or to stay in a job. From my experience, this larger groups includes teachers of all ethnicities, including almost all of our teachers of color.

    When serving on hiring committees, I see that, when these teachers have multiple offers, they understandably accept the job that pays the most.

    Compounding the problem is the fact that the adult population in Davis is not as diverse as our student population. That means, to match our student population, we need to go outside Davis student limits to find more teachers of color. That erases the one advantage we have left in hiring decisions: appealing to those who value teaching where they live.

    Again, I don’t think the pay disparity is the only factor affecting minority hiring. But I do think it is a factor, and something that those calling for teacher pay cuts must take into account.

  9. Hmmmm...

    Last year I asked a junior high teacher friend of mine, single parent, primary wage earner, who commutes from Davis to Sacramento for the higher salary, how her District could afford the higher teachers’ salaries. She says it’s because they have had higher class sizes than Davis all along.

    I would be interested to hear from that group, which I am under the impression is sizable. Educators who live in Davis and send their children to Davis schools, who teach elsewhere.

  10. Mr.Toad

    “The child’s role model at home is far more important than any role model at school.”

    But what if there is no role model at home?

    What we know is that children succeed better when they have at least one role model in their lives. Whether it is at school or at home is less important than if there is one at all.

    The thing I think you miss Rusty is something called the affective filter. Simply stated the affective filter is the idea that a student won’t learn from someone that they have decided they can’t teach them anything. It doesn’t matter if someone is most qualified or simply qualified. It is not that the material is hard to master. More important is whether the teacher can deliver the material in a way that students will be willing and able to learn. In that regard a more diverse staff is desirable so that students have a better chance of bonding with potential role models who can help them lower the affective filter and succeed in school.

  11. Mr.Toad

    The school board has honestly only started to address this issue since Murphy departed. Sadly this has also been a time of pink slips every year for new hires so as much as the trustees have wanted to build a more diverse staff it has been difficult to do so under current economic realities.

  12. Mr.Toad

    Typo correction: Simply stated the affective filter is the idea that a student won’t learn from someone that they have decided can’t teach them anything.

  13. rusty49

    Okay Toad, so if that affective filter is so important and true where does that leave a white student who might have a teacher of color? Are you advocating that we put white students with white teachers and children of color with teachers of color?

  14. Mr.Toad

    Actually if I could rule the world I would say that when a child says I can’t learn from that person another teacher would be found.

    My cousin once told me a story about how her daughter was having a hard time learning math one year at an expensive private elementary school. The next year with a different teacher the kid did well in math. My cousin told me she thought the first teacher had her daughter psyched out. That is the affective filter.

    My point is that learning is a complex process. As such we have an area of study known as Educational Psychology that most good teaching programs require beginning teachers to study. It is not as simplistic a process as your comments suggest. There is not some linear measurement of ability that will determine who will be the best teacher for every child. The best example would be a teacher that some kids love and some kids can’t stand. Ideally a faculty should be diverse enough(not just racially) that there is somebody every student can bond with as a role model.

  15. SouthofDavis

    rusty49 wrote:

    > Okay Toad, so if that affective filter is so
    > important and true where does that leave a white
    > student who might have a teacher of color?

    There are two ways to “close the achievement gap”. You can make “students of color” (keeping in mind that anyone that uses the term “achievement gap” or “students of color” do not consider Asian or Indian kids “students of color”) have higher test scores or you can make White, Asian and Indian kids have lower test scores. Given the choice of hiring a Black teacher who just might help the ~2.8% Black kids in a class do better we all know what almost every district in California would do. Even if all the ~73% of White and Asian kids in a class had an “affective filter” against a teaching style that used rap music and Ebonics to “keep it real” the district would be happy if the “achievement gap” in one class closed…

  16. rusty49

    “It is not as simplistic a process as your comments suggest.”

    Toad, I never said it was simple and obviously you have no answer to my question. In fact you and others think the SIMPLE answer is just to hire more teachers of color. That’s where you are all wrong. Hire the best, most qualified, passionate, patient teachers you can regardless of race and let them do their jobs. Keep race out of it.

  17. SouthofDavis

    Mr. Toadd wrote:

    > My cousin once told me a story about how
    > her daughter was having a hard time learning
    > math one year at an expensive private elementary
    > school. The next year with a different teacher
    > the kid did well in math.

    We just had some friends over for dinner who send their daughter to an expensive private elementary school in Davis. Their daughter was having a hard time with math last year, but this year she is doing a lot better (with the same teacher)…

    I’m not saying that Toadd’s cousin’s kid didn’t have a bad teacher. I’m just saying that you should not jump to saying a teacher was the problem when a kid is very different a year later. When I started ski racing as a little kid I was scared to go fast did very poorly, a year later and a year older I was on the podium after most races (with the same coach)…

  18. Frankly

    I think the racial quota whining is evidence of a hyperactive dinosaur brain. Time to evolve folks. Don’t get stuck in that problem seeing the world through race-tinted glasses everywhere you look. The best way to stamp out racial flitering and the effects of race-based tribalism is to stop looking for evidence that race matters. It does not.

    A great teacher is a great teacher no matter what shade of skin, or what ethnic origin.

    I do agree that there is a diversity problem within the profession of k-12 teaching, but it is gender diversity not racial diversity. There are far too few male teachers. The statistics for dropouts tells us that boys are significantly over-represented. Overall, racial variance in teaching is de minimis. However, gender variance is huge and glaring and has grown wider. I don’t have the data handy, but somewhere I have a graph that shows a trendline for dropout rates for boys matching the trendline increase in percentage of female teachers.

  19. Hmmmm...

    [quote]How much is the pay disparity between local school districts?
    [/quote]

    Quick comparison of local teacher salaries, based on online step schedules. Step 1 = BA, 1st year; Step 15 = BA + appox 90 units, 15 years

    Davis
    Step 1: 36,572
    Step 15: 68,815
    Elk Grove
    Step 1: 40,047
    Step 15: 76,909
    Natomas
    Step 1: 38,875
    Step 15: 72,233
    Twin Rivers
    Step 1: 40,000
    Step 15: 76,909
    Vacaville
    Not available today
    Woodland
    Step 1: 40,134
    Step 15: 67,587

    http://www.djusd.net/employment/salsched/certsal1112
    http://www.egusd.k12.ca.us/employment/salary.cfm
    http://www.natomas.k12.ca.us/151110131231320607/site/default.asp
    http://www.twinriversusd.org/depts/files/12/Certificated_Salary_Schedules.pdf
    http://vusd-ca.schoolloop.com/resource/resources?d=x&id=1312697508455&group_id=1224957592371
    http://www.wjusd.org/cms/page_view?d=x&piid=&vpid=1254374379694

  20. medwoman

    “It is also interesting to note that Asian students seem to do well no matter what race their teacher is, but we keep hearing that Black and Latino kids need teachers that “look like them” to get better test scores… “

    I do not believe that this is a simple as being about “looks”. I also believe that it is more complex than just the “affective filter”. I do think that having a role model to which one can relate,somewhere in one’s life, be it on the basis of passion for a subject, personality, gender, race makes a huge difference.

    I would like to counter Jeff’s point with an example from the other gender perspective. For years, women were faced with the societal myth that we were not as competent in the maths and sciences as men and with an even more exclusionary myth that we were too emotional and not logical enough to be good doctors. I know this from direct and repeated experience and it was far worse for those before my class when women in medicine were rare, not just unusual as during my training. The importance of an excellent role model is not just that the teacher him or herself is an excellent teacher. It is also that the student is able to imagine and conceive of him or herself in that role. A girl in a classroom where the math teacher is a man who subconsciously is not aware that he believes girls are worse at math may fare very differently than in the classroom of a woman who is obviously proficient, loves math, and knows as part of her being that girls are good at math. Same for a boy in a home economics course taught by a man who loves to cook, may see different possibilities than one in a class with a woman who finds it peculiar that a boy would want to be in her class.

    Despite what some would like to claim that gender, race, and other biologic or philosophic traits do not matter, this is too simple an interpretation. Diversity does matter, not so much for the individual instructor, but within the educational system a a whole so that all children have some positive role models to whom they can relate on the individual level.

  21. rusty49

    So Jeff, from your post and the theme of this article I guess one could say that we need more teachers from that much despised group of white males being that our white male children are lacking role models at our schools in appropiate ratios.

  22. hpierce

    [quote]Yes, this is a complex question but you’ve ignored one obvious factor: other districts pay more in salary and, especially, benefits[/quote]It appears to me that either this is a justification for ALL teachers to get higher salary/benefits, under the guise of being able to achieve “diversity”, or it is an acknowledgment that “diversity” has become so important that when two professionals, with the same ‘credentials’ (pun intended) the one who is the ‘diverse’ one will have a competitive advantage over the other.

  23. David M. Greenwald

    “so if that affective filter is so important and true where does that leave a white student who might have a teacher of color?”

    Why do you assume a white student is going to react to a teacher of color in a parallel that a student of color would react to a white teacher (btw, I’m not convinced the key factor here is adverse response to white teachers).

  24. medwoman

    hpierce

    And so, from my own stated point of view, at least in terms of elementary school education, that would likely mean that if the two candidates were otherwise equally qualified and one was a white female and the other a white male, the job should indeed go to the white male as pointed out by Jeff and Rusty. However, if the candidates were an equally qualified white male vs a black male, the job would go to the black.
    Would anyone dispute the logic if diversity is a goal ? And for those who do not like the concept of diversity,
    to whom should the job go in each of these instances….bearing in mind in our hypothetical that the candidates are in every other way equal ?

  25. David M. Greenwald

    “(keeping in mind that anyone that uses the term “achievement gap” or “students of color” do not consider Asian or Indian kids “students of color””

    Actually I have increasing concern about Asians from SE Asia as oppose to Koreans, Japenese and Chinese students.

  26. David M. Greenwald

    ” In fact you and others think the SIMPLE answer is just to hire more teachers of color. “

    I don’t think that’s an accurate portrayal of people’s beliefs. I see one among many solutions and i think it’s the lowest hanging fruit.

  27. David M. Greenwald

    “I think the racial quota whining is evidence of a hyperactive dinosaur brain. Time to evolve folks.”

    I think the discussion here was good and you didn’t need to insert your invective…

  28. rusty49

    David:
    “Why do you assume a white student is going to react to a teacher of color in a parallel that a student of color would react to a white teacher”

    I don’t think it should matter either way. If it’s a good teacher either the white or student of color will be in good hands.

  29. Mr.Toad

    “I don’t think it should matter either way.”

    It shouldn’t doesn’t mean that it doesn’t.

    I remember one time when a principal ripped the english faculty chair. a truly great teacher, at a faculty meeting about standardized test scores at a school where I taught asking the absurd question of “We have Women’s Lit why don’t we have Men’s Lit?”

    The principal failed to understand that all the literature that was not part of Women’s Lit was would qualify as Men’s Lit. The teacher resigned within days and took a job in a different, more enlightened district. and, for all i know may still be teaching here in Davis.

    Hopefully that answers your question Rusty.

  30. David M. Greenwald

    Exactly what I was going to say Mr. Toad – just because it shouldn’t doesn’t mean it doesn’t and there’s a good amount of research to suggest it does. So how do you respond to that research, Mr. Rusty?

  31. rusty49

    So if, and a big if, a student of color can be adversely affected by having a white teacher I want to see the research that staes that a white student isn’t adversely affect by having a teacher of color.

  32. Frankly

    [i]”I think the racial quota whining is evidence of a hyperactive dinosaur brain. Time to evolve folks.”

    I think the discussion here was good and you didn’t need to insert your invective… I don’t think you added to the discussion by doing that.[/i]

    David, you know I am consistent in my views on this. You and I disagree in may areas of the topic of race. I don’t think race matters. More specifically, I do not think race SHOULD matter. I think we perpetuate the racial divide with this mindset that says people cannot relate well enough to other people not from their race. I think we perpetuate the racial divide with this opinion that young people need role models of their own race. Does a white child need white role models? If someone demanded more white teachers in a school with a higher percentage of minority teachers, wouldn’t your racism antenna go up?

    I am a believe in modeling the behavior of the outcome we want. If we don’t want racial disparity, then we should behave in ways that we would if it did not exist… and it will cease to exist. I think most minority children do not think much about racial difference until they hear all the adults and the media harp about it.

    Conversely, we cannot make gender differences go away. They are biologocal. Female teachers cannot as easily relate to boys as can male teachers. Education has been shifting more and more to cater to the needs of girls at the expense of boys.

  33. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > Actually I have increasing concern about Asians
    > from SE Asia as oppose to Koreans, Japenese and
    > Chinese students.

    I don’t understand why most on the left “have increasing concern” for some groups and find it “disturbing” when some groups don’t excel but don’t seem to care at all about Whites or Asians. Every competitive public high school and college I know has a cap on Asians and last time I checked every UC and CSU school had free tutoring for “everyone but Whites and Asians”. Why is a conservative who has “increasing concern” for white kids “racist” while a liberal who has “increasing concern” for black kids “compassionate”?

    When I was in (a public) college (here in California) a friend who had a lot more money than me (his Dad was a multi-millionaire that drove a Ferrari sent him $1,000 a month) got free tutoring because he had brown skin. I had to pay for the same tutor (a super smart guy who’s Dad went to IIT in India) from what I earned at my part time job (that paid $3.35/hr at the time) because I had white skin.

    It looks like the city Davis does not consider the kids from SE Asia “Asian” because they have a box for Filipino and Pacific Islander. Does anyone know what the Davis School district considers kids from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan (the only choice I can see on the Chart Davis has above are “White” or “Asian”)?

  34. SouthofDavis

    rusty49 wrote:

    > So if, and a big if, a student of color can be adversely
    > affected by having a white teacher I want to see the research
    > that states that a white student isn’t adversely affect by having
    > a teacher of color.

    It is probably the same study that shows that making white and Asian kids pay for tutoring that brown and black kids get for free is totally fair and not racist…

  35. David M. Greenwald

    “Comeon David, you know as well as I do that no studies have most likely been done because that would be considered racist by the left. “

    That’s a cop out. At least if you tried and couldn’t find one, you could report there. There’s data out there, so my guess is you can find a correlation coefficient that shows the impact one way or another.

  36. David M. Greenwald

    “I don’t think race matters. More specifically, I do not think race SHOULD matter. “

    Those are two very different things. Race does matter. But I agree with you race should not matter.

    The problem is that it does and so we can try to address it or we can try to ignore it.

  37. David M. Greenwald

    ” Why is a conservative who has “increasing concern” for white kids “racist” while a liberal who has “increasing concern” for black kids “compassionate”? “

    There is a history there of course and that is that at one point in time, people had no problem openly expressing their bigotry, but at some point that became frowned upon and so bigotry was expressed in code words. Because of that, comments such as you mention are viewed with suspicion – sometimes rightly so other times times, no so rightly.

  38. Don Shor

    I think it would be very important to have more male teachers, for all the reasons Jeff and I have discussed on this topic before. I think it would be useful to have more teachers of color, for all the reasons others have discussed. The problem is — correct me if I’m wrong — you can’t [i]hire[/i] to achieve gender or racial parity. But I assume you can [i]recruit [/i]to achieve those ends.

  39. Davis Teacher

    To the commenter who wrote that white and Asian students have to pay for tutoring that Latino and African American kids get for free:

    You’ll be happy to know that that is NOT the case in Davis schools and, indeed, I do not believe is the case in most public schools. The AVID program and the Academic Center at Davis High, both of which incorporate UC Davis tutors, are open to all students. I believe the Bridge program at the elementary and junior highs is as well. There are also free peer tutoring programs open to all students at the high school, with academically talented students volunteering their time to help students who are struggling.

  40. Hmmmm...

    [quote]You’ll be happy to know that that is NOT the case in Davis schools …The AVID program and the Academic Center at Davis High, both of which incorporate UC Davis tutors, are open to all students.[/quote]

    This isn’t exactly my understanding (Avid has admittance criteria and an enrollment limit, for example), but it does speak to how much and what opportunities a public school can provide and I am grateful.

    That said, private tutors vs. school-supplied tutors is not an apples to apples comparison. These highly public forums for help may reach a lot of students, but they miss a lot of students, too. For a many teenagers (both genders, all races), a group tutoring environment is still very different from one-on-one tutoring where you can make mistakes and correct them in private.

    BTW, we know a family who is paying a recent prestigious-college grad who cannot find work in her major $36/hour to tutor their son. It would be interesting to know more about the secondary education economy in Davis– how much are Davis parents paying for private tutors and programs like Kumon?

  41. medwoman

    [quote]The best way to stamp out racial flitering and the effects of race-based tribalism is to stop looking for evidence that race matters. It does not. [/quote]

    This may be true to a greater degree here in Davis. However, the fact that you and I both wish this were the case does not make it so. I would point out to you the high schools in Mississippi where it is still the norm to elect separate black and white class presidents and separate black and white Homecoming Queens. This is the case in some schools in 2012. Sounds like race still matters without having to look very hard.

  42. Mr.Toad

    Wealthy Davis parents will pay whatever they need to pay in order to get the kids the help they need to make up for any areas where the kids need extra attention. If the schools in Davis go down far enough the kids that will suffer will not be the children of the well to do. They will supplement or privatize the education of their children like many other communities in America that have abandoned the public schools. Vote yes on E for the kids and the community.

  43. Frankly

    The best thing that can happen to good teachers is more privitization. That way they have the ability to be paid comensurate with their demonstrated competency. As long as education is controlled by the public-sector and unions, mediocrity will reign because great teachers will be paid the same as crappy teachers. Being great takes more effort, and if it does not get recognized, the great teachers will eventuall stop putting forth as much effort. Hence, we get a culture of mediocity. This then becomes the normal culture of performance that new teachers get indoctrinated into.

    A big problem with this is an evolution of a relative assessment of performance. There is no doubt that teacher can work hard in a culture of performance mediocrity. Like a mouse on a wheel… they can just keep running in circles doing the same ineffective things. And, just like any other business, employees set their work patterns to the work culture. They bristle when outsiders say they are not doing enough, or that they are not performing well enough, because they are tired running on that wheel and already feel over-worked and under-appreciated.

    In a private-sector business model where the company does not survive unless is makes a profit, and it does not make a profit unless it competes with other companies and wins, there is a sense of urgency to do the best. There is a work culture of high performance. Those not pulling their weight get coaching and management attention to help them “get it” and improve. If they fail, they are let go and a new employee is hired to replace them. And the performance coaching, development and assessment repeats.

    There is a principle in performance management that says that everyone is good at something, but some people need help finding that something. And, “help” is usually provided when they are fired for less than satisfactory performance. In the business of education, this help happens far too infrequently… as a result, we have a too high percentage of teachers in the wrong line of work. And they are screwing up too many kids…. because kids easily see when a teacher lacks true interest and passion in their work. A teacher cannot effectively coach a student to learn, and teach a student how to enjoy learning, if that teacher is not passionate about his/her role as a teacher.

    Students that are academically-gifted and/or have parents that drill them and push them might help their kids overcome a number of crappy teachers. However, marginal students will have their motivations sapped by crappy teachers.

    We need an education system where EVERY SINGLE TEACHER cannot wait to get to work to do what they love.

    What we have now is simply an adult jobs program that happens to teach kids. It is and adult jobs program filled with far too many teachers in the wrong line of work.

    It needs to be flipped.

  44. Don Shor

    [i]”As long as education is controlled by the public-sector and unions, mediocrity will reign because great teachers will be paid the same as crappy teachers.”
    [/i]
    Davis schools aren’t mediocre, Davis teachers aren’t crappy, and Davis would gain almost nothing of benefit from privatization of schools.

  45. Frankly

    Don, Too many teachers are mediocre… and this makes them crappy, IMO. This is an opinion shared by my teacher friends.

    Davis schools are better than average despite these medicre teachers… but for other reasons.

  46. medwoman

    “mediocrity will reign because great teachers will be paid the same as crappy teachers.”

    Unlike your assumption that equal pay determines that all will reach mediocrity, I can assure you that this is not so. The proof is in the system I have worked within for the past 25 years. Physicians in the same specialty are paid equally. We get sustained performance awards and annual bonuses when the performance of the group as a whole warrants individual physicians cannot bargain for increased pay for individual performance.. According to your model we should have seen the quality of physician performance drop to some level of mediocrity. And yet, during my time with the group, we have seen exactly the opposite. Performance in terms of patient safety, patient satisfaction, time to specialty consultation, intterdepartmental collaboration, and provider satisfaction have all risen dramatically. We are now attracting a higher caliber of applicant and are able to be far more selective in our new hires.

    I know that you have much more experience in the for profit world of business than I , but I feel that has led you to view all systems through the prism of the for profit business model. I feel that this has decreased your ability to perceive that not all motivation is economic and that not all who work will sink to the “lowest common denominator” as you seem to maintain. What I have seen happen is that with rare exception, the poorer performers look around them, realize that others are being more successful, and given positive encouragement will work to up their own game. I believe that teachers as professionals would be as likely as doctors to perform in this same way given positive reinforcement and the respect and pay commensurate with other professions rather than being painted as greedy, lazy, crappy villains. As a lbusinessman, do you really believe that any group of workers or professionals would respond well to this name calling, bullying form of management style ?

  47. medwoman

    Oops, should have read that time to specialty consultation has improved, not increased. Intent, although, bungled was to indicate that virtually all parameters have improved despite equal pay.

  48. wdf1

    JB: [i]We need an education system where EVERY SINGLE TEACHER cannot wait to get to work to do what they love.[/i]

    Getting rid of the current system of standardized testing and judgement would do a lot to help that.

  49. wdf1

    JB: In a private sector model like you suggest, most of the lower income students will not have access to optimal choice, and perhaps not much of any choice at all.

  50. jimt

    re: medwoman in response to Jeff Boone:
    “I know that you have much more experience in the for profit world of business than I , but I feel that has led you to view all systems through the prism of the for profit business model. I feel that this has decreased your ability to perceive that not all motivation is economic and that not all who work will sink to the “lowest common denominator” as you seem to maintain.”

    I second this response to medwoman; thru my own experience in science and engineering in the private and public sectors. There is no question that incentive/motivation has an economic component; however there is also no question, at least among the scientists and engineers I have worked with; that there are other motivating factors that are comparably as important. Most of the high-performing people I have known have done and would do excellent work no matter what the pay-rate; there is a distinct component of pride in doing good work and they would pretty much die rather than do shoddy work. It’s something that comes from within. There are other motivating factors as well.

    Of course if the pay rates for most people are reduced to just barely enough to survive in half-decent conditions (say like an average undergraduate from middle-class family apartment lifestyle); then you can reduce people to working mainly for pay and scrambling over each other for higher pay. Sadly, this lower pay scale for most is the direction that the country is starting to head.

    I think a corporate-style business model for education would be a disaster.
    Of the many deleterious effects; that of teaching-to-the-test is perhaps the most obvious; the pressure to do this is already turning away many creative people from the teaching profession. I personally couldn’t imagine anything more dull than being a teacher for a regimented curriculum where I’m pressured to teach-to-the-test since my performance evaluation (and maybe my job) depends largely on how well my students do or how much they improve their test scores over the year for the given demographic area, etc..
    So you have to consider the feedback effects of what kind of people would be attracted to the teaching profession if they are not given considerable latitude to teach in their style and to teach what they think is important; not what some corporate or business board mandates.

    How is it that they from post WWII thru the 1980s, and even to some extent to the present, that a disproportionate number of the best scientists, engineers, physicians, etc. were educated from K-12 within the United States, in public school systems where teachers were given considerable latitude to teach what they thought was important, with their own style (often wonderfully and blessedly off-key and just plain kooky in some cases. I have good memories of and learned from even the kookier teachers in public schools, including one wizened little high school literature teacher who regaled us with stories of the leprechauns in his backyard–nowadays they would drag him to the loony-bin and shoot him up with drugs; but it was also evident he loved being a teacher, and I also learned a lot from him, have affectionate memories and am glad I had him for a teacher).

  51. jimt

    Jeff,

    Though I do disagree strongly with you on a business model for education;
    I do agree strongly with you in many of your views on racial politics in education.
    However, I don’t think we can do away with the tribe–I think most members of all races have strong to very strong and deep-rooted instincts to belong to a tribe; I don’t know if it would even be healthy to try to uproot the instinct for tribal belonging. However; tribal groups can be redefined so that skin color does not play a dominant role; as has been shown thru history and demonstrated by anthropologists. Minority races have been accepted into majority populations of a different race thruout history in most cultures; under the proviso that they accept the cultural norms of the majority population. Like the old idea of the “melting pot” in the USA; it worked well for those that adopted the ways of the dominant culture. So I think the promotion of multiculturalism is a disaster, and the promotion of racial identity and growth of identity politics, while it has had some small positive effects; these positive effects are overwhelmed by the negative consequences; to some extent I think it has been driving wedges between the races.
    If all colors in Davis can identify as a single cultural tribal unit; say tribe Davis, how important is it to identify with the skin color of the person in the front of the classroom who is teaching you?

  52. rusty49

    After reading the posts I think this sums up the liberal view:

    Students of color and SE Asia need a teacher of color as a role model and an affective filter, but white, Korean, Japenese and Chinese students don’t need a teacher of their race because they don’t need a role model or an affective filter.

  53. David M. Greenwald

    I know you like to assess the world in Manichean liberal versus conservative terms, but can you perhaps posit a reason why that might actually be the case? My explanation would start with the needs of at risk and disadvantaged students. There is also the fact that minorities are more likely to see the world through a racial difference lens than whites.

    Have you even bothered to see if there is research or data backing your view?

  54. Frankly

    medwoman: [i]As a lbusinessman, do you really believe that any group of workers or professionals would respond well to this name calling, bullying form of management style ?[/i]

    You go ahead and protect the teachers from getting their feelings hurt, and I will focus on protecting the kids from being harmed by a crappy education experience.

    However, I think you should go back and read what I wrote again and ask yourself why you came to the conclusion that I was name calling and bullying.

    And your points about the doctors in your business not having individual merit pay… if your business allows poor performing doctors to hang around being propped-up by the strength of his peers, then I might need to rethink my consideration for my company’s health insurance next year. One crappy doctor can do a lot of damage. So can one crappy teacher.

  55. wdf1

    jimt: [i]How is it that they from post WWII thru the 1980s, and even to some extent to the present, that a disproportionate number of the best scientists, engineers, physicians, etc. were educated from K-12 within the United States, in public school systems where teachers were given considerable latitude to teach what they thought was important, with their own style…[/i]

    This is an excellent point.

  56. medwoman

    [quote]However, I think you should go back and read what I wrote again and ask yourself why you came to the conclusion that I was name calling and bullying. [/quote]

    “Crappy”, “mediocre” seem to me to fall within the realm of name calling just as do “looters and moochers”.
    Helping them to find what they are good at by firing them would seem to me to represent bullying.

    [quote]And your points about the doctors in your business not having individual merit pay… if your business allows poor performing doctors to hang around being propped-up by the strength of his peers, then I might need to rethink my consideration for my company’s health insurance next year. One crappy doctor can do a lot of damage. So can one crappy teacher.[/quote]

    I believe that my comment was that with our model of uniform pay, we have been consistently able to attract more and better qualified people through the years. I realize that this runs counter to your preconceived notion of how human motivation works, but it is true nevertheless. I know because I am involved in physician recruitment and hiring for our department. Please note that at no time did I say that any “poor performing doctors hang around being propped up by the strength of his peers”. This is a fiction made up by you because you do not seem to be capable of reconciling how a doctor could be happy practicing with others outside a competitive model. So I will tell you from my point of view ( based on 25 years of experience) how this can be.

    We have an entirely cooperative practice. I do not benefit by taking patient’s away from my peers. We fully acknowledge your point that some members of the group may have better skills and more interest in one area than another. For example I belong to a specialty clinic within my department which deals exclusively with the early detection, diagnosis and appropriate referral of breast cancer patients. Others have focused on pelvic reconstructive surgery, others on minimally invasive surgery. By not charging fee for service, focusing on prevention and same day referral to specialists we have built a practice that focuses on the need of the patient, not the ability of the individual physician to make money by charging for each visit or procedure. This allows us to work together optimally without having to compete with our colleagues to increase our own income.
    Since our practice is dependent on group excellence, we only benefit if the entire group functions optimally.
    When an area of deficiency is identified for an individual physician, the response is swift and non punitive.
    We identify the problem and decide upon a course of action. For example, if someone has not done enough of a given procedure to remain top notch they are given the choice to be mentored back to full proficiency, or to refer patient’s needing this particular procedure to one of their colleagues and devote more time to an area in which they are proficient.

    I see my partners as equals in the provision of care to each of my patients. If I am out of the office, I trust that any of my partners, having full access to my notes and all the records through our integrated electronic record will have access to the plan the patient and I have agreed upon and will have all the information they need to implement this plan. I so strongly believe in this integrated, collaborative model of care that I have chosen to remain with it through my entire career, although as had been pointed out to me in my early years in the profession that I could have made much more as one of the few female ob/gyns in the community at that time.
    For many of us Jeff, it is simply not all about the money. I am sure that this is as true of many other professionals as it is of doctors.

  57. Frankly

    medwoman, I get a great deal of enjoyment reading your responses.

    A few points…

    I think doctors are in a different employment category because the vetting of suitability for their career choice is already one of the most rigorous. From pre-med, to internship prospective doctors drop like flies and are routinely shown the door if they cannot cut it. Thank God, since the mistakes of a doctor unsuited for his field would be deadly. The profession of teaching has nothing similar. The performance bar and expectation is much lower. The vetting process much less rigorous. Also, there is much less in the way of set protocol. In fact, vocal education status-quo proponents on this blog make the case that we should eliminate most of our testing standards and allow teachers to approach their job in a creative fashion.

    Teaching is all about motivating young people to open and fill their minds. Some are better at this than others. Some are lousy at it, yet they continue to teach. Some are great at it, yet they don’t get any reward for their demonstrated talent and greater dedication. Also, potential great teachers do not join the profession because of that low potential reward.

    I am 52 and have been a manager since age 22. I have a lot of practical experience with employee motivation, and have developed several performance management systems for the companies I have worked for. Certainly money is not a sole motivator for most people. In fact, it is part of a larger feedback desire that humans crave. Some people don’t need external acknowledgment for a job well done. These people are generally highly-emotionally evolved and self-confident. However, if their lower performing peers get recognition, it will wear on their motivation. They will start to lose respect for their employer and maybe their profession. They will become less passionate and frankly, grumpy. Certainly some people can rise above a broken system of performance-reward, but plenty will not. Your view of a performance cooperative is basically a lower-performance equalibrium that keeps the peace. It is a compromise to ensure nobody loses their job. It may work in the medical professions, but It is wrong-headed in the field of education because there is a lack of rigor in the initial teacher vetting process.

    I think everyone is great at something, but many have great trouble finding that something. We Americans spend more time at our jobs than we do anything else. It is cruel and unusual punishment to be stuck at a job that is a mismatch for our true interests and passions. I have fired people for lack of performance. But, in each case it was after exhaustive coaching, counseling and development work. I can tell you that every employee I have had to fire, or encouraged to resign, ended up fine. Many of them have kept in contact and thanked me for helping them extract themselves from a job that did not fit.

    There is this tendency to see teachers as needing some extra special protection from performance assessment. I see it as just the opposite. Because of teachers’ influence on young lives, I think they should require constant and rigorous performance assessment in a system that recognizes achievement. Certainly group achievement should be included in the performance goal mix. And individual performance should include an expectation of cooperation and collaboration. The adage “what gets measured gets done” is absolutely accurate. All we have to do is design the performance management system to measure the right things.

  58. medwoman

    Jeff

    Please make sure you are seated. We have some points of real agreement.
    1) I agree that the way that doctors are vigorously assessed not only for intellectual capacity but also for psychological and emotional suitability
    for the job does make a major difference. I would strongly promote this kind of global assessment for all professions prior to investment of
    large amounts of time spent on an unsuitable profession.
    2) I agree almost completely With your second paragraph. However, I get the sense that you feel that many teachers remain in the profession
    because they are lazy. I do not believe this to be true. I have known a number of teachers who have remained in the profession although their
    heart was elsewhere because they are economically or medically trapped. If you are the sole support of your family, or cannot leave your
    current job because of the need to maintain health insurance, you are trapped within our current system.
    3). I agree that everyone is likely to be great at something. However, I strongly doubt your claim that “every employee you had to fire has “ended
    up fine”. I strongly suspect that this is a reporting bias. This would be like a plastic surgeon saying that all of his patients get beautiful
    cosmetic results because he only gets thank letters from the ones who are happy.. The others, I get to see because they will not go
    back to a surgeon they do not trust. The plastics guy isn’t being duplicitous, he just doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.
    4). I agree that some form of ongoing performance evaluation is needed regardless of profession. We just haven’t found a fair and effective
    model for teachers yet. Maybe you would consider working on designing one appropriate for our public schools?

    Ok, now if you are still seated, feel free to pace or do whatever you usually do when reading my posts. We are now back to more comfortable ground…..disagreement ; ),

    5) “Your view of a performance cooperative is basically a lower- performance equilibrium that keeps the peace. It is a compromise to ensure nobody loses their job. No….no….no, I cannot emphasize how much this is not true. Even highly experienced new hires have either not been voted into the group as senior physicians or have chosen not to remain with the group because of perceived underperformance or more commonly because of lack of a “good fit” with the group and or with the philosophy of provision of care emphasizing a preventative an efficient means of care provision rather than a fee for service model. The strength of our model is that those who continue are closely mentored and proctored, have ongoing performance assesments during their first three years prior to their senior vote. They are then assessed by their department and presented before the entire group for vote. I would very much support such an evaluation system for teachers. However, I do believe that we would have to be willing to pay them much more and actually treat them with the respect afforded other professionals before expecting them to submit to such a rigorous process.

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