On Wednesday, Barbara Archer, longtime community volunteer and PR professional, announced that she will seek a four-year term as a trustee for the Davis Joint Unified School District Board of Education in November’s election.
This week, the school board set forth the process for the school board appointment created on March 6 when Nancy Peterson resigned from the board over her role in the dispute over the firing of the volleyball coach. The trustee would be appointed and then have to run in November for a two-year seat.
In the meantime, it could be a fresh slate of board members come November. The seats of Gina Daleiden, Tim Taylor and Sheila Allen are up. Sheila Allen has already announced she will not run, as she is running for City Council. Tim Taylor has not formally announced but is not expected to run for reelection, and Gina Daleiden is unannounced so far.
Barbara Archer is the first announced candidate for November, and she will kick off her campaign at an event on Monday, May 5, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 764 Elmwood Drive at the home of Joy Klineberg.
Delaine Eastin, former state superintendent of public instruction, Archer’s honorary campaign chairperson, will speak at the event.
“Davis Joint Unified is at a pivotal time in its history with Common Core implementation, the roll-out of a five-year strategic plan and budgeting for new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) money,” said Ms. Archer in a press release. “With my knowledge of our district’s budget, my desire to communicate effectively to all district stakeholders and my belief in prioritizing program and budget dollars according to what is best for all our students, I hope to contribute to these processes as a board member.”
Ms. Archer, 46, has lived in Davis since 2000 in addition to a stint from 1994-1996. She has a track record of 10 years of volunteer service with the school district.
Since her oldest child started school in 2004, Archer has been an active parent in DJUSD, first in the classroom as a parent volunteer and then as PTA president at Willett Elementary in 2009-10 (with a vice president term the year prior).
She followed up her term as PTA president by co-chairing the Measure C school parcel tax, which won with a 72.3% of the vote in March 2012. She also consulted on the Measure E school parcel tax campaign.
Ms. Archer also held a two-year Site Council term at Willett from 2011-13. She edited the Willett PTA weekly newsletter for five years (2007-12), in addition to administrating the Willett PTA website and listserv with her husband for that same period. She founded “Friends of Our Willett Library” that raised money to update the non-fiction book collection at the Willett Elementary Library.
Ms. Archer recently participated in the DJUSD Strategic Planning process by working on the Technology Infrastructure and Facilities action team, which met from September 2013 to January 2014. She currently serves on the board of the Da Vinci Charter Academy Booster Club and on the DJUSD Parcel Tax Oversight Committee.
Ms. Archer has worked in public relations her entire career in a variety of industries and has been employed for almost four years with the organic produce delivery service Farm Fresh To You as its public relations manager.
She is the parent of three children – a ninth grader and twins in sixth grade – and holds a bachelor’s degree in history from UCLA. She is married to Daniel Segel, a native Davisite.
Madhavi Sunder, a daughter of immigrants and a Professor at UC Davis, has announced that she will seek election to the Davis Board of Education in November. Declaring “Strong Schools, Strong Davis,” Sunder believes that public schools are at the heart of our community. She is a strong advocate for an excellent education for all students, one that challenges each child to be his or her best in an environment that nurtures exploration and learning.
Ms. Sunder believes that the District needs to be forward-looking, meeting the budgetary challenges but not letting them prevent us from creating innovative new programs that are fiscally responsible.
She stated, “The last few years have seen enormous growth in class sizes, teachers have been asked to do more for less, and now teachers and students must adjust to the new, dramatically different common core curriculum.”
“The School Board needs to offer strong leadership to face these challenges,” she continues.
Madhavi Sunder herself attended public schools, before entering Harvard College, from which she graduated magna cum laude. She then earned her J.D. degree at Stanford Law School, after which she
practiced law in New York City, before returning to California to work for a federal appellate judge in Los Angeles. She was the youngest professor to be hired at UC Davis School of Law. She has been teaching at UC Davis for fifteen years. Sunder says, “I am proud to teach at a public university, where many of our students are the first in their families to go to college or graduate school.”
A tireless advocate for all children, Sunder will bring to the School Board deep compassion, incredible energy, and a demonstrated ability to get the job done.
In 2005, when her daughter was a toddler and when she was still pregnant with her son, she proposed and led a campaign to name a new elementary school in East Davis after Fred Korematsu, a native Californian who stood up for justice against the Japanese Internment. At the end of that year, The New York Times recognized Davis for naming a school after the civil rights legend. Now her two children attend this school, which proudly describes itself as a “social justice school” and where the children sing “what can one little person do?”
Sunder has been an active volunteer in classrooms at Chavez Elementary, served as an AYSO soccer coach, served on the GATE advisory committee and most recently was a member of the District’s Strategic Planning Committee Action Team. Sunder promises, “Drawing on my passion for public education and my experience as an educator, a lawyer, a mother, and a social justice advocate, I will work tirelessly on behalf of all the children in this town.”
She explains, “We need to begin by making sure that teachers have the training and the support they need to implement the state’s new curriculum.” “What the top school districts in the world have in common is respect for teachers,” she notes. “Davis teachers also need to know that they have our deepest respect.”
Sunder has been touring each of the Davis schools to learn more about the challenges and successes of each school.
Sunder is also applying for the open School Board seat to be filled by appointment on May 8.
Sunder has been endorsed by former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, Yolo County Recorder Freddie Oakley, UC Davis Dean of Engineering Enrique Lavernia, retired teacher Deborah Nichols Poulos, and Davis parents Krista DeZerega and Dr. John Thomson, among many others.
Her campaign team includes Campaign Manager, Sarah Heringer; Treasurer, Grace Salvagno; and Deputy Campaign Manager, Mario Salvagno.
She was a member of Davis Excel. In June 9, 2013, she wrote a letter to the editor defending the Davis GATE Program.
Racially charged terms have been used to attack the Davis GATE (now AIM) program, from “segregation” to “eugenics.” These charges are far removed from reality. In fact, the Davis AIM program is one of the most diverse of all of the district’s magnet programs, with demographics that closely resemble our district as a whole.
Our school district is 3 percent African-American, 17 percent Asian, 18 percent Latino and 57 percent white. Data from the last two years shows that students were identified for eligibility for the AIM program at similar percentages: 4 percent African-American, 24 percent Asian, 17 percent Latino and 51 percent white.
Questions about diversity — including not only ethnic but also socioeconomic diversity — in our district’s programs are important. But as the school board members said last month, this is an issue that affects all of our programs, not just AIM.
Indeed, DJUSD recently released data (see http://www.djusd.net/schools/schdemogr) that show striking discrepancies in various school programs. The Da Vinci Charter Academy is 2 percent African-American, 5 percent Asian, 12 percent Latino and 77 percent white. Birch Lane’s Montessori program is 2 percent African-American, 14 percent Asian, 8 percent Latino and 68 percent white. The César Chávez Spanish immersion elementary school is 2 percent African-American, 8 percent Asian, 25 percent Latino and 59 percent white.
These numbers should not condemn any of our magnet programs. These programs have successfully served students and families in the district for decades. All of them have wait lists. They are stellar parts of a stellar district. At the same time, the numbers challenge us to do better.
The Board of Education has suggested that the district’s new strategic plan include study of our magnet programs. Do some families naturally gravitate toward certain special programs, like Spanish immersion? Lower-income families may be less aware of magnet options, or less able to drive out of their neighborhoods to attend them. More information can help us correct for some inequalities.
Montessori has conducted outreach, including tabling at the Davis Farmers Market, to educate families about the program. Davis Excel has been tabling as well to educate families about AIM. In these ways we can seek to diversify our magnet programs while still preserving parental choice, a keystone of the Davis schools.
The AIM program owes its diversity to changes in district policy since 2003. Prior to that date, only children whose teachers recommended them or whose parents knew how and when to test for the program participated in it. Testing was done outside the school day.
To address unequal access, the district adopted a program of “universal testing.” The district began administering during the school day a test of abstract thinking and reasoning called the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT) to all third-graders to identify high academic potential.
The OLSAT, a multiple-choice test, is one of the most reputable, thoroughly researched and cost-effective group-administered tests for identifying academic needs. Because the test, which contains both verbal and nonverbal reasoning, may not best reflect the abilities of all students, the district AIM coordinator administers a second, free test called the Test of Nonverbal Intelligence (TONI) in small groups to students who are English language learners or who have certain other risk factors.
The combination of the OLSAT and TONI tests produces a spectrum of AIM-identified children that reflects much of the diversity of our district. Offering a variety of tests as we do in Davis is considered a “best practice” in GATE identification and one reason the Davis program has been hailed as “exemplary” by the state. Our GATE-identification process was reviewed by an outside expert and commended in an evaluation as recently as 2009.
Opponents of the AIM program are now attacking the use of the TONI test, charging that it makes the program “too big.” It is ironic that the same critics who are denouncing the program as “segregated” are the ones seeking to remove the diversity from the program.
Children who do not qualify for a free retest using the TONI can take a single private test administered by a psychologist at their own expense. The district has strict rules about the private tests — a student must identify the psychologist and day and time of the test beforehand in writing to the district to avoid seeking out a better score. The district continues to provide for this outside option because we no longer have a psychologist on staff capable of administering the comprehensive one-on-one exam.
If identification methods are being challenged, we should discuss with teachers whether some students are being improperly identified, and are being put into curricula beyond their capacity. If more students would benefit from the AIM curricula, then we should admit all who are likely to benefit.
Many have in the past suggested adding an additional strand at Montgomery Elementary School, providing an AIM option in a school with a high percentage of low socioeconomic-status children.
Parents and school officials are invited to visit www.davisexcel.com for a more complete collection of data, facts and research.
—David M. Greenwald reporting