Barbara Archer’s Address to DJUSD Board

Archer-Barbaraby Barbara Archer

(Editor’s note: the following was addressed to the school board Monday night as her formal remarks during the interview process and sent to the Vanguard subsequently).

Good evening President Daleiden, Vice President Taylor, Trustees, Superintendent Roberson, DJUSD teachers and staff, and community members,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you in more depth about serving the district for this 6-month appointment.

I enjoyed hearing everyone speak last week about their strengths and perspectives. We are certainly lucky to have so many good candidates who are willing to serve.

Each of us brings different experience and skill sets to the table.

President Daleiden mentioned last week that the community has been increasingly engaged in the board decisions in recent weeks. She said that community contact had been “high” regarding new administrative positions.

My years of experience talking to parents about district issues would be a strength that I would bring to this appointment.

As a PTA president and Site Council member, I have spoken to literally hundreds of parents about their opinions on issues. As a member of the parcel tax oversight committee, I have fielded questions about the district budget and the parcel taxes. I currently am the main parent contact for email inquiries at Da Vinci Junior High. For five years, I was the main email contact for parents at Willett through PTA.

The ability to talk to and listen to stakeholders during this time of immense change would be an asset to this position. We must engage the community, enlist their support and answer their concerns as we chart a new course for the district. This engagement takes a lot time and dedication, and I can commit to that.

For a six-month appointment with key decisions at stake, it would be advantageous to have the learning curve be as low as possible. I have been following board decisions for 9 years and have been a regular meeting attendee. My experience at sites in parent leadership positions and my district service that has focused on the budget and most recently on facilities would serve the district well in this position.

Thank you again for your consideration of my experience for the appointment.

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18 Comments

  1. Ryan Kelly

    She is certainly more polished in terms of speaking about District issues – most likely from her experiencing in fielding queries from parents and acting as a liaison between parents and school administration – and, from past articles, appears to have a very good grasp of the issue of parent-Trustee conflict of interest. I would like to hear more from her about her views on steps to closing the achievement gap with disparities in how discipline is meted out, her views on special education programs, such as AIM, and her experience in managing others.

    1. DavisAnon

      Sorry, RK, but I think your bias is showing 🙂 …You have had all sorts of criticisms about the qualifications of the other candidates with multiple skillsets and viewpoints and now Ms. Archer says very little and gets high praise because she’s “polished in terms of speaking about District issues”??? I’ve seen the video from the meeting. All of the candidates did an admirable job of speaking, but there was certainly nothing special about Ms. Archer’s talk.

      It seems like you’re talking her up just for the sake of talking her up. I’ve been watching/going Board meetings for easily as many years, have been involved at school sites, etc. but it certainly doesn’t mean I should be elected. Wasn’t someone just saying in the past couple days that if we’re going to see something new on the Board, we need to look past how many site councils or PTA’s someone’s been on as qualification for Board and look at more substantive qualities?

  2. Ryan Kelly

    I am equally as critical. As I said, I include information and quotes from past articles posted on the Vanguard regarding this candidate. I did not base this on just her talk at this one meeting – just as I did not base my comments about Madhavi on just her short comments. I agree that being polished at fielding questions about District issues due to participation in leadership positions in PTAs and committee does not say how she would perform as a Trustee. It sounds like we have the same concerns. Except you seem to just want to shut down all critical comments or questions about your preferred candidate.

  3. Ryan Kelly

    “you led with a positive on archer, you were completely negative on sunder. seems obvious to me.” = shut up.

    If you guys don’t want people to participate here, just say so.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i have no say in whether or not you participate here. my view however is that you are more negatively inclined toward sunder than archer. i’m trying to understand why.

  4. Ryan Kelly

    I voiced my concerns about Sunder and was jumped all over and I felt I’ve been put on the defensive regarding my caution regarding her. I don’t know her personally. I’m sure she’s nice and quite intelligent, but I don’t know if she is suited to being a Trustee. The biggest challenges are not programming, but financial. I do know that she lobbied for and took a leadership role in efforts to resist any change to the GATE program. This is something I specifically disagree with her on.

    I don’t know Archer either. I responded favorably to her response about recognizing and handling conflicts of interest. I think that she is experienced in dealing with school-based issues like enforcement of rules and in corralling volunteers, but, again, this is not what a Trustee does. I haven’t found anything to really disagree with her specifically on.

    I would like a clear choice – someone who has the background and skills to deal with the District’s business. I’m not sure that either of these candidates fit that.

    Does that help?

    1. Michelle Millet

      Ryan everyone who post here gets jumped all over for one opinion or another. It would be no fun if we all agreed with each other. I appreciate hearing opinions different from my own, so please keep them coming:-)

  5. DavisAnon

    Points well-taken, Ryan. And I, too, appreciate hearing your opinions. I’m not sure I’d say Ms. Sunder was opposed to “any change in the GATE program”. From what I remember of her letters (and I certainly could be wrong in my recollection), it seemed she was more focused on ensuring that the district followed best educational practices and used well-structured, non-biased methods to obtain objective evidence in assisting decision-making rather than dismantling or damaging a program based on anecdotes, poorly-designed surveys or biased evaluations.

    I did hear her speak about STEM programs and project-based learning, and my impression is that she is open to a variety of educational approaches. At one point she said piloting a program for a time with comparison of outcomes would be a reasonable approach for potential new learning programs to see if something would be a good option for our district, cost effective, serve students well, and to ‘fine tune’ it rather than just rolling it out on a larger scale only to find it was a costly failure. Regardless, I think the district will have its hands full trying to implement Common Core and is going to need to focus on that for at least the next year or two in order to get a strong start.

    And I agree, it’s still early and we’re all still just finding out what the candidates stand for. I know I have a lot of work to do before deciding who my votes will go to in the fall. We should get a chance to see Alan in action these next several months now that he’s on the Board and can get a better sense of his approach.

    1. Don Shor

      I think the context of her comments is important. A group had formed that wanted to ‘review’ GATE and the rhetoric against GATE was getting pretty heated. Bob Dunning was writing antagonistic columns and there was a coordinated effort underway to, essentially, dismantle the GATE program. So a number of parents with kids in the program responded to that. It wasn’t opposition to ‘any change in the GATE program’, it was defense of the value of the program. The Board reviewed GATE and made some rather minor changes. I doubt it is going to come up again any time soon. I think it is a mischaracterization to suggest that she, or the other candidates who wrote letters on behalf of GATE, oppose any changes.

      1. wdf1

        Don Shor: I think the context of her comments is important. A group had formed that wanted to ‘review’ GATE and the rhetoric against GATE was getting pretty heated. Bob Dunning was writing antagonistic columns and there was a coordinated effort underway to, essentially, dismantle the GATE program. So a number of parents with kids in the program responded to that.

        It depends on how far back you want to go to find cause…

        All that you note was at least partially (if not substantially) motivated by a lawsuit that charged that GATE selection in DJUSD was discriminatory. In response to legal advice given to the school district to settle the case, the school board opted to have a lottery for GATE/AIM slots. There were some who thought the district capitulated and somehow should have fought for a different outcome. Source

        To say that everyone who questions how the GATE/AIM program is implemented in DJUSD is a hater is probably oversimplifying the kind of concerns that are floating out there.

        1. Don Shor

          To say that everyone who questions how the GATE/AIM program is implemented in DJUSD is a hater

          Yes, if someone said that, it would be an oversimplification. Good thing nobody said that.

        2. Don Shor

          Here is a description of the PAGE group: http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/community-group-seeks-change-in-gate-program/
          There is no question they were seeking to eliminate the existing self-contained GATE program.

          “The program divides the community, subjects students to rigid labeling and tracking, and fails to meet the needs of ‘twice exceptional’ students who are intellectually gifted and also have special needs. The current program is inconsistent with community values of equity, inclusion and a shared commitment to raising healthy and well-adjusted young adults.

          If your child was in GATE, it would be hard to see PAGE as proposing anything other than a direct attack on the program as it existed at the time.

  6. wdf1

    The alternative that was floated at the time was a guarantee of differentiated instruction in elementary schools that would accommodate GATE. Is there a good pedagogical reason not to run both (self-contained and differentiated instruction) for GATE/AIM students in the district? Because right now it seems to be an either/or

    There are many GATE/AIM identified students for whom the self-contained model does not work. Here are examples:

    Student is in Spanish Immersion or Montessori — must drop the program in order to participate in AIM
    Student has non-AIM-identified siblings — means a family may have to operate between two different elementary schools
    Parents prefer to have their students interact with a greater demographic and intellectual diversity of students.

    At the JH level, only Emerson JH offers an integrated/differentiated instruction model of AIM. Why not offer this at two or three JH campuses?

    1. Don Shor

      Because right now it seems to be an either/or

      PAGE proposed it as an either/or, and denigrated the existing program. This was not a conversation or a proposal for modifying the existing program or for running two types of GATE programs. Your questions may have validity. But it isn’t how the conversation was framed at the time.

      1. wdf1

        I think you rightly cite that PAGE language is harsher than is justified.

        But I also see a notable problem with the Davis Excel position. One point about under-representation in the AIM program is with Latino students:

        A few weeks ago, the district published data about the ethnic diversity of children who enrolled in self-contained GATE. What those data showed was that GATE enrollment was more ethnically diverse than the district as a whole, but that some ethnic sub-groups were underrepresented. In particular, Latino students were under enrolled. One question that these data raised was whether these specific subgroups were underrepresented by choice (including choosing based on transportation options) or if they had not fared well in the identification process. A few days ago, the district distributed data about the diversity of GATE identified students. These data show that the lower than expected Latino enrollment is due to student or family choice.

        17% of identified students were Latino but only 8% of the students who enrolled were Latino. Did these students prefer to go into their neighborhood program or another choice program, or did they end up on the waiting list?

        The majority of Latino students were identified at the 99th percentile, and under the old rank order process all 99th percentile students would be placed if they chose to be placed. So it is clear that for many of these students, non-enrollment was by choice.

        source

        I take issue with the way that the author concludes that non-enrollment was by choice.

        When addressing a Latino population, it is necessary to know how many of those families are predominantly Spanish-speaking. Among those Spanish-speaking families (with very limited English), how many parents are adequately informed about what AIM is and what it means to be AIM/GATE – identified? There is very little adequate information available in Spanish throughout the district. The district makes a start by translating some forms into Spanish, but if a Spanish-speaking parent wants to ask follow up questions, then adequate response is very hard to come by.

        Beyond that, are there any economic reasons why perhaps Spanish-speaking Latino families don’t participate? Is it because they live in the Montgomery Elementary attendance area and lack transportation to another site that offers AIM? Do the AIM schools lack after school services (homework club) that students from Spanish-speaking families depend on at Montgomery Elementary?

        In noting the non-participation in AIM by Latino families, I wish the author had been more reflective about why those families were “choosing” not to participate. By using the concept that it was a “choice,” the author finesses his way past considering whether there are genuine access issues involved.

  7. Pingback: Barbara Archer Becomes First Candidate to File | .:Davis Vanguard:.

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