Can Davis K-12 teachers afford to live in Davis and, if not, does it matter?

Share:
Bob Poppenga is a candidate for the DJUSD School Board
Bob Poppenga is a candidate for the DJUSD School Board

by Bob Poppenga

Recent conversations with several Davis teachers brought to light the issue of whether DJUSD teachers can afford to buy a house within District boundaries. While hard data is limited, I have been told that approximately 60% of current teachers in the District live in Davis with the majority of the 60% either experienced teachers with 15 or more years of service or young teachers who are renting apartments.

The percentage of Davis teachers living in the city from other demographics (e.g., mid-career teachers, early career teachers with families) might be much lower. Anecdotally, a large number of young Davis teachers with families live in surrounding communities such as Dixon, Woodland, Natomas, and in communities east of Sacramento.

The percentage of teachers unable to buy a home in Davis is likely to increase over the next several years due to an influx of younger teachers replacing a large cohort of experienced teachers who are near retirement.

Another factor contributing to the inability of many young teachers to buy a home, even in communities with more affordable housing than Davis, is an ever-increasing college debt burden that, in many cases, will take years to pay down.

An interesting report by Redfin Research Center (www.redfin.com) stated that only 17% of homes for sale in California are affordable on a teacher’s salary. The percentage drops to zero in San Francisco.

Traditionally, DJUSD has been considered a desirable place to teach and as a result has had a leg up on the competition for attracting highly qualified teachers. However, relatively low overall teacher salaries resulting in fewer people wanting to enter the profession, a nation-wide demand for new teachers as experienced teachers retire, and the high cost of housing are likely to make competition much more intense.

It is reasonable to speculate that the great reputation of Davis schools, combined with a slow growth history, will continue to make it hard for teachers to live in Davis since competition for limited housing will keep home prices high compared to surrounding communities. It’s ironic that the teachers who make our schools so desirable in the first place are priced out of the Davis housing market in part because are schools are so desirable.

A recent article (July 22, 3014) in the Davis Enterprise indicated that more homes are now for sale in Davis compared to the last several years, but their prices are higher. While I have not checked the numbers, it seems as though current housing prices are equivalent to those just prior to the recession. According to the Enterprise, the median price of a Davis home was $551,272 for all home types and $595,000 for single-family homes.

The article stated that during the first half of 2014, 38 properties sold for less than $300,000 and 114 properties sold for between $300,000 and $499,999. What income would support the purchase of a $300,000 to $500,000 home? Assuming a conventional 30-year fixed interest mortgage with an interest rate of 4.3% and a 20% down payment, a $300,000 home would require a monthly mortgage payment of approximately $1200 (excluding property taxes and home insurance) and a $500,000 home would require a monthly mortgage payment of approximately $2000.

Further assuming that housing costs should not exceed 30% of family income, $1200 and $2000 monthly payments would translate into a needed annual income of approximately $48,000 and $80,000, respectively. Houses at the lower end of the range are typically around 1000 square feet, which would be very small for a family. A 1500 square foot home at $300 per square foot would cost $450,000. In comparison, the median Woodland home price is about $274,000, while Dixon comes in at about $320,000 (approximately 50 to 60% of the Davis median price).

Beginning teacher salaries in DJUSD are approximately $40,000 give or take a few thousand. According to the California Department of Education, the average scheduled teacher salary was $66,722 in Davis, $61,900 in Woodland, and $61,477 in Dixon. Even if a teacher can afford a home in Davis, they might opt for a home in a lower priced community in order to have more disposable income for other uses.

Mid- to late-career teachers might be unable to afford a home in Davis as well. A recent report by the Center for American Progress stated that “mid- to late-career teachers are not earning what they deserve, nor are they able to gain the salaries that support a middle-class existence” (www.americanprogress.org). One result is that many teachers leave the profession early to seek higher paying jobs. Admittedly, low salaries are not restricted to the teaching profession and middle class salaries in a variety of professions are taking a hit.

Another relevant article to attracting and keeping talented teachers was in the August 3rd edition of the New York Times and was titled “Affordable Housing Draws Middle Class to Inland Cities.” “Rising rents and the difficulty of securing a mortgage on the coasts have proved a boon to inland cities that offer the middle class a firmer footing and an easier life.

In the eternal competition among urban centers, the shift has produced some new winners.” Affordable cities that are growing rapidly include El Paso, San Antonio, Columbus, OH, Little Rock, and Oklahoma City. Thus, newly minted teachers trained by UC or CSU, might be less inclined to remain in high-priced California and to seek out opportunities in more affordable regions of the country.

A couple of qualifiers: 1) individual teacher salaries do not always equate to total family income since there might be two wage earners in the family and many teachers supplement their incomes with other jobs and 2) not all teachers would necessarily live in Davis even if they could afford to do so.

Perhaps the first question to ask is whether it ultimately matters if teachers live outside of the community in which they teach. I’m sure that there are differences of opinion in this regard, but most people that I have spoken to about the issue feel that it is important for teachers to live and raise their families in the communities where they teach.

There is certainly more connection to the community and schools, particularly for those teachers with K-12 age children who would be participating in school programs. Living in the same community decreases travel time and costs and perhaps provides for greater willingness to participate in and attend extracurricular activities.

One positive that is more unique to a university town like Davis would be the potential for more informal interaction with UCD faculty and a greater awareness of university resources and programs that might be leveraged to help in the classroom.

Working under the assumption that it is desirable to have Davis teachers live in Davis but that many can’t due to the high cost of housing, the next question is what can be done to remedy the situation?

UCD has long recognized that the high cost of housing in the region can negatively impact faculty recruitment and has developed programs to assist faculty in buying a home (not restricted to Davis homes).

The programs include a taxable housing stipend at the time of recruitment that can be used to buy a home, mortgage interest rates below prevailing rates, and an ability to buy certain homes at below prevailing home prices.

Whether similar programs are feasible for Davis K-12 teachers should be explored and their relative costs evaluated. Other districts such as Los Angeles have attempted to provide affordable housing for teachers with mixed success (www.laschoolreport.com). Such efforts could be examined for guidance as to what might or might not work. At a minimum, data should be collected on why teachers live outside of the district so that trends can be monitored and short- to long-term impacts on the District can be assessed.

Useful data will likely be collected as part of the District’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to assess teacher retention. However, using data collected over the next few years will likely result in a baseline that does not take into account long-term District trends.

One simple, cost-effective idea worth exploring would be to work with local real estate agents to give teachers early notice of available housing so that they don’t lose out in our fast-paced, competitive housing market.

Some might argue that focusing only on affordable housing for teachers is unfair given the difficulties that many others have finding good, affordable housing. However, given the critical role that our teachers and schools play in maintaining a strong community, an attempt should be made to provide viable options for them to live in the community in which they teach. This will help recruit and retain good teachers. As a School Board member, I would strive to bring knowledgeable people together to see if creative, cost-effective solutions can be found to address a District problem that I believe is significant.

Share:

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

98 thoughts on “Can Davis K-12 teachers afford to live in Davis and, if not, does it matter?”

  1. wdf1

    A worthwhile topic to engage. Usually district teachers salaries are discussed in terms of what area districts are offering. Although employees such as teachers maybe deemed more committed employees if they live in the same community where they work, I think the assumption is that teachers may live and commute from within the larger region the same as any other workers may commute elsewhere between home & work. There are some benefits that DJUSD employees do have that can aid in addressing some issues that Poppenga raises.

    DJUSD teachers living outside the district have the right to enroll their own children in the school district on the basis of working within the Davis school district. If a DJUSD employee doesn’t reside within the school district, then I think there is a good argument that the employee maybe just as committed if his/her own kids are enrolled in the Davis schools. In the past school board candidate Jose Granda has criticized and argued against this policy because those out-of-district employees don’t have to pay the local school parcel taxes. IMO, I think it is a reasonable trade-off to have this policy, which is provided for in California state ed-code.

    Another program that teachers have is home mortgage assistance through CalSTRS, the California teachers retirement program. Again, it may fall short of addressing all the issues involved purchasing a home in Davis, but it’s a program that DJUSD teachers should be made aware of.

    1. DavisVoter

      What about DJUSD employees who are not teachers? Do their kids get to come to school here too based on parental employment? Just curious. I assume there is readily available data on how common it is for DJUSD employees’ kids to come to school here – do you have a link?

      1. hpierce

        Along those lines, I thought ANY parent who works in Davis, but lives outside the District boundaries, has the option of enrolling their child(ren) in the District, even if only on a ‘space-available’ basis… could someone address this as well as DavisVoter’s query?

      2. wdf1

        DavisVoter: What about DJUSD employees who are not teachers? Do their kids get to come to school here too based on parental employment?

        Yes. Even workers in Davis who don’t work for the district may have their kids attend Davis schools.

        California ed code source

        (b) A school district may deem a pupil to have complied with the residency requirements for school attendance in the district if at least one parent or the legal guardian of the pupil is physically employed within the boundaries of that district for a minimum of 10
        hours during the school week.

        I assume there is readily available data on how common it is for DJUSD employees’ kids to come to school here…

        Anecdotally I think it is common. DJUSD tags students based on where they reside (from time to time the district releases numbers of DJUSD students who reside within and outside the district), but I don’t think that the school district would provide you information on whom employs the parents of the district students.

          1. wdf1

            DavisVoter: Any ideas on where I would look to find the information that has been released?

            If you occasionally search for Davis Enterprise articles using the phrase “interdistrict transfer”, you will find some relevant information. This article is one of the more recent, but it doesn’t cite any specific numbers. The linked Davis Enterprise article is referencing an annual demographic report that is available here.

            You can search among school board documents online for demographic reports from past years.

          2. DavisVoter

            Per p.12 of the linked document, it looks as though there were 666 out-of-district students as of 10/13, or just under 8% of total enrollment. This number is projected to move around within between 661 and 679 over the next 10 years.

            It appears that the District decides on a space-available basis how many interdistrict transfers to accept. I see from the article that there is a federal law that applies only to families that relocate due to economic distress, but in general how does it decide which particular pupils to accept? Is there a link to some formal policy about this?

            By the way, are these transfer students eligible for oversubscribed programs at the elementary schools?

            Thanks – this is very informative.

          3. wdf1

            I think the district accepts students in order of when they enroll, until seats fill up. If seats are all filled up, then they don’t accept any more. Such students might still stay on a wait list until an opening becomes available.

            One thing to be aware of in the demographic report is that it does not include students enrolled in Da Vinci Charter Academy. What is masked by the interdistrict transfer numbers is that a DJUSD student may enroll in Da Vinci, and then not be counted in the official DJUSD talley. This would open up space in the district for an interdistrict transfer. Also, Da Vinci attracts a higher percentage of out-of-district students than other sites. Da Vinci also does not officially take money collected from the school parcel tax, though they have access to money that the traditional schools don’t have access to. Also, Da Vinci students have some freedom to enroll in district classes at other sites, DHS and Emerson JH being the most popular/accessible campuses.

          4. DavisVoter

            Interesting – it seems the District has considerable capacity to attract students from out of district to “replace” District students who go to charter schools. It also seems that the charter school located in the District has considerable capacity to attract students from outside the District. But the exact size of the pool of available transfers remains an open question.

            I’m also gathering from this discussion that it is possible for an interdistrict transfer student to get a spot in an oversubscribed Davis elementary school program that would otherwise go to a Davis resident student. Is this accurate? Is it accurate for GATE/AIM?

          5. Don Shor

            it is possible for an interdistrict transfer student to get a spot in an oversubscribed Davis elementary school program that would otherwise go to a Davis resident student.

            I don’t think that’s the case. When our kids were transferring in and the district was crowded, we had one year in which our son was accepted and placed, but there was no place for our daughter in the first week of school. District enrollment is really in flux for the first few days. She was not placed until regular students had been accommodated. You’re actually in a weird limbo when you’re interdistrict. You apply to leave your district of residence, and that is accepted basically automatically. But then you apply for the district of attendance, and that isn’t automatic. It is space-available. I actually looked into the state law at the time, and it is a fact that the district of residence would have to take you back if there was a problem at the other end.
            It’s also worth noting that when the district tried to throw us all out in the 1990’s due to space issues, we found it very clear in the Ed. code that any student who has attended continuously due to parental employment or child care in the district must be allowed to continue. The district contested that. While our appeals were upheld at the county board level, they specifically did not make the decisions based on that argument, nor did they establish it as a precedent. But other districts facing the same crowding issue, such as Elk Grove, felt the law was very clear as we had interpreted it.
            Bottom line, though: an interdistrict transfer student does not bump a resident student.

          6. DavisVoter

            Well, maybe we’ll get some more definitive information on the bumping issue at some point.

            Bringing this back to the original point of Poppenga’s article, it sounds as though the kids of DJUSD teachers who live out of district have to get in line with everyone else who has parents who work in Davis (or who has received child care in Davis? – not clear on the “child care” point in Don’s post). It does leave me wondering how viable a solution interdistrict transfer really is for DJUSD teachers, assuming we accept Poppenga’s position that there is a special interest in having teachers live in the district.

          7. Don Shor

            No, it was the case that the kids of teachers and district employees who are out of district have priority over other interdistrict transfers applicants. I don’t believe that policy has changed. There is a priority ranking system.

          8. DavisVoter

            sorry, last clause should have been: “assuming we accept that there is a special interest in having teachers live in the district or in having teachers’ kids go to school in the district.”

          9. DavisVoter

            Don Shor – Your last comment seems to be in some tension with this comment from wdf1:

            “I think the district accepts students in order of when they enroll, until seats fill up. If seats are all filled up, then they don’t accept any more. Such students might still stay on a wait list until an opening becomes available.”

            That suggests a first-come, first-served system.

  2. Jim Frame

    One simple, cost-effective idea worth exploring would be to work with local real estate agents to give teachers early notice of available housing so that they don’t lose out in our fast-paced, competitive housing market.

    Absent a formal waiver by the seller to restrict notice of availability to a special interest group, I doubt that any listing agency would agree to this. Sellers want offers, the more the merrier and the sooner the better. It seems to me that a listing agency would be violating the agency relationship by limiting dissemination of listing notice without specific authorization to do so.

  3. wdf1

    Poppenga: A recent article (July 22, 3014) in the Davis Enterprise indicated that more homes are now for sale in Davis compared to the last several years, but their prices are higher.

    link to referenced article

    While I have not checked the numbers, it seems as though current housing prices are equivalent to those just prior to the recession. According to the Enterprise, the median price of a Davis home was $551,272 for all home types and $595,000 for single-family homes.

    This can be verified http://www.zillow.com/davis-ca/home-values/. Although Davis housing prices have reached pre-recession values, the high point for Davis homes was in late 2005/early 2006. According to that link, we haven’t reached that point yet.

  4. Frankly

    The hyper-inflationary rise in the cost of housing is a universal problem, not just one for teachers. In Davis it is exacerbated by the tendency of the voters to reject residential growth combined with the rising demand for housing to support UCD.

    Ironically, the hyper inflationary rise in the cost of education also prevents many families from being able to buy or move up in the real estate market.

    Everywhere we see hyper-inflationary cost increases, we also see the ham-hand of big government meddling in the markets. Real estate has become a speculators investment market specifically because government keeps home mortgage interest rates artificially low, and then demands that banks lend and lend again to people lacking credit worthiness.

    We need a change in government to shift from benefiting real estate investors to one where investing in new business starts and business expansion becomes more favored investment.

    1. wdf1

      Buying a house in Davis is more challenging than in surrounding communities. The way that many lower income families achieve DJUSD residency is by renting, which is more sensitive to the UCD student housing market. That is how we did it, until we could afford a situation to buy a house in Davis. I know of families who own (pay a mortgage on) their primary home outside of Davis, but then move into a Davis rental and rent out their owned home while their kids are in the Davis schools.

      1. Frankly

        That makes sense, but rents are also quite high in Davis. With rates as low as they are today, and considering the tax benefits, you can have a mortgage payment that is not very much higher than the rental charge.

        Something is broken when that is the case. This means an investor-speculator can snatch up homes and rent them for almost immediate net positive cash flow. And with all the investor-speculators snatching up homes, it reduces the supply available for home buyers and causes the prices to escalate… something that also attracts and benefits investor-speculators.

        People with money to invest should be investing in business starts and growth to create jobs so wages increase (due to the bigger demand for labor). Then the cost of real estate will start to level with wages again.

        The economy was a house of cards that crashed in 2008 because of all the capital chasing real estate and secularized mortgages… it is all happening again.

        1. Don Shor

          Many of the people I know who are investing in rental property at a smaller scale (s-f houses, small apartment units) in Davis are retired folks who would not want the risks or complications of investing in business starts etc. Basically retired UC faculty and staff augmenting their retirement income.

          1. Frankly

            Easy money for seniors at the expense of all those youngs that need jobs. Yes, that is the trend.

          2. Don Shor

            And the parents of people who have students at UCD, buy a house for their kid to live in and then rent out the other rooms.

        2. hpierce

          Similar thought with Don… except possibly to increase Frankly’s profession’s success (and wages, benefits, etc), I’ll stick with a Davis real estate investment rather than a startup financial services business.

  5. Anon

    Let’s face it – in order to purchase a home these days, both the husband and wife need to be working. It is getting harder and harder for a single person to own a home, unless it is far, far out in the boonies.

    1. South of Davis

      Anon wrote:

      > Let’s face it – in order to purchase a home these days, both the husband
      > and wife need to be working.

      With most people under 35 still paying off student loan debt it is getting even harder for most people to buy a home without rich parents.

      About 90% of the Davis couples under 35 we know that own homes over 80% for “help” from parents (in the Bay Area it is 100% of the people we know).

  6. Don Shor

    A huge percentage of the single-family homes in Davis are owned as investment rental properties. There is no way to prevent that, and the demand for rental housing here is very high. Until more rental housing is built, this problem of home ownership for Circle one, your current preferred under-served demographic: (teachers/young adults/young professionals/lower-income families) will not be solved. Nothing has changed in this regard for decades. The metric we have is the apartment vacancy rate of less than 2%.

    1. DavisVoter

      Are apartment building owners an important political bloc in Davis stopping new rental construction? Or is it more a matter of neighbors/NIMBYs? Or a general skepticism about housing growth? Or something else?

      (Note this is an informational question not a rhetorical question: I don’t really have an idea of the answer.)

      1. South of Davis

        DavisVoter wrote:

        > Are apartment building owners an important political bloc in
        > Davis stopping new rental construction?

        No the apartment owners want to build more apartments but can’t do it (Tandem the largest apartment owner in town has been trying to build apartments in Covell Village across from the Nugget Mall for years and dozens of other apartment owners keep trying without much luck to build infill apartments (look at how hard it was to get the little apartments built across from Central Park)…

          1. South of Davis

            hpierce wrote:

            > Units by central park… pretty sure those were for sale
            > ownership units, not rental units, which isn’t to say they
            > aren’t rented out.

            I have been told (that unlike most other homes in Davis) that the city will not let the owners rent them out (I was told the same thing about the newer condos on the other side of Central Park east of the (rebuilt) Phi Dent house.

      2. Don Shor

        I know that some people who oppose housing development think that apartment building owners are an important political bloc in Davis, and that they stop not just new rental construction but even UC from building more housing (“UC doesn’t build more housing because they’re in bed with the big apartment owners”). It is very difficult to assess how accurate either perception is.
        There is a small number of property owners that owns and manages the largest apartment complexes in Davis. There are a lot of smaller apartment units scattered around town. And there are a lot of small units attached to houses; what the city calls “garden apartments” and what we tend to call granny flats. And, of course, many, many single-family homes have been converted to multi-student rentals. It’s possible that those bigger owners/developers have the ear of our council and staff, but really the issue is that investing in housing in Davis for rental purposes is very lucrative and a nice, comfortable source of income for small individual investors.

    2. South of Davis

      Don wrote:

      > A huge percentage of the single-family homes in Davis are owned
      > as investment rental properties.

      Do you have an actual number? I know that a fair amount of homes in Davis are rentals but I’m pretty sure it is a small “percentage” (out of three Davis neighborhoods I lived in over 90% of the single-family homes were occupied by the owners).

      In our past East Davis neighborhood out of three streets of homes there was just one (1) student rental (and one other

      1. Don Shor

        There was a startling number posted recently, and now I can’t find it. I know Jim Frame commented on it, so perhaps he remembers. I think it’s likely that they’re concentrated more in central and east Davis.

        1. Jim Frame

          I recall questioning the number, but don’t recall if there was every any clarification on where the number came from or what it represented. Unfortunately, the search feature on this site is far too primitive to make finding that exchange practical.

          1. Don Shor

            Found it. Rob White was the source:

            2. “Is this going to create a need for more residential housing?”
            Adding jobs to any institution in Davis will potentially increase the demand for housing, including the university. People often want to live close to where they work. One solution is to work with the university to identify ways to decrease the amount of single family homes in Davis being rented for student housing, which is well over 40% of all homes. By providing more appropriate student housing in Davis (on and off campus), existing homes can be available for the workforce. And almost every university in the world deals with student housing issues – it is the benefit and challenge of having a robust university as a central core of the economy. Additionally, mass transit (both existing bus and train connections as well as new technologies) can be increased to serve the demand to surrounding communities of Woodland, West Sacramento, and Dixon – making an innovation center important to Davis and the region.

            https://www.davisvanguard.org/innovation-centers-faq-part-1/comment-page-1/#comment-240770 July 17 2014

        2. hpierce

          It’s pretty easy to get the numbers from the City… using the GIS system, they know where all the DU’s are, and I understand it’s a simple overlay to link that to units where the utility bills are sent somewhere other than the unit (indicates a rental, generally). I know Planners can easily see this when they’re evaluating a specific project.

          1. South of Davis

            Don re-posted from Rob:

            ” the amount of single family homes in Davis being rented for student housing, which is well over 40% of all homes.”

            This number is WAY WAY high and there is no way that “WELL OVER “40% of the homes in Davis are “student housing”.

            The city has almost 15,000 single family homes (over 15,000 if you count Willowbank and El Macero).

            For the 40% + number to be real it would mean that about 1/3 of the Davis residents were students living in single family homes (or we have a huge number of “students” living alone in 3 and 4 bedroom homes)…

            I have my tax bill and city services bill mailed to my office (and I know many others that send the bills to CPAs or book keepers) so where the bills go does not let you know if a home is a rental. Despite this I bet well over 90% of tax and city services bills are mailed to single family homes in Davis.

          2. Don Shor

            Here are some numbers I came up with for a previous discussion. Note the census data is from 2000. I haven’t updated, but I’m sure it’s not gotten any better from a home-ownership standpoint.
            Housing Tenure
            Occupied housing units 22948 100.00%
            Owner-occupied housing units. 10235 44.6%
            Renter-occupied housing units. 12713 55.4%

            12713 renter-occupied housing units

            8032 apartments

            = 4681 renter-occupied non-apartment housing units.
            Approx. 20% of the total housing stock in town.

          3. South of Davis

            Don wrote:

            > 4681 renter-occupied non-apartment housing units.
            > Approx. 20% of the total housing stock in town.

            Close to half the 4,681 number are duplex and 4 plex rental units (only 5U+ are counted as “apartments”) and as hpierce says “a lot” (I would say “most”) SF homes “rental” in Davis are rented to non-students so we probably have LESS than 5% of the SF homes in the city rented by students (about 10x less than the “well over” 40% number originally tossed out)…

  7. tj

    Poor suffering teachers – This is such a tired topic. Teachers are pretty well paid and get very good benefits and retirement, esp considering it’s part time work, and that no major has easier classes than education.

    Most people who are single will initially find it hard to buy a house, it’s not a problem unique to teachers.
    If you cruise thru the teachers parking lot, you’ll see a lot of nice new expensive cars. Car vs. House. People have to make choices on how they spend their money.

    I’m not impressed with this campaign tactic.

    1. wdf1

      tj: Poor suffering teachers – This is such a tired topic. Teachers are pretty well paid and get very good benefits and retirement, esp considering it’s part time work, and that no major has easier classes than education.

      And this is a tired cheap, criticism, IMO, meant to sweep the argument under the rug and be done with it. It’s like saying that a professional musician is paid handsomely at $75/hour, considering that minimum wage is somewhere in the neighborhood of $10/hour. Although $75/hour of public contact seems generous, it does not account for the practice/prep that’s involved, transportation, setup, time spent in publicity and hustling for the next job, equipment and material costs, etc. Once you factor in all those costs, then $75/hour to the customer often works out to about $10/hour or less at a timed rate to a professional musician.

      Teachers could be paid worse, but on the whole I don’t think they are paid enough to create as competitive enough a pool for the optimal concentration of “best” or committed teachers. For a variety of reasons, I think DJUSD teachers are probably better than average, given what salaries they are paid for this region.

      If you cruise thru the teachers parking lot, you’ll see a lot of nice new expensive cars.

      I really don’t see a lot of that. I saw a principal park a Lexus, once.

      1. hpierce

        wdf1… only ‘problem’ is, raising salary/benefits for new hires to the district would necessarily “float the boat” for existing teachers, no matter how “best” or committed they are… or aren’t. If we had a system where existing teachers had to compete to retain their positions, that might be a different matter.

        In other government service, agencies can target certain classifications to recruit ‘best and brightest’, but even then, it is imperfect, at best.

      2. Frankly

        Teachers are well enough compensated given their rejection of pay differentiation based on performance. Basically they keep the pool a mile wide and a foot deep.

        The supply of young people wanting to be teachers exceeds the supply of jobs.

        1. wdf1

          Frankly: Teachers are well enough compensated given their rejection of pay differentiation based on performance.

          An apparently sensible response, until you realize that you can’t define what those “performance” measures are in a way that’s sensible. Then it’s a dead end. NCLB (and Common Core) promise accountability based on standardized test scores. But then on careful consideration, it becomes apparent that there are all kinds of things that are not measured by those standardized tests.

          I still haven’t seen your promised article on that topic.

          1. Mark West

            Simple answer, allow the teachers union to propose the method for judging performance through negotiations with the Districts. Saying it cannot be done is utter nonsense.

            Instead of waiting for Frankly, why don’t you propose an acceptable solution? You seem to know and value good teaching, so you propose the criteria.

          2. Frankly

            In wdf1’s defense, I previously promised a VG article proposing a model. Before I wrote the piece I started researching the current practices being developed and being implemented. I came away with a couple observations that made me pause.

            One – I don’t have to do the work because so many others are already doing it. Since I last peeked into this topic there has been an explosion of activity to design and implement teacher performance management. 32 states have implemented, or are in the process of implementing a teacher pay for performance model.

            Two – the education establishment is swarming all of it like locusts to a field… trying desperately to kill the crop before it grows. They are well armed loci and I would need to spend a lot of time checking each of their arguments against real facts and statistics.

            The bottom line for me is that this point from wdf1 is mute because it is the exact direction we are heading. There are a lot of different models being tested and some of them are going to prove effective and then they can be adopted.

          3. wdf1

            Frankly: In wdf1′s defense, I previously promised a VG article proposing a model. Before I wrote the piece I started researching the current practices being developed and being implemented. I came away with a couple observations that made me pause.

            I think you probably realized that the issue is far more complex than you first thought.

            Since I last peeked into this topic there has been an explosion of activity to design and implement teacher performance management. 32 states have implemented, or are in the process of implementing a teacher pay for performance model.

            So which do you like? Pick one. It would be nice to advance the conversation in this area. And it would be a service to other readers and citizens of Davis.

            Are you aware that “Race to the Top” required states to use standardized testing and use that data to evaluate teachers? Somewhere between 30 and 40 states adopted RTTT requirements. A lot of those “performance models” are connected to that effort. Another RTTT requirement was the adoption of Common Core. I think deep down you must appreciate Obama and Arne Duncan for all that.

            …the education establishment is swarming all of it like locusts to a field… trying desperately to kill the crop before it grows.

            I think there is anger over the failure of NCLB and general distrust of government-imposed “big data” schemes that mostly seem to benefit standardized test publishers. Any effort at teacher evaluations that involves significant use of standardized test scores is met with skepticism in that light. There is conservative push back, populist push back, and liberal push back. And a surprising amount of it comes from parents.

            Is school testing driving parents away from their child’s school?

            I found that parents of public school children residing in states with more highly developed assessment systems expressed more negative attitudes about their children’s schools and about government in general than public-school parents in states with less extensive testing policies. I also found that parents in states with more stringent policies were somewhat less likely to participate in their children’s education.

            Texas House votes to reduce high-stakes testing, change graduation requirements

            Vote was 145-2 to reducing the required number of tests from 15 to 5

            Failure of D.C. Education Reform Initiatives Revealed

            This year’s release of District of Columbia Public Schools standardized test scores came with much less fanfare than in 2013 — growth in “proficiency” is smaller, and district leaders were recently called out for lack of transparency in past releases, and for using averages to hide growing race- and income-based gaps.

          4. wdf1

            Mark West: Simple answer, allow the teachers union to propose the method for judging performance through negotiations with the Districts. Saying it cannot be done is utter nonsense.

            Instead of waiting for Frankly, why don’t you propose an acceptable solution? You seem to know and value good teaching, so you propose the criteria.

            Why don’t I propose an acceptable solution? Because I think it’s a waste of time, especially using standardized test scores. I think it’s probably more productive to measure and work with systems as a whole.

          5. Mark West

            wdf1: “Why don’t I propose an acceptable solution? Because I think it’s a waste of time, especially using standardized test scores. I think it’s probably more productive to measure and work with systems as a whole.”

            I completely agree with your comments about the inappropriate use of standardized test scores in the teacher evaluation process. That doesn’t change however the need to be able to judge and reward quality teaching. The best teachers should be rewarded for their fine work and not just for how long they have held their job.

            Do I understand correctly that you think judging teacher quality on an individual basis is a waste of time? If so, then what is so special about teaching that makes it the only profession where we are unable to judge quality?

            Every teacher and every Principal on campus knows who the good teachers are, and who are the ones in need of improvement. If the teachers know, then the teachers should be able to propose a system that rewards quality and improvement.

            Complaining about the inappropriate use of standardized test scores whenever this topic comes up is just a cop out.

  8. MrsW

    I think the issue of teachers being able to afford to buy a home in Davis, teachers actually wanting to buy in Davis, and teachers buying in Davis, is complicated by tenure. A number of my children’s secondary teachers have been “temporary” hires for six or more years now. For the ones that are providing a second income and who have children in the District, it’s no big deal. A couple of teachers whom we liked, however, left for places they felt tenure was more probable. We also have several neighbors who are teachers in other Districts, but send their kids to DJUSD. In other words, we have teachers who can afford to live here, but do not teach here. All of this is to say, I think a more accurate title for this article would be “Can TENURED Davis K-12 teachers afford to live in Davis and, if not, does it matter?”

    To answer the question, having teachers be able to afford a house is Davis is really low on my list of things that matter. Being able to afford a house doesn’t make you an ethical person or more professional. Having teachers who are a bit detached from our community might just be the perspective we need. Fostering a school climate where teachers and students want to be there–and would walk in the snow both ways to get there–that’s more important to me. Last, it’s been my observation that a high salary might compensate for poor working environment for about 5 minutes and then its not high enough again, teacher morale is low again, and students suffer again.

    1. wdf1

      MrsW: In other words, we have teachers who can afford to live here, but do not teach here.

      Such teachers that I know are married to spouses who also work — a two-income household.

      Having teachers who are a bit detached from our community might just be the perspective we need.

      I think that’s a bit of an individual issue and in general, I think it would be preferable to leave that choice up to the teacher. It is challenging to buy a house in Davis, but I still think it is reasonably possible under many circumstances (yes, two incomes is most likely necessary). If teachers fall solidly into a category of non-resident workers in a community, along with custodians, landscaping crew, kitchen crews, sanitation crews (garbage collectors), and any other essential workers who only show up in the city during work hours, then I think you’re looking at too much detachment, as well as a shrinking diversity among residents by profession.

      1. South of Davis

        wdf1 wrote:

        > If teachers fall solidly into a category of non-resident workers in a community,
        > along with custodians, landscaping crew, kitchen crews, sanitation crews
        > (garbage collectors), and any other essential workers who only show up in
        > the city during work hours, then I think you’re looking at too much detachment,
        > as well as a shrinking diversity among residents by profession.

        It is interesting to note that some of the Northern California School Districts with the HIGHEST number of non-resident teachers (Hillsborough, Palo Alto, Portola Valley & Woodside) also have some of the HIGHEST test scores and HIGHEST percentage of kids going to college…

        1. wdf1

          SoD: It is interesting to note that some of the Northern California School Districts with the HIGHEST number of non-resident teachers (Hillsborough, Palo Alto, Portola Valley & Woodside) also have some of the HIGHEST test scores and HIGHEST percentage of kids going to college…

          …and the greatest affluence. You left out Saratoga. I only mention it because I worked in Saratoga for a brief time about 14 years ago. I couldn’t live there because it was way too expensive, but I lived close by, in a less affluent community. By most conventional measures Saratoga has the best schools around, worthy of inclusion on your list. But among residents that I encountered, I found a lot of attitudes that showed surprising ignorance and/or disregard of how the other “98%” live.

          So do you think those communities have great schools because of great teachers or because their parents make a lot of money and have access to additional resources because of it?

          Some contributing factors to why those schools can be deemed as great are that they can offer a diverse and rigorous curriculum, and they have some insulation from fiscal instabilities. They are all “basic aid districts“, meaning that they generate the critical bulk of their revenues locally and not from the state.

          Yes, I know you could turn that question around and ask, “but what about Davis?”

          In Davis a lower income family can still live here through the UCD student economy. Rental housing that students might use is relatively affordable to a lower middle class family. That phenomenon is unavailable in the communities you list. Davis has a higher number of students on free/reduced lunch than those more affluent school systems mentioned above.

          DJUSD has good schools because it can offer diverse and rigorous curricula, but it is not a Basic Aid district. It was able to insulate itself better from fiscal problems that other school districts faced because of community fundraising and school parcel taxes.

          1. wdf1

            I’m not sure the context in which you say that. If you’re imagining that DJUSD could somehow become a basic aid district, I think that’s impractical. It would require a higher concentration of million+ dollar homes, which would be incompatible with the pressure for affordable housing, especially for university students.

          2. DavisVoter

            I think those communities have great school outcomes in large part because they have great parents who are highly intelligent, highly educated, and highly committed to their children’s academic success. I think that’s probably why Davis schools have good outcomes too. Do you disagree?

          3. wdf1

            DavisVoter: I think those communities have great school outcomes in large part because they have great parents who are highly intelligent, highly educated, and highly committed to their children’s academic success. I think that’s probably why Davis schools have good outcomes too. Do you disagree?

            Those are factors, motivations, perhaps. An education system is an infrastructure that takes years to build. These results don’t show up overnight.

            Another side to the equation is how does one make an education system work for those whose parents may not be as highly intelligent, not so highly educated, perhaps unfamiliar with what makes for academic success in children. And often as likely, without equivalent financial resources to support an enriching educational experience for their kids, much less think about financing college.

            And for students who may take longer to figure out what their adult career path will be.

          4. South of Davis

            Davis Voter wrote:

            > I think those communities have great school outcomes
            > in large part because they have great parents who are
            > highly intelligent, highly educated, and highly committed
            > to their children’s academic success.

            Then wdf1 wrote:

            > Those are factors, motivations, perhaps. An education
            > system is an infrastructure that takes years to build.

            I agree with Davis Voter that “great parents” are the main (about 90%) of the reason students do well and “bad parents” are the main (about 90%) reason students don’t do well (and/or drop out).

            I agree with wdf1 that it is not fair to set teacher pay based on performance since they have so little to do with student success, but I disagree with wdf1 that spending a ton on “infrastructure” will do anything.

            Just about every (close to 90%) of the children of “highly intelligent, highly educated, and highly committed” parents do well in school where just about every (close to 90%) of the children who live with dumb never married dropout parents who care more about drugs than their kids do poorly in school (before they drop out).

          5. wdf1

            SoD: …but I disagree with wdf1 that spending a ton on “infrastructure” will do anything.

            I said it takes *years* to develop infrastructure. I meant developing educational programs. Davis’ Spanish Immersion program started out with one or two kindergarten classes, then added a class per year along the way, tweaking the program as you go. Finding the right teachers, coordinating instruction from year to year. Now there is a whole elementary school dedicated to Spanish Immersion, and the program extends into junior high. The program started originally within one or two elementary campuses and was then consolidated

            The school music program starts in 4th grade and extends into 12th grade, nine years. The very first cohort of students entering the program in 4th grade may not be as strong as the cohort that enters the program 15 years later.

            School athletics starts from private recreational leagues at elementary grades — Little League, Davis AYSO, city recreational leagues.

            Same with the Da Vinci charter school program and many other school related programs.

            Even a “plain vanilla” traditional school track has a substantial amount of vertical infrastructure that is developed from kindergarten to 12th grade.

            School programs don’t get developed overnight from one year to the next. There is a long term vision in education that is often better understood and appreciated by parents and community members who have stronger educational backgrounds.

            Would you disagree with that? Did you think I meant something else?

        2. Frankly

          SOD: I agree with wdf1 that it is not fair to set teacher pay based on performance since they have so little to do with student success, but I disagree with wdf1 that spending a ton on “infrastructure” will do anything.

          Just about every (close to 90%) of the children of “highly intelligent, highly educated, and highly committed” parents do well in school where just about every (close to 90%) of the children who live with dumb never married dropout parents who care more about drugs than their kids do poorly in school (before they drop out).

          I largely disagree with this line of thinking. If parenting holds this much of the succeed or fail excuse, then why even have public schools?

          I think historically parents spent a lot less time helicoptering over and tiger-mom-ing their little darlings, and more of those kids did just fine.

          I agree that the helicoptered and tiger-mommed kids do better in school; but is that the model we are going to demand? And if that is the model we are going to demand then the education system is absolutely not designed to work well for us.

          The education system exists for only one reason… to education our children. Blaming poor parenting is a non-sequitur… it is a useless opinion unless it is followed up with some ideas to improve parenting. I see this as just being one of the many fallback excuses to deflect from the reality that our education system is not working for most of our kids… it is more and more wired to benefit those with academic gifts… a certain type of intelligence… and parents with education, time and resources to help their little darlings overcome all the shortcomings of the system.

          1. wdf1

            The one thing I liked about NCLB was the effort to hold schools and districts accountable for everyone’s education, but the strategy was flawed. It assumed that only relying on standardized testing in math and English as accountability measures would produce the desired results.

            I think the relationship between income and test scores has more to do with what the parents are able to provide outside of school hours — better diet, better medical care, the means to live in communities with good libraries, safe streets, enriching activities (dance, theater, music lessons, soccer, Little League, Code camps), vacations to interesting places. This often also comes with better educated parents who have larger vocabularies to impart to their kids, the ability to share and talk about a kid’s school subjects and activities, able to help with homework, knowledge of the path needed to get to college.

            Ways to overcome this for lower income families, especially with parents who don’t have post high school education, is to provide supplemental social services connected to the schools or district:

            –access to good prenatal care
            –good pre-school programs
            –health services that include regular screening and could provide checkups for children
            –summer enrichment programs including swimming, athletics, arts, and tutoring
            –after school enrichment programs
            –parenting classes
            –healthy offerings for free/reduced lunch program

            DJUSD actually provides a few of these things — Davis Bridge homework club and summer activities, free/reduced lunch. DJUSD also hosts the Children’s Center State Preschool.

          2. South of Davis

            Frankly wrote:

            > I think historically parents spent a lot less time helicoptering
            > over and tiger-mom-ing their little darlings, and more of
            > those kids did just fine.

            It was a lot easier to “do just fine” historically. My Uncle got a job driving a truck after high school (no college) and after a few years was able to buy a house in San Mateo in the early 70’s for $55K. I just went to Zillow and the home today would sell for $1.8 Million. Closer to home a former East Davis neighbor of mine dropped out of Davis High in his Senior Year to work as a plumber. A few years later in the 70’s he joined the plumbers union and bought his house for $40K. When his kids were in High School he bought a place in Tahoe and is now retired with well over million in real estate. I’m wiling to bet if we asked the real estate agents in town we would not hear of a SINGLE young man with just a high school education buying a home in Davis in decades…

            > The education system exists for only one reason…
            > to education our children. Blaming poor parenting
            > is a non-sequitur

            And saying poor parenting does not make it harder to teach kids is like lack of legs does not make it harder for a track coach to train his kids to win races…

            > I see this as just being one of the many fallback excuses
            > to deflect from the reality that our education system is not
            > working for most of our kids… it is more and more wired to
            > benefit those with academic gifts…

            This is another topic, and I agree with you that the model of pushing every kid to go to college (even after we send more “college” jobs to China & India every day) is a bad idea since the average 30 year old plumber and/or electrician makes way more than the average college grad (but very few teachers and/or counselors with “advanced degrees” will tell a kid they should think about becoming a plumber or electrician.

  9. Don Shor

    UCD has long recognized that the high cost of housing in the region can negatively impact faculty recruitment and has developed programs to assist faculty in buying a home (not restricted to Davis homes).
    The programs include a taxable housing stipend at the time of recruitment that can be used to buy a home, mortgage interest rates below prevailing rates, and an ability to buy certain homes at below prevailing home prices.
    Whether similar programs are feasible for Davis K-12 teachers should be explored and their relative costs evaluated.

    And those special programs amount to overt housing discrimination by the university on behalf of their faculty. They are able to do that, I guess, because they own the land and build the houses, so they can set the prices below market or constrain equity if they so choose. I have serious reservations about taxpayer funds being used to discriminate in housing supply.

    Some might argue that focusing only on affordable housing for teachers is unfair given the difficulties that many others have finding good, affordable housing.

    Those who argue that it is unfair would be exactly right.

  10. Blair Howard

    The school district is in talks to sell two properties, Grande and Wildhorse. Couldn’t the district negotiate something with the purchaser/developer to help their employees afford to buy a home in Davis? It seems like the district isn’t interested in providing a salary so that teachers can live in the community, maybe they can use part of some of their other resources to help teachers live in town. I for one would like to be able to afford to live in Davis, but can not so like many other folks, live in a modest home in Woodland. I think it is important for teachers to be part of the community because it is not just a willingness to stay later and help students or participate in extracurricular activities. When you live even 20 minutes away, you are pulled between concern for your family and the students you serve as a teacher. Many things go into a successful school district and teacher connection is just one of them. But I also know that one reason, among many, for Davis homes being so expensive is because the well regarded school system. It seems sort of odd that educators help make the district what it is, but that also helps price them out of living in town. I think what Bob is pushing for is looking for creative ways to keep the percentage of teaching who live in town up, rather than declining. I think that is an important goal worth pursuing.

    1. MrsW

      “I think what Bob is pushing for is looking for creative ways to keep the percentage of teaching who live in town up, rather than declining. I think that is an important goal worth pursuing.”

      Why do you think its important? How would more teacher-residents than we already have add to teacher quality, which in turn, would add to or enhance students education? Disclosure: exposure to a diversity of adults would count, in my mind, as increasing value, whether those adults live out of town and bring in diversity everyday or live in town and reflect different cultural upbringings.

      1. Blair Howard

        The teachers who do live in town are retiring in droves over the next few years, and so the only other people who live in town are recent graduates still in their student rentals. This is a large change coming up and I don’t think people realize it.
        Why is it important? It is important because when we have teachers living in outside of the district, there is more a chance that they leave. At ten years of experience it become hard to transfer years of service in education, and so transferring districts becomes hard. Thus, many young teachers, once they have settled in to their jobs, start a family and what not, start evaluating whether the district they are in is one they want to stay in for the long term. With the high cost of health insurance and middling pay regionally, many will choose to work closer to where they live, whether that is Woodland, Folsom or Elk Grove. We will invest a lot into new teachers, which are easy to get thanks to UCD, but that investment will leave for greener pastures. I know it is already happening. THe district hired 85 new teachers this year. We had about 35 retirees, plus like 20 hired for class size reduction. Sor where did the other 30 come from? Primarily from people leaving. I know many of them. If the community doesn’t care about it, then the community will have to live with the consequences.

        1. MrsW

          “If the community doesn’t care about it, then the community will have to live with the consequences.”

          I think the community cares very much about teacher retention.

          I have a few observations. To me, it looks like there is a trend in education to hire temporary workers, ie. Adjunct Faculty at the University and public school teachers under annual contracts. Am I correct? If so, as a practical matter, any real estate benefit we’re talking about would be designated for the tenured teachers only, who are a dwindling population due to a socioeconomic trend.

          Workers are retained for a number of reasons and a good job is a good reason to commute. “A good job” for many people is a place that brings out your best. It includes feeling respected, feeling welcome, making a difference in others’ lives, being able to practice your craft at the top of your game, and having stimulating colleagues.

          When the 85 new teachers arrive, they will likely have low expectations with respect to gaining tenure. Will they arrive to a place that they’d want to work the rest of their careers for all of those other reasons?

          I guess I’m just not convinced that there aren’t other bigger hurdles, other than housing costs, that contribute more to DJUSD’s teacher retention or lack thereof.

          1. Cat

            I’d just like to add that being permanent has very little impact on whether or not teachers can afford to buy here, especially considering “affordable” housing is 300,000. I still live in my student rental, and even if I wanted a bigger place, with a small yard, I couldn’t afford to RENT a duplex in Davis. The fact is that other districts have more competitive wages and better benefits—- the feeling I get is that the Davis community doesn’t think teachers need higher wages because A. they’re married and their spouse has a higher paying job. and B. working here is so great that it makes up for not paying as much. You are absolutely right that there are other hurdles-but as someone from the other side of that, the housing situation rankles.

          2. South of Davis

            Cat wrote:

            > I’d just like to add that being permanent has very little
            > impact on whether or not teachers can afford to buy here,
            > especially considering “affordable” housing is 300,000

            First you need to remember that “single” young (under 40) people almost never buy homes in nice parts of CA any more. Even if you are a young single doctor, lawyer, or CPA (working twice as many hours and making much more than an average teacher) you probably (without rich parents, lottery winnings or insider stock tips) can’t afford to buy a house in a nice area like Davis.

            I know many married working people in Davis that have enough money to “buy” a house but are not doing it due to the lack of permanence of one or both jobs the private sector AND the public sector (UC Davis is the worst since many younger employees don’t know if they will have a job next year). Smart people know that in 20 years Davis homes will probably be worth more, but in two years may be worth a lot less and will wipe out a life savings if you lose a job and “have” to sell.

          3. MrsW

            “… being permanent has very little impact on whether or not teachers can afford to buy here…”

            I meant that being permanent would likely be necessary for some kind real estate subsidy to be implemented.

            “…the feeling I get is that the Davis community doesn’t think teachers need higher wages…”

            Everyone I know shows that they value teachers, schools and education by voting for parcel taxes, volunteering, and contributing to fundraisers. That is the community talking. How this is translated into less competitive wages and poorer benefits I do not undertand. I can imagine that if there were trade-offs, that I would not agree with all of them. I hope those are disclosed to employees when they are hired.

            “…the housing situation rankles…”

            It really does. And our students loose, if there is a teacher who wants to live in our community and who doesn’t mind being seen and interrupted in the grocery store for a hug.

  11. hpierce

    Another important distinction is between being able to LIVE in Davis (which could include a single family unit near parks, having front and back yards, but a RENTAL), and OWNING in Davis. SF rents have been pretty static for some time now, and are less prone to the turnover found in typical student rentals.

    Another possibility is manufactured housing. Rancho Yolo is a pretty nice place. People there can own the unit, even tho’ they are renting the land it is on. They can build equity in the unit. Seems like talk of manufactured housing (not you father’s mobile home park) is anathema in Davis, tho’. Yet, it is an affordable form of housing that permits some of the benefits (including deductability of mortgages, and building of equity) of home ownership.

  12. DavisVoter

    “Those are factors, motivations, perhaps.”

    Yes, indeed. “Perhaps” they are. Perhaps. I wouldn’t want to trouble you to have an informed opinion on what leads to academic excellence …

    1. DavisVoter

      I’m content to let the exchange speak for itself at this point. People may find it telling.

      Unfortunately I messed up the placement of my post, so people will have to scroll up to see the discussion of why Palo Alto might have better outcomes than some other districts, according to some posters on this site.

      The only question in my mind is just how closely your views (and/or lack thereof) on academic excellence and its determinants map to those of the District bureaucracy. I’m sure you’ll say you have no idea, so that will just have to remain a mystery.

      1. wdf1

        The only question in my mind is just how closely your views (and/or lack thereof) on academic excellence and its determinants map to those of the District bureaucracy.

        Academic excellence means different things to different parents, and sometimes the same parent may have different expectations of academic excellence for different kids in their family.
        The district has to be prepared to accommodate those range of expectations.

        1. DavisVoter

          Although it’s true (as well as blindingly obvious) that in the abstract academic excellence can mean different things to different people, it’s quite clear what this particular conversation was about. The discussion at issue was about two specific measures put forth by SoD:

          “It is interesting to note that some of the Northern California School Districts with the HIGHEST number of non-resident teachers (Hillsborough, Palo Alto, Portola Valley & Woodside) also have some of the HIGHEST test scores and HIGHEST percentage of kids going to college?”

          You then offered explanations for this phenomenon without indicating that you were using any different or broader definition of academic excellence. Are test scores and college attendance an incomplete set of measures? Of course. But they are the measures under discussion in this context. And they are measures that are important to many, many people.

          1. wdf1

            I think standardized test scores are over-rated, and I mean that across the board — STAR, SAT, GRE, OLSAT, IQ tests. And I say that as one who could score well on such tests in my day. I think traits that helped me to succeed in life were not measured on those tests. They might be fine for some diagnostic assessments, but that’s it.

            Within DJUSD, I think different staff members have varying views on it. The district is obligated to keep a certain level of test score going to keep the state and federal government off their backs, but I sense a certain amount of eye-rolling from some administrators about the whole process.

            High rates of college matriculation are good. I would include military service, trade school, and any other equivalent post high school experience. A lot of that involves a good, strong counselling staff, as well as diverse, rigorous curricula.

          2. Don Shor

            I think the tests probably were a good measure of how likely I was to succeed at the next level of education. I don’t really know of a test that would measure how will I would succeed at my post-education life.

            I think there is a high level of correlation of the rates of college entrance with parental income, district affluence, and parental involvement. But I don’t know how you translate that into policies that lead to better outcomes in lower-income districts.

            I would include military service, trade school, and any other equivalent post high school experience.

            I strongly agree with this, and a common complaint I hear about DJUSD is that it is strongly college-focused (which was also true of the school district I attended). Other options — particularly vocational — should not just be there, but be presented regularly and with equal emphasis. Keep the ag/hort programs, keep the auto shops, allow the recruiters on campus on a regular basis. Those are all valid and valuable options for kids who don’t happen to be on a college track.

  13. DavisVoter

    wdf1 – Actually, just to clear up some other matters:

    1. Is it or is it not the case that interdistrict transfers can bump Davis resident students from oversubscribed elementary programs? Don Shor says the answer was “no” in the past. What is it now?

    2. When interdistrict transfer slots are limited, do teachers’ kids get priority, or is it first-come, first-served? You and Don Shor seem to disagree about this.

    1. wdf1

      DavisVoter: 1. Is it or is it not the case that interdistrict transfers can bump Davis resident students from oversubscribed elementary programs? Don Shor says the answer was “no” in the past. What is it now?

      I understand that an interdistrict transfer cannot bump a Davis resident student from a school/program that is full, or oversubscribed, as you say.

      If a Davis resident moves to town and enrolls too late in the process, then that child may not be able to go to the neighborhood school for the upcoming year, and may instead have to enroll at another elementary school where there is more space. But the following year, if the parent gets the appropriate forms for “intent to enroll” to their neighborhood school, then the child is guaranteed a position at the neighborhood school.

      2. When interdistrict transfer slots are limited, do teachers’ kids get priority, or is it first-come, first-served? You and Don Shor seem to disagree about this.

      I don’t know. But you can call, e-mail the district and ask what the current policy is.

      1. DavisVoter

        I’m sure I can, but then again I didn’t inject the issue of interdistrict transfers as a remedy for teachers into this conversation. If teachers have to get in line with everyone else, it may not be much of a remedy, depending on the overall pictures.

  14. South of Davis

    DavisVoter wrote:

    > When interdistrict transfer slots are limited, do teachers’ kids get priority,

    The “official” answer is often different than the “real” answer…

    Just like the children of UC professors don’t “officially” get priority the “real” answer is a little different…

    1. wdf1

      I think it’s likely that teacher-parents can get internal reminders of deadlines, and they can carry their forms directly to work to turn them in. All added conveniences.

      1. DavisVoter

        So anyone can try for an interdistrict transfer, and teachers don’t have an official preference, but they have an unofficial advantage in that they get extra reminders to turn in their paperwork (and indeed, information about how to do the paperwork may not even be readily available to the general public).

        This is actually a great conversation for people interested in how bureaucrats get the results they want while following the letter of the law. Some political science person should extensively FOIA this and use it as a case study.

        OTOH, if you just live here, it’s great information about how much weight to attach to those ponderous District documents …

  15. wdf1

    How a Bigger Purpose Can Motivate Students to Learn

    A few years ago, psychologist David Yeager and his colleagues noticed something interesting while interviewing high school students in the San Francisco Bay Area about their hopes, dreams and life goals.

    It was no surprise that students often said that making money, attaining fame or pursuing a career that they enjoyed were important to them. But many of them also spoke of additionally wanting to make a positive impact on their community or society — such as by becoming a doctor to take care of people, or a pastor who “makes a difference.” What’s more, the teens with these “pro-social” types of goals tended to rate their schoolwork as more personally meaningful.

    1. Frankly

      The main point here is that this is a recent epiphany to relate to the education system. I have to say DUH.

      I cannot find the reference at this point but there was a recent story of a large corporation that developed a program to hire high school dropouts and pay them to work in the company for 4 hours per day, and then attend the company alternative high school for 4 hours per day until they got their diploma. The success rates were off the charts… in the 90%. With something like 60% of the students accepting full-time jobs with the company after graduation.

      So, why not this as a permanent nation-wide high school alternative?

      Talk to the teachers unions for an answer to that question.

      1. wdf1

        You’re stuck in seeing everything in some teachers union dystopia, and are thus limited to seeing other angles.

        The big picture reason behind teacher aversion to using standardized test scores is not because somehow it reveals some truth that American education is in the toilet (an assertion that I don’t agree with) and thus makes teachers look bad. It is that the standardized test culture separates both teachers and students from a sense of bigger purpose in their lives. Most students don’t want to grow up to become standardized test takers. And I think most teachers would like to see a bigger purpose to their careers than having X% of their students as proficient or above on a standardized test.

        I don’t find anywhere in my research that teachers came up with the concept of standardized testing accountability as it currently exists, or NCLB, or even developing Common Core to begin with. It is an imposed management by numbers model that doesn’t fit reality.

        story of a large corporation that developed a program to hire high school dropouts and pay them to work in the company for 4 hours per day, and then attend the company alternative high school for 4 hours per day until they got their diploma.

        A voc-tech type program. Not necessarily a new concept, and such programs report similar positive impacts.. It would be interesting to have full-time jobs counselor made available at every high school (but especially in lower income communities) to match students with summer jobs, and maybe assist with voc-tech internships during the school year. But it depends on finding enough business willing to hire.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for