Monday Morning Thoughts: The School Board Race, Nancy Peterson and Jose Granda

Nancy Peterson resigned back in March
Nancy Peterson resigned back in March

A week from tomorrow (Tuesday) the voters will get their official say in who the next three school board members are, joining Susan Lovenburg and the appointed Alan Fernandes. The view has not changed very much since the last analysis.

It is hard to imagine a scenario where the next school board does not have both Barbara Archer and Madhavi Sunder. In the last few weeks, everyone I have spoken to agrees those two will finish first and second in some order.

It remains a battle for third and, right now, I would say it is a toss-up between Bob Poppenga and Tom Adams. Bob Poppenga raised another $4100 from October 1 to October 18, bringing his campaign total up to nearly $16,500, but a lot of that was from himself – he has put about $10,720 into his own campaign.

Tom Adams brought in another $4890, to bring his total to $10,329. He has a cash on hand advantage, with $5140 on hand while Mr. Poppenga only has $900.

None of the other candidates have raised serious money. Chuck Rairdan has raised $3420, while Mike Nolan has raised $1390. Jose Granda has not filed a form 460. I did receive a robocall from his campaign, however.

Bottom line, we don’t see much change from the last analysis. The race is for third, by all indications, and we see it as neck-and-neck.

Nancy Peterson

Our series of five questions wrapped up with the Nancy Peterson issue. Were there other questions to ask in this campaign? Absolutely. But we were looking at critical questions that have not always gotten that much play.

At the same time, Nancy Peterson is the 800-pound gorilla – everyone can see its presence. At our candidate’s forum in September, the candidates saw the clear need to regain the trust, but we wanted to push them a step further and identify the lessons we should take away from the fiasco that led to the downfall of a school board member and possibly the downfall of a city council candidate.

Bob Poppenga hit the nail on the head in terms of the take home lessons from the Peterson controversy: “1) smart people don’t always know right from wrong or act ethically, 2) clear code-of-ethics and conflict-of-interest statements need to be prominently displayed on the District website and regularly reviewed by the Board, 3) policies and procedures for handling complaints against District personnel need to be in place, publicly accessible, followed, and regularly reviewed for effectiveness, and 4) people need to speak up, privately at first and publicly if necessary, as soon as possible when individuals violate established code of ethics, conflicts of interest, or District policies and procedures.”

I think it is easy to focus on conflict policies and it is important to look at the complaint process, but for me this controversy was created with the fourth item – the lack of people willing to speak up.

In the middle of the controversy, suddenly people were talking about the long-brewing rift between Nancy Peterson and Leigh Choate and Julie Crawford. I was told that Ms. Peterson was warned to stay away from volleyball and I was alerted that there had been warnings and red flags in prominent people’s dealing with Ms. Peterson, but none of this came to light during the campaign in 2012.

Worse yet, however, was the handling of the emerging scandal by the school board. You can have a great conflict of interest policy, but unless someone steps up to call out their colleague, it’s worthless.

In fairness, the school board had no inkling of the issue when Nancy Peterson in February 2013 first pulled the VSA (variable service agreement) of Julie Crawford from the consent calendar.

It was only in July and August that the problem became clear. There was a clear failure by the school board, and in particular School Board President Sheila Allen, who failed to gavel Nancy Peterson down when she publicly denigrated a school employee in open session.

It was that incident that triggered a chain of reactions that ultimately resulted in the resignation of Nancy Peterson half a year later in March.

The school board members were slow to understand the fact that this was a personal conflict and slower to react to clear breaches in etiquette. To me, that’s the real failure here and the one lesson that we need to learn, or all of the other changes will be useless.

Jose Granda

With seven candidates, it has generally been a bit difficult to get all of the responses in by the deadline. Several of the candidates have turned in responses late for a variety of reasons. We had two choices – not to publish them, as a newspaper would have done, or make public all of the responses.

We decided on the latter, basically because we hope to provide the public with as much information about their choices as possible.

Jose Granda turned in his response late and published extensive commentary that criticizes two of his opponents – Madhavi Sunder and Barbara Archer. He writes, “Everyone seems to think Madhavi Sunder or Barbara Archer can do no wrong. That needs to be explored with a magnifying glass.”

He notes, for instance, that Madhavi Sunder stated, “While Davis is a wonderful community and I feel lucky to raise my children here, we are hardly immune from issues of racism and homophobia. We live in a country and a world where racism and homophobia sadly persist.”

Mr. Granda writes, “I also am against any discrimination against these groups. However, Madhavi uses the word ‘homophobia.’ ” He writes, “The problem here is that she fails to see that calling anyone a homophobic is equally discriminatory against those children who hold religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong.”

First of all, Ms. Sunder didn’t call anyone homophobic, she simply stated that “we are hardly immune from issues of racism and homophobia.”

Second, is it “equally discriminatory” to call people who are prejudiced against gays and lesbians “homophobic”?

Mr. Granda then goes on to attack Barbara Archer, stating she “also has a conflict of interest regarding the parcel taxes. She has co-chaired the campaign in favor of Measure C and she has every right to do so because that is what she believes. However at the same time she has been a member of the Parcel Tax Oversight Committee for measures C, E and A that evaluates the use of those funds. The evaluation has to be done by someone impartial, independent, not by those who campaigned to pass the measures; otherwise there is no credibility in such evaluation. If she is elected, would she still continue in that position?   She has been silent on this issue.”

First, there is no conflict of interest between serving on the Parcel Tax Oversight Committee, which makes sure that the parcel tax money is spent as the district disclosed to the public during the campaign, and co-chairing the parcel tax campaign.

She has no financial interest in the position and, in fact, one could argue that, as a proponent of the parcel tax, she has a vested interest to make sure that the district spends the money as they claimed they would. We agree that the district would be best served by having a variety of people and viewpoints on the oversight committee, but that does not mean that Ms. Archer has any sort of conflict of interest.

Second, the issue of whether she would serve on the oversight committee after election has never come up, so it is not exactly a matter that she has been silent on. But why do we believe she would serve on it, if no other school board members do?

UPDATE: Barbara Archer told the Vanguard this morning that she served a two-year term on the parcel tax oversight committee.  She was asked to serve again this year when the first term ended, however, she said, “I said no because I was running.”

We have often criticized Jose Granda for his lack of fiscal understanding. But he has consistently accused the school district of fiscal mismanagement and has written, “I have excellent qualifications in education and fiscal responsibility.”

He wrote, “The School Board has not been fiscally responsible to the taxpayers. It has wasted money and run the budget into a deficit. It cannot manage the 76 million dollar budget of the district. That needs to change.”

But is Mr. Granda the candidate to do that? While he accuses the school district of fiscal mismanagement, the Vanguard has learned that he owes more than $3200 in back taxes on two properties that are owned in his name in Davis.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

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

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91 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    I wonder what responses we would have gotten from any of the candidates had we asked the question: What potential conflicts of interest do you feel that you might personally encounter if elected to the school board ?

    It is far easier to identify the problems of others than to demonstrate foresight with regard to our own potential problems. I am very wary of the individual who points fingers at others without admitting to their own vulnerabilities.

    1. ryankelly

      It didn’t matter that the question was asked – they all answered that they had no potential conflicts (or a vague answer indicating that they didn’t).   It would have been better if they had been pressed a bit more on this.

  2. Michelle Millet

    Madhavi Sunder and Bob Poppenga, are both excellent candidates. They will bring new voices and fresh  perspectives to the school board. (This is my personal endorsement:-).

    1. ryankelly

      Barbara Archer, Tom Adams and Mike Nolan are all excellent candidates.   They will bring fresh perspectives and practical solutions to the school board.  (This is my personal endorsement.)

      1. Davis Progressive

        i’ve been completely unimpressed with nolan and adams.  nolan doesn’t say anything and i’ve heard the other candidates complain both about his lack of work and lack of engagement.  adams seems to be trying to ride the coattails of archer.  again, not impressed with what i’ve seen.

        1. nkristis

          Poppenga has been providing thoughtful, intelligent, and fresh ideas for the challenges facing our school system via his Vanguard articles, blog posts, and speaking engagements. I haven’t seen Tom Adams provide anything of substance.

  3. hpierce

    David:  your point clarifying FINANCIAL conflict of interest (which generally has to benefit you personally in order to be a flagrant foul) and an interest in making sure a program/assessment you supported, is carried out as intended (not a “foul”, generally), is well taken.  Here’s hoping you use similar metrics in the future, as you have not always done so in the past.

  4. wdf1

    Granda’s last Vanguard response marks the first time (or at the very least, the most blatant example) of a school board candidate going on the attack against other candidates.  It appears that he did this without very careful consideration about what he was accusing others of doing, and as a result he raised potentially negative issues about himself.  Sort of like throwing stones in a glass house, as the metaphor goes.

    1. hpierce

      Perhaps, after being pummeled by rocks cast by ‘operatives’ for the other candidates, his rock garden was full, and he needed to return fire.  All “negative” campaigning/attacks are, in my opinion, inappropriate in ALL elections, particularly local (supposedly) non-partisan ones.

      I’m sure your ‘house’ and those of many of Mr Granda’s opponents are Kevlar and/or Teflon.  Am sure they have more rocks to throw, although I don’t know why at this point.  Something about a snowball’s chance.

      But the arrogance of some of the front-runners’ pious supporters inclines me to vote for any of the ‘annointed’, lest they perceive a mandate is theirs where they may display arrogance in performing on the Board.  Did a recently-resigned Trustee believe she had a mandate from the people, and could that have contributed to a scandal?

       

  5. David Greenwald

    UPDATE: Barbara Archer told the Vanguard this morning that she served a two-year term on the parcel tax oversight committee.  She was asked to serve again this year when the first term ended, however, she said, “I said no because I was running.”

  6. Matt Williams

    “First of all, Ms. Sunder didn’t call anyone homophobic, she simply stated that “we are hardly immune from issues of racism and homophobia.”

    David, you are dancing on the head of a pin.  If a person states that we are hardly immune from issues of homophobia, then for that statement to be true they are also stating that there are homophobic people in our community.  That is a simple tautology.  I suspect that neither you nor I nor Madhavi Sunder nor Dr. Granda would disagree with the accuracy of that tautology.

    In my opinion what Dr. Granda appears to be questioning is 1) the wisdom of ignoring the freedom of religion provisions of the US Constitution, and 2) a public labeling of personal/private religious beliefs with the label “irrational and unreasoning fear.”  Madhavi could have chosen a different word to make her point, given that the accepted definition of homophobia is unreasoning/irrational fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality.

    I’m not sure that Dr. Granda’s choice of words was ideal either, and as such this dialogue about she said / he said will continue.

     

    1. David Greenwald

      I think if I were to hone in on the point it would lie in the difference between prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice being the belief while discrimination would be the acting on that belief.

      1. Matt Williams

        So what I hear you saying David is that acting on your beliefs and kneeling down at the edge of your bed in your home and saying your prayers about your beliefs is an act of discrimination. Is that really your belief?

      2. Frankly

        But aren’t we told by social justice crusaders that implicit bias is actionable?

        The term “homophobia” is actually quite silly and lacks any rational meaning in a current context.  The use of the term says a lot about the user.

        1. Davis Progressive

          no implicit bias is not actionable.  also i don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here.

          i tend to agree that homophobia is misnomered at this point in time.  at one point, i think there was a solid basis that people feared gays, now it’s just bigotry.  i don’t buy the religious excuse, you can believe that homosexuality is a sin without hating the sinner.

          1. Matt Williams

            i don’t buy the religious excuse, you can believe that homosexuality is a sin without hating the sinner.

            Well said DP, which is why the expression of the personal beliefs in private are very different from expressing them in public. Taking it to the public level injects into the discussion the potential of hate.

        2. hpierce

          Many of us wouldn’t even think of TREATING any group, particularly those of the LGBT community differently than ‘heteros’.

          Nor would we feel a need to CELEBRATE lifestyles different from our own.

          Yet there are those, based on their public record, would want my children to go beyond not being a bully, go beyond being tolerant, but to positively affirm that a lifestyle outside their spiritual orientation is worthy of their celebration.  To me, that’s ‘over the top’ and unacceptable.  I don’t see those who want to celebrate any sort of diversity wanting to celebrate the mainstream values.

          But then again, I don’t want to “celebrate” intimate sexual activity of ANY kind while kids are too young to appreciate the caring, obligations and commitment that I believe should be involved before engaging in sexual acts.  Yeah, I’m a dinosaur.  But I will not change.

           

  7. ryankelly

    But is Mr. Granda the candidate to do that? While he accuses the school district of fiscal mismanagement, the Vanguard has learned that he owes more than $3200 in back taxes on two properties that are owned in his name in Davis.

    Just a comment – when I previously posted that someone involved in leading a political campaign against the water rates, was criticizing the City Council for mismanagement of financial issues, involved in suing the City, and publicly endorsed an additional school tax as a politician had owed 7 years of back property taxes on a rental house in Davis (over $70K) , I was directed to not bring up personal financial difficulties and the posts were removed.  What is the difference here?

    1. South of Davis

      Ryan wrote:

      > I was directed to not bring up personal financial difficulties

      > and the posts were removed.  What is the difference here?

      For most people in Davis Prejudice is the the belief that anyone left of center is bad and discrimination is acting on that belief.

      As former Vanguard poster Jeff has noted most people in Davis think that not hiring someone because he is black or wants higher taxed bad, but not hiring someone because he christian or is opposed to more taxes good…

      Free Speech = Saying negative things about right of center people

      Hate Crime = Saying negative things about left of center people

      1. Davis Progressive

        “As former Vanguard poster Jeff has noted most people in Davis think that not hiring someone because he is black or wants higher taxed bad, but not hiring someone because he christian or is opposed to more taxes good…”

        my experience in davis is that most people are proud to have voted for a black man but don’t want one moving in next to them.

        1. Don Shor

          my experience in davis is that most people are proud to have voted for a black man but don’t want one moving in next to them.

          That statement is ridiculous. I don’t even believe it is “your experience.”

        2. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          > That statement is ridiculous. I don’t even believe it is “your experience.”

          It sure is my experience (you wouldn’t believe what Davis parents with Obama stickers on their Prius’ say about minority kids in the Davis public schools).  You can also add in “classest” since it is rare that I am at any party or social event in Davis where a single adult (other than myself) does not have an advanced degree.

          My experience is that most (but not all) well educated liberals (aka the typical Lexus/Prius liberal) are not as racist as less educated conservatives (aka Joe Six Pack), but more racist than well educated conservatives (aka Ron Paul voters)…

          1. Don Shor

            Two anonymous posters giving us unverifiable comments about their impressions of what “most” Davis residents/parents/liberals believe/think/say is completely meaningless. So your and DP’s premise — that “most” Davis somethings are basically hypocrites on race — is also meaningless.

            Maybe the two of you could quit generalizing about “most” people this, that, or the other.

        3. Davis Progressive

          don: i understand that i’m anonymous, so let me point you to someone who is not.  why don’t you ask mel lewis of the school district his experience of being a black man (african rather than african american) in davis.  or why don’t you talk to some of the teachers and principals of color and ask them their experience.  i think you’ll be shocked.

        4. Davis Progressive

          that said, i agree with don that it’s probably not most people, but there is a large enough person that a lot of people of color end up leaving this community.

        5. Barack Palin

          DP, when Obama was elected in 2008 I’ll never forget the conversation I heard while walking from the polling booth to my truck parked in the Wildhorse Golf Course parking lot.  Two grayish haired white ladies were chatting how they voted for Obama but had almost voted for Alan Keyes, the black very conservative Republican candidate.  So that told me they just wanted to vote for a black candidate, not necessarily what they thought was the best candidate, regardless of beliefs or party.

      2. ryankelly

        I don’t think that is it, South of Davis.  There seems to be a difference in opinion on when not paying property taxes is OK to bring up by David and when it is considered a personal attack by a commenter and removed.   Just asking for consistency.

    2. Davis Progressive

      it seems like one is an issue campaign in which the person was involved and one is a candidate running for office.  seems to be a huge difference.

  8. Mr. Toad

    The problem here is much bigger than offending someone’s beliefs. The problem here is keeping kids safe and alive. Gay kids are regularly the victims of bullying and harassment by other kids. This interferes with their ability to successfully function in the school environment. They also often commit suicide. These are real problems that I have had to deal with both in and out of the classroom over the years. They are also problems that have plagued DJUSD. Making sure that all the children of the community are safe and alive so they can learn is the number one responsibility of a school trustee.

    If a trustee can find a way to teach all the kids that accepting individual differences and personal choices must be respected nobody should have a problem with that. Nobody is saying that somebody must violate their beliefs. What they must be taught is that you don’t have the right to interfere with somebody else’s right to be safe in school because you view them as different. Arguing that holding a religious view that is intolerant is an excuse for such behavior is abhorrent. Defending that position is no better.

    1. Matt Williams

      I strongly agree with what you have said Toad.

      With that said, as best as I can see <u>none</u> of the candidates have argued that a <u>public</u> pronouncement of specific religious beliefs is either desirable or acceptable.

      1. Mr. Toad

        Granda is trying to play it both ways saying he doesn’t support harassment of gays while arguing Sunder is going to undermine the rights of freedom of religion by those who mask their hateful views  in the rhetoric of religious freedom.   He is defending the right to hate gays and lesbians for religious reasons and argues that challenging through the educational process such hate is a violation of religious liberty. This is of course total nonsense. Students are currently protected from harassment because of their sexual orientation at school under state law. Playing the same game as Granda and Williams suggests that notifying students of their obligations to follow this law would be the basis for some first amendment religious violation claim. Of course Granda’s legal reasoning is suspect as we saw when his last action against the city was summarily dismissed. That Williams persists in defending Granda leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. People are entitled to their religious beliefs and a person’s faith should be strong enough to withstand opposing views. What people are not allowed to do is claim exemption from the prohibition on violating the rights of others because of their religious beliefs.

        1. hpierce

          Truth be told, it does NOT appear Mr Granda is claiming a right to HATE.  He may well be claiming a right to NOT CELEBRATE, and/or a right to have his children free from the inculcation that all moral views are wrong (or relative) and having his children needing to profess the “everything is OK” “religion” in order to get good grades in school (essay assignments, etc.).

          I see Mr Toad’s comments here as being as jingoistic and intolerant as he accuses Mr Granda of being.  To wit, we should ostracize and/or hate Mr Granda for HIS convictions/lifestyle.  Mr Toad should utilize the same mirror s to whether someone wants it both ways.

        2. Matt Williams

          Toad, where in anything that Granda said is there any advocacy for or support violating the rights of gays. You are working overtime to redefine what both Madahvi Sunder and Jose Granda respectively said.

          Further you unilaterally define religious belief as hate. That is a bridge too far. As Davis Progressive said in a prior post, “you can believe that homosexuality is a sin without hating the sinner.”

  9. Mr. Toad

    T. complained that a boy was calling him gay. It didn’t bother him too much because he was used to it. He tried to try out for cheer leader but they didn’t let him. He took up baton twirling instead and won the state championship. I saw him a few years later and he was doing alright.

    S. was small but straight. He got called gay and bullied by the bigger boys. When he was 17 a boy tried to bully him again. He had had enough. He destroyed the bully. “I’ve had more sex than you,” he said. He went on “Have you ever even been with a woman?” By the time it was over I was feeling sorry for the perp. S dropped out of school the day after he turned 18. He told me he was “tired of taking shit from people.”

    F. was a straight A student. He committed suicide when he was a senior.

     

    You want to have some intellectual argument about religious rights or spew some political spectrum rhetoric as if its all a joke but most of you know nothing about what goes on with these kids in school. Granda’s gratuitous attacks pandering for conservative votes may gain him some traction with certain groups but his insensitivity towards these kids show a woeful misunderstanding of the role of the adults in our schools, first and foremost that they be kept safe and secure as they grow and learn.

    1. Matt Williams

      Toad, you have outlined specific examples where the issue is bullying.  Bullies come in all shapes and sizes and ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs.  The problem with bullies is their actions not their beliefs.

      1. Mr. Toad

        That is correct Matt. So what is wrong with teaching students that acting on such beliefs will get them in trouble. You and Granda are reaching down to such a fine line to make your case that its laughable. I argued with students about evolution for years and never once did someone complain that I was violating anyone’s religious beliefs. The premise of your argument is so absurd that its ridiculous, that someone is going to be offended for teaching that you can’t pick on gay kids for some religious reason. Give it a rest Matt its stupid.

        1. Mr. Toad

          Actually Matt, F was not bullied. He still needed help with his issues and the behavior of others may have made it harder for him to deal with his own feelings. Nobody saw it coming, he was so bright, we all had great expectations for his future. I only realized it in retrospect. Maybe if we had taught him that it was okay to feel the way he did. Maybe if we taught the other kids to be more sensitive to the kids that are different F might be alive today. You and Granda can have your intellectual arguments about religion and rights. I’m going to mourn the suicide of F once again.

        2. hpierce

          So, students should feel guilty about F, because he was (actively?) guy in school, and the peers didn’t affirm and celebrate him?  Just can’t get there.

        3. Matt Williams

          Toad, you too are dancing on the head of a pin. No one said you couldn’t teach that you can’t bully. There are no situations where bullying is acceptable. There is no reason to single out some victims of bullying for special recognition and leaving other victims of bullying in the shadows. You are arguing for the practicing of a double standard.

        4. Mr. Toad

          No F was in the closet. It shows you don’t understand what its like for these kids that you are willing to express your indifference to the death of a 17 year old in this manner. F was a beautiful young man struggling for acceptance. He lost the battle within himself. Please …

          I’m not dancing Matt there is so little nuance here you are the one who is perpetuating the pot shots by refusing to let this stupid argument die. Let it go Matt you and Granda want to make a defense of homophobia mountain out of a protect all the kids molehill. What ought to be a no brainer is being trumped up into a constitutional crisis. One that only is getting trumped up for electoral purposes in a sleazy attack suggesting that Sunder is going to impose some offensive curriculum from above that will be an insult to god fearing homophobes everywhere and they should be rightly outraged and vote for Granda who will protect their right to teach their children to hate other children. Please…

          1. Matt Williams

            Toad, go back and read Madahvi Sunder’s words. “As School Board Trustee, I will work to my utmost to ensure that all our children feel valued and respected.” Her focus is on self esteem … feeling valued and respected.

            When it comes to safety she sounds a note of caution, “In our effort to combat bullying, however, we must recognize that bias can affect who is targeted for discipline and who is seen as the victim.” She doesn’t paint with the universal unilateral approach you are arguing for.

            She goes on to say that “Author Sandy Holman recently spoke to the children about respect for diverse heritage, and left the children reciting: “I will try my best to show respect, to use my talents, to really listen, to not stereotype, to show compassion and to try my best to have a good life.” You need to heed Sunder and Holman’s advice (and Davis progressive’s too). You are stereotyping as a “hater” everyone whose religious tenets believe that homosexuality is a sin. Show some compassion for those who quietly and privately believe what the scriptures of their religion say.

            In closing the Judeo-Christian scriptures that underlie my personal upbringing as an Episcopalian, as well as everyone raised as a Jew or a Christian, clearly single out homosexuality as a sin. In my life I have personally chosen to first view those scripture passages with skepticism and then later reject them outright. However, that is my personal choice … and I don’t impose that choice on others. I personally follow a path like what Sunder argues for in her article, recognizing that “conversations are crucial for helping children and adults understand others’ experiences of discrimination, and for fostering empathy and understanding. Students must know that they can talk to counselors, teachers, principals, and peers about issues of racism and homophobia.” But I don’t force those conversations on others, I invite them to participate.

        5. Mr. Toad

          Well good for you Matt. In the meantime kids are getting hurt. People can believe anything they want they just don’t have the right to impose those beliefs on others through their conduct. The law specifically protects LGBT children in school. Teaching children that  homophobic harassment  is not okay is much better than punishing them for engaging in it without trying to lay out the rules before hand. Your argument isn’t with Sunder its with the Governor and the legislature that passed the law as duly elected representatives of the people of California. Attacking Sunder for trying to teach the kids of the community tolerance is tilting at windmills.

          1. Matt Williams

            Teaching children that any and all forms of harassment are not okay is much better than punishing them for engaging in it without trying to lay out the rules before hand.

            By singling out homophobic harassment for special treatment over and above other forms of harassment you are establishing a double standard. Why do you want such a double standard? Why can’t the harassment classes be universal and all inclusive? Why the specific focus?

        6. Mr. Toad

          This is where you are mistaking emphasis for exception. These kids are particularly vulnerable and have a harder time dealing with both their internal feelings and their external interactions. She never says we should ignore or condone other kinds of harassment. She creates no double standard she is simply pointing out that these kids are especially vulnerable. You and Granda and H.Pierce are trying to make it into something more than what it is. In doing so you want to argue that she will slay intolerant homophobes and send their kids out for Chinese style re-education in contravention of the first amendment right to religious freedom. As another Trustee once said “You need to calm down.”

          1. Matt Williams

            Neither I nor Dr. Granda said that Sunder said we should ignore or condone other kinds of harassment. YOU said that! Sunder creates no double standard. YOU create that double standard! I have no desire to argue that Sunder will slay intolerant homophobes. YOU are the one introducing that argument. I’m totally calm. YOU are the one who is making this into a political campaign diatribe. I’m apolitical on this subject. My intellectual/constitutional engagement with the point Dr. Granda made, has not changed the fact that I will be voting for Sunder and Archer, and not voting for Granda. Those were my votes before his article and they remain my votes.

        7. hpierce

          Mr Toad… I have devoted more than 500 hours hours on a Suicide Prevention service hot-lines.  High call volume (Bay Area) and 15% (due to my shift, late at night to early AM) that were medium/high lethality.  I am so thin-skinned, that I bled too much over these issues, and eventually burned-out and no longer feel like I could volunteer.  But I also understand that it wasn’t my fault, or anyone else’s (with maybe one or two exceptions as to “others”) when someone decided to end their pain in a self-destructive way.

          You have NO right to lay what appears to be your guilt trip on Matt, Mr Granda, or me.  I have been “in the trenches” big time.  Who the HELL are you to judge me?  BTW, I was motivated to provide a caring, non-judgmental help to those in pain.  What is your motivation to disparge others?

           

  10. Gunrocik

    Don wrote:
    > That statement is ridiculous. I don’t even believe it is “your experience.”
    I strongly disagree with Don.
    This town reminds me far more of a typical midwest or southern community when it comes to race relations.  The multcultural communities that surround us are far more ethnically and racially tolerant.
    In fact, I think there is some self-selection that goes on  — and there are people who choose Davis over our surrounding communities because it is less diverse.  In addition, we have a disproportionate percentage of older residents — who were raised in a time when segregation and negative racial stereotypes were more prevalent.
    The very unfortunate”mowing while black” incident is a perfect example of the racial bias in this community.  Lost in the discussion about this issue is what prompted the police call in the first place.  Several African-american men were soliciting door-to-door in the neighborhood and several residents (not used to seeing african-american males in their neighborhood) called the police and assumed that these men were burglars.
    I’m sure if you had an offline discussion with any member of our police force, they could educate you about the lack of color blindness in our “progressive” community.

    1. wdf1

      Gunrocik: This town reminds me far more of a typical midwest or southern community when it comes to race relations. 

      I grew up in a suburb in the south.  I came to Davis, in part, because people here generally tended to show more respect and acceptance (racially, culturally, and for gay people) than where I grew up.  I can see where Davis could be better, but I know it could definitely be worse.  I don’t know about the midwest, but I know something about the South.  That’s just one person’s experience.

  11. Mr. Toad

    But this blog is like something you would find in Rand Paul Land. A place where 20 racist remarks are okay but then people get called out by the moderator for challenging that racism. A place where homophobia is protected and unions are bashed on a regular basis, where its okay to argue that young women be sterilized. Gunrocik is correct Davis overlooks its racist proclivities and this blog provides shelter, voice and anonymity to that hate.

      1. Matt Williams

        Part of the problem DP is that Toad is looking at life through the lens of a political campaign.  He sees Dr. Granda as a threat to the election of his desired (and supported) candidate.  Therefore he is calling out Dr. Granda with the desire of doing him political harm, rather than engaging, as Tia Will has done in her comments about curriculum content, the substance contained in his comments … and the conundrum that that substance creates.

        Toad is approaching this issue through the political lens of “affirmative action” and one doesn’t have to search very hard to find that that approach has “spotty” support from the very groups that it was intending to help.

        We can, and should, proactively address the issue of bullying without singling out bullying of LGBTs.  Such affirmative action can create negative reactions from other non-LGBT victims of bullying, as they wonder why their status as targets/victims of bullying is relegated to second-class status.  Formulating a program to reduce/eliminate bullying with an inclusive approach rather than an exclusive approach is, in my opinion, much more productive, and will have far fewer negative consequences.

        FWIW, I don’t think anyone has defended Dr. Granda, even “sort of.”  Certainly I haven’t and I don’t think hpierce has.  If someone else has, I missed it.

    1. Tia Will

      Matt “The problem with bullies is their actions not their beliefs.” I do not believe that this is true. It is their beliefs that inform their actions. If you truly believe that yours is the only truth, and the only way to be in the world, that leaves little room for so much as the existence of anyone else’s truths. All bullying is not created equal. Some is about temporary or changeable situations. The person may feel bad, but they have the ability to decide whether or not to change or conform. Some bullying is about one’s fundamentally being…that which cannot be changed regardless of personal effort. I believe that to confuse the two is to trivialize the latter.

      1. South of Davis

        Tia wrote:

        > If you truly believe that yours is the only truth, and the

        > only way to be in the world, that leaves little room for

        > so much as the existence of anyone else’s truths. 

        I believe that the “only truth” is that is it wrong to beat gay kids, should I “leave room” for the views of the people that think I’m wrong (or the crazy people that think you can “pray away the gay”)?

      2. Matt Williams

        Tia, thank you for making that point. Here’s a simple question for you, “Approximately what percentage of bullies do you think have religious beliefs?” My suspicion is that most bullies in Davis haven’t taken the time to formulate a world view, much less come to a determination that their world view is the only truth. Rather than measuring the merits of their beliefs they are much more focused on measuring the size of their penis.

        When you expand a discussion of bullying beyond the DJUSD purview of Dr. granda’s comment about Madhavi Sunder’s article, then the world view perspective of bullies that you have laid out is much more aligned with the bullying realities on the ground. However, I don’t think Sunder’s article was mapping out a plan for solving worldwide bullying.

        Bottom-line, I don’t think there is any appreciable amount of confusion within the context of the DJUSD and/or Davis. However, I do appreciate the confusion that introducing a world political context creates.

    2. Tia Will

      Mr. Toad

      where its okay to argue that young women be sterilized”

      You have made several references to this over time. Can you provide me with the quote or article in which you feel it was okay to argue that young women be sterilized ?

      1. Mr. Toad

        Rich Rifkin wrote an entire editorial on this a number of years ago in the Enterprise and reaffirmed his view here. Don Shor censored a friend of mine for calling Rifkin out. My friend never posted here again. I persevered but have pretty much given up  due to the inability of the moderator to root out racism, homophobia and xenophobia. Just on this thread he calls out the people challenging racism but remains silent on the racism itself. I think it was Blue Devil who recently posted his concurrence that sterilization of young woman was okay.

  12. Mr. Toad

    “Truth be told, it does NOT appear Mr Granda is claiming a right to HATE.  He may well be claiming a right to NOT CELEBRATE,”

     

    Interesting while trying to defend Granda for not explicitly saying its okay to hate H. Pierce goes on to put words into Sunders mouth as if his inference is implied by words Sunder explicitly didn’t use. I’m not trying to parse everyones words a simple inference of both candidates remarks in an application of Occam’s razor is enough.

     

    Sunder: we need to protect all the kids including LBGT kids who are particularly at risk.

    Granda: crying foul over some perceived religious freedom violation pandering for votes of homophobes.

  13. Don Shor

    This is so simple, I am perplexed as to why anyone is choosing to make an issue out of it.

    LGBT youth attempt suicide at a much higher rate than their peers. Among many factors in suicide, to quote one health site, “in the socio-cultural category is the feeling of being isolated or not being accepted by others. Feelings of isolation can be caused by sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and gender identity.”

    LGBT youth are also bullied and harassed at much higher rates than their peers.

    It is a basic responsibility of the schools to provide a safe and healthy environment for learning. That includes making every effort to reduce bullying and harrassment, and to make every student feel accepted and welcomed. Feelings of isolation can be reduced by the presence of peer groups. Gay-Straight Alliances on campus have been shown to reduce suicide attempts. Being aware of LGBT role models and historical figures can also be helpful, just as it is for minorities. That means you have teachers who are openly gay, teachers and staff who are trained as to how to deal with harassment, and curriculum that may include references to sexual orientation where it seems appropriate.

    The sense I get from Dr. Granda’s comments is that he believes that people whose religions condemn homosexuality will feel that simply being open about LGBT issues amounts to ‘forcing’ the subject on them. In effect: keep that all in the closet, because openness implies acceptance, and their religions can’t accept it. But that increases the isolation of the LGBT students.

    If someone is harassed due to religious beliefs, that also merits institutional approbation. It isn’t a zero-sum game. I’m sure that people of religions with small numbers can feel isolated, just as atheists used to feel when classes opened the day with a prayer (“Johnny can just leave the room if it bothers him”). Learning in a multi-cultural population requires awareness of the factors that can isolate students. In the case of LGBT students, we have clear data that shows the damage. So policies and classroom practices derive from that.

    I think Dr. Granda and some of his supporters here are exaggerating the impact of LGBT policies on students from conservative religious backgrounds, and seriously underestimating the impact of hostile school environments on LGBT students.

    1. Matt Williams

      The sense I get from Dr. Granda’s comments is that he believes that people whose religions condemn homosexuality will feel that simply being open about LGBT issues amounts to ‘forcing’ the subject on them.

      The sense I got from Dr. Granda’s comments had very little to do with simple openness, but rather the formal inclusion of active discussion about homosexuality in the school curriculum.

      I must say I am perplexed as well. Rather surprising what the words “that’s a solid point” can engender.

      I haven’t seen anyone underestimating the impact of hostile school environments. As you have pointed out bullying is a problem for a whole litany of groups. Proactive efforts/programs to deal with bullying and its underlying causes can/should be done in an all-inclusive, all-embracing manner.

      Finally, one need go no further than Marysville-Pilchuck to see that alienation is a problem for even the seemingly least alienated of students.

  14. wdf1

    I agree with Don, here.

    hpierce: Nor would we feel a need to CELEBRATE lifestyles different from our own.

    I never thought of it as celebration, but affirmation, in spirit of what Mr. Fred Rogers would say: “You are wonderful just the way you are.”

    Is it okay to be affirming if it might help a kid not kill himself?

    1. Matt Williams

      Of course it is okay to be affirming. Be affirming by having a comprehensive proactive bullying-elimination program. Be affirming through the inclusion of all the various parts of the melting pot, and as noted before in the quote from Madahvi Sunder, by showing respect, not stereotyping, showing compassion, and fostering empathy and understanding. Be affirming by clearly communicating to all students that they can talk to counselors, teachers, principals, and peers about issues that concern them.

  15. Tia Will

    rather the formal inclusion of active discussion about homosexuality in the school curriculum.”

    Does the curriculum include discussion of heterosexuality?  I believe that it does in the form of health education classes. If issues of sexuality are part of the curriculum then should not consideration of homosexuality and the challenges and issues it presents also be a part of that discussion ?

    This reminds me of the former military policy “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Now I would have been fine with this policy if it had applied equally to everyone. No one is allowed to display pictures of their sexual partner or to participate in public displays of affection. Now this would be an all inclusive policy. But that is not what was done. Only the minority were singled out to be silent about their sexual orientation. Heterosexuals free to talk about their husbands, wives and lovers and homosexuals consigned to silence.

    This is what is now being put forth in the schools. Be nice to the gays, as long as we don’t have to acknowledge that they exist. This is not equality. This is a denial of the basic rights of others wrapped in the self righteousness of imposing one’s religious beliefs on others by silencing them.

     

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > Only the minority were singled out to be silent about their sexual orientation.

      > Heterosexuals free to talk about their husbands, wives and lovers and

      > homosexuals consigned to silence

      I’ve posted before that I want equal rights for everyone and and I’m pro choice on everything.  I don’t want my kids straight teachers talking about their lovers or my kids gay teachers talking about their lovers.  I also don’t want my kids to see straight kids or gay kids making out at school.

      Today in schools only the majority are singled out to be silent about their sexual orientation while the teachers “preach” to the kids how great homosexuals are and how anyone that does not support 100% of things gays do (like the Folsom Street Fair) is a hateful bigot that should be in jail for a hate crime.

      P.S. If a straight kid was bragging about his sexual conquests in Davis today and the other kids told him to shut the F up they would be supported by the teachers, but if anyone told a gay kid to stop talking about their partner they would get in trouble and probably nave to sit through some “gay sensitivity” workshop…

       

        1. South of Davis

          Toad wrote:

          > You know nothing about what goes on in school.

          Was the NYT wrong when they wrote:

          “California will become the first state to require public schools to teach gay and lesbian history.”

          http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/15/us/15gay.html?_r=0

          I’m not in the schools all day like you, but I have never met an anti-gay public school teacher in CA.  Are there a lot of them that you know that I have not met (or heard about)?

      1. wdf1

        SoD:  With my kids in school for more than a decade, I have not sensed that their heterosexuality has been unduly suppressed or that homosexuality is unduly promoted.  They have received the message that homosexuality is as normal as handedness among individuals (some folks are right-handed and some are left-handed, just as some are homosexual and some heterosexual).

        I have seen evidence of affirmation that homosexuality is normal, but I haven’t seen evidence that it is being preached, as in, “everyone should go out and practice homosexuality.”

        I can see where the history of gay rights is worth teaching — changing attitudes over time, Stonewall, Harvey Milk, Briggs Initiative, AIDS, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Prop. 8, Hollingsworth v. Perry.   Do you think these things should *not* be taught in high school, for instance?  If so, why?  There is a certain parallel with racial Civil Rights movement and women’s suffrage.

        I can see where if someone believes that homosexuality is a sin, then such a person has to deal with the tension of figuring out why it is morally acceptable to condemn such a sin in a person if he/she can’t help it, and it doesn’t harm others.  It would be akin to believing that someone is sinning for being left-handed.  The hierarchy of the Catholic Church seems to be struggling with that issue currently.

        1. KSmith

          Great response.

          Part of the issue, I think, is that when people have problems with the schools acknowledging gays in the curriculum, they are mostly thinking about gay sex.  So, it reduces “homosexuals” down to just the sex acts they participate in, instead of thinking about them as holistic people.

          So, whereas you point out that it’s worth including this historical/cultural context relating to changing attitudes toward gays and gay rights, opponents are thinking, “Oh, no. They are going to teach my kid how to have gay sex.”

          Having just had a daughter who went through the junior high sex ed curriculum, I’m here to tell you they didn’t even talk about that much or at all (and some kids who identify as gay felt they were being marginalized because of it).

          I just have a problem with the uproar caused by talking about Harvey Milk in the schools because OMG! it might lead to talking about sex, but that is not the case for straight historical figures. A prime example would be Benajmin Franklin. No uproar at all about how Benjamin Franklin was a known rake and was pretty promiscious. But bring up a gay person, and the sex thing is going to be foremost in most people’s minds.

          It’s a double-standard, I guess is what I’m trying to get out. Including “gays” in the curriculum will be all about sex, while including “straights” in the curriculum is usually never about sex. I would hope including them more would eventually make it to where it doesn’t really occasion comment, and we would think of sex in relation to Harvey Milk no more than we do with Thomas Edison.

        2. wdf1

          KSmith:  Part of the issue, I think, is that when people have problems with the schools acknowledging gays in the curriculum, they are mostly thinking about gay sex.

          Along your lines of thinking, I think the specific point that some have about discussing gay sex is the assumption that it means sodomy, specifically for homosexual men.

          It also involves philosophical problems that some might have about having sex when procreation definitely cannot happen, thus sex must be purely for pleasure.  Then one can turn around and ask, well, is it okay then for heterosexuals to engage in sex purely for pleasure.

        3. TrueBlueDevil

          I never saw a need to study what Ben Franklin did in the bedroom (or kitchen, bathroom, garage). Why should we emphasize that? His (or Newton’s) contributions in science, business, politics, math, or the founding of our nation are what’s most relevant.

        4. Matt Williams

          Solid post wdf. Teaching the history of Stonewall, Harvey Milk, Briggs Initiative, AIDS, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Prop. 8, Hollingsworth v. Perry, and much more in the context of a US History course is pretty much the same as addressing bullying against members of the LGBT community within a program/course/initiative designed to eliminate all bullying of all students.

    2. Matt Williams

      Does the curriculum include discussion of heterosexuality? I believe that it does in the form of health education classes. If issues of sexuality are part of the curriculum then should not consideration of homosexuality and the challenges and issues it presents also be a part of that discussion ?

      Your first two paragraphs make a very good argument. Rational, logical … and it will be very interesting to see how Dr. Granda responds to it.

      Regarding your final paragraph, since you and I know each other well, you know that “being nice to gays, as long as we don’t have to acknowledge that they exist” is 100% diametrically the opposite of my personal beliefs. Our Forefathers wrote into the Constitution the principle that “being nice to ____insert name of any aggregation of human beings here___, as long as we don’t have to acknowledge that they exist” is an unacceptable statement period. So, when Mr. Toad says that we should be nice to the people who get down on their knees and pray each night/day, as long as we don’t have to acknowledge that they exist, I call B/S. The reason that attitude is B/S is its indiscriminate, sweeping application. As I said in my prior response to you, my suspicion is that most bullying has very little cause/effect relationship to daily/nightly praying. Making religious beliefs the target rather than bullying is IMO misguided. We can address/combat bullying without denigrating religions. I don’t happen to practice religious beliefs, but I respect your right and Toad’s right and everyone’s right to have those religious beliefs.

  16. KSmith

    TBD:

    This is what I meant, but apparently worded poorly. We should be emphasizing the actions/contributions of the figures WDF brought up, but many people can only think in terms of: They are gay, so gay sex will be brought up.  I was trying to provide a parallel for a straight historical figure.

    None of their bedroom action should be of focus–not the gay historical figures or the straight ones. But for some of the gay figures, their relevant contributions are buried and the sex thing takes center stage.

    “I never saw a need to study what Ben Franklin did in the bedroom (or kitchen, bathroom, garage). Why should we emphasize that? His (or Newton’s) contributions in science, business, politics, math, or the founding of our nation are what’s most relevant.”

     

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