School Board Candidates Address School Climate Issues

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In the third of the Vanguard’s weekly questions to school board candidates, we ask the following: On December 1, 2012, residents from Davis and across the region attended a Davis Human Relations Commission hosted event called “Breaking the Silence of Racism.”  For a summary of the event please see here – https://www.davisvanguard.org/special-commentary-unaddressed-problems-for-child-of-color-in-djusd/

A number of the public commenters complained about climate issues in the school including racially based bullying, disparities in discipline between races, treatment of mixed race kids, and the lack of attention given to the issue of race and racism by school climate committees.  Some parents of children of color or mixed race said that their children never were comfortable in Davis schools and ended up transferring.

In the two years since the event, minimal progress has been made.

If elected, how would you direct the district to address issues of race, race relations, and racism?


Jose Granda: I appreciate the opportunity to address this issue and educate your readers about it. I speak from firsthand knowledge as I am the only Hispanic candidate for a seat on the School Board. Let’s start by reaching your readers and for a moment feel what we feel when others address us as “Latinos”.   This term is used inappropriately by School Administrators and those who do not understand the culture nor the language even my own colleagues running for the School Board.   The term is offensive because from many years past the “Latinos” were those in East LA where drugs and violence existed. So the prejudice attitude and suspicion by hearing the term and worst by hearing us speak our language Spanish immediately puts a distance that Hispanic children and parents in particular have a hard time to overcome. Latino means you come from Latin America or your descendants come from Latin culture. So the term is so misguided because Mexicans wouldn’t be Latinos because they do not come from Latin America or Portuguese and French people would be Latinos because they come from the Latin culture. So we have to straighten this out.

All of us are Hispanics because our common language is Spanish. That is how we want to be addressed and be respected and be treated equally. We are an integral part of American Society and as such Hispanic children need to be given the tools to integrate into this country to learn English and be given the equal opportunities to participate in advanced programs such as the Gate program.   I read so much theoretical ideas as to how Hispanics could participate but unless there is a clear understanding of the culture and the language to be able to communicate with the parents, nothing will change. If elected I would implement a direct approach from the School Board to integrate the Hispanic children and communicate effectively with the parents because I am the only candidate able to speak the language. The Davis community has an opportunity, the only opportunity in the 36 years I live in Davis to put a Hispanic with immaculate credentials in education on the School Board.

If what I am saying still does not make sense on how we are treated, just take a look at some of the comments from your readers and even from your editorial staff when I speak and they disagree. In many occasions, the comments are not on my ideas but they get into personal attacks.   If I did not have the education and the experience of being a Professor for 32 years working to bring Hispanics into STEM careers, besides a thick skin, I would not be running for public office. I believe I am the only candidate that is different in this and other issues and thus if you elect me, the School Board will see a difference, a difference that not only Hispanics students and parents need, but this community needs to integrate diversity in the School Board and in our schools.


Bob Poppenga: We have to constantly be aware of and combat destructive “isms” such as racism, sexism, ageism, and other attitudes such as homophobia. Unfortunately, as a society, we have yet to completely come to terms with any of these prejudices.   In many ways, our schools are a microcosm of our society, so it is no surprise that destructive and hateful attitudes occur at schools.   I do believe that the question posed has to be discussed in terms of how best to improve overall school climate, since a good school climate can help students (and maybe parents) grapple with the full spectrum of harmful attitudes and actions that occur. The following are some concrete suggestions to improve school climate in the DJUSD:

  • the District needs to have an objective assessment tool to judge student and parent attitudes and experiences.   While individual stories of harm are real and heart wrenching, the District needs as much objective data as possible in order to identify trends, identify the need for new programs or interventions, and measure program success. While the Healthy Kids survey is a good start, we should look at whether it is as comprehensive as is needed. Some information from previous Healthy Kids surveys is on the District website, but it might be useful to have all results summarized for parents.   Other tools such as the What’s Happening in This School (WHITS) questionnaire might be worth reviewing to judge is applicability to our community (see Aldridge and Ala’l, Improving Schools, 16:47, 2013).
  • the District is aware of the need for teachers and staff who reflect the diversity of our community. Recruitment of diverse and qualified teachers and staff needs to be an ongoing area of focus. Appropriate teacher training related to school climate is also essential, particularly for teachers new to the profession.
  • school climate programs, based upon best practices and best evidence, need to be implemented uniformly across the District. Innovative pilot programs could be considered for evaluation at individual sites with the goal of scaling up those shown to be effective.
  • restorative justice programs should (and are) being piloted in the District. District-wide restorative justice programs have been successful elsewhere and there is no reason to think that they won’t be here. These programs help to insure uniform and fair application of discipline, involve students in the disciplinary and healing processes, and help to reduce school suspensions.
  • we have a large and diverse university student population that might be willing to help mentor certain student groups such as LGBT, Latino, or African-American students. Younger students often benefit from seeing older students overcome discrimination and hateful attitudes, survive, and thrive.   Another option might be the idea of creating student “diversity posses” at school sites to serve as peer support networks and group role models for positive interactions among all students (see possefoundation.org for the genesis of the posse idea).
  • although more counselors are needed within the District, the District needs to better integrate into existing county and city social support programs in order to provide the breadth and depth of services so often needed by students and their families.

Barbara Archer: Towns mirror society in general and while there has been progress on the issues of racism and race relations, we still have much to do in creating an atmosphere of inclusivity. In the last few years, DJUSD has hired an African-American high school principal and an African-American superintendent. This year, a new VP at the high school is Latina and is fluent in Spanish. Many campuses hold cultural festivals to celebrate the variety of cultures represented in our district (over 40 different languages are spoken by students and families in DJUSD). Five hundred community members just packed our DJUSD Brunelle Theater in a celebration of a decade of equity work by Dr. Jann Murray-Garcia and DJUSD students with a member of the Little Rock Nine addressing the crowd. The district also employs a climate coordinator who is monitoring these issues.

All this said, according to a recent student survey, Latino and African-American students are more likely to be suspended at the high school level (although suspensions have been greatly decreased) and less likely to meet college requirements. Students reported in the survey that they felt expectations and discipline were different for students of color. They also reported hearing racial jokes on campus.

Can we do better? Of course, we can.

We need to look seriously at diversity workshops for our students and integrating race and social justice issues into our curriculum. These issues should continue to be discussed at our school site councils and site-specific solutions should be addressed.


Mike Nolan: I agree that race and  racism are recurring issues facing Davis Schools.  Because the student and parent population is always changing, the district must recognize that meeting these issues may evolve, but they will never end.  Having served on an elementary School Climate Committee for six years, I have seen how a committee can work well to meet these issues, as well as how a committee can evade its responsibility.  The difference is when the Principal understands that there is a problem and that parents and teachers offer to work together to meet that problem.

But I would impress on these Committees that the Board is very interested in their work.  First, the Education Code requires Board members to visit all the schools in a District. Second, Climate Committee meetings are open to the public.  As a Trustee I will regularly attend each school’s Climate Committee meeting to inquire how each committee is addressing the issues associated with racism in all its forms and to indicate how seriously the Board takes this matter.  (In my tenure on the Climate Committee I never saw any Board member or District representative attend).  If a Board member shows interest, it is remarkable how that translates to an interest of the Principal.  I will push for a Board committee (of one or two members) to review the actions of the climate committees and work to co-ordinate the committees throughout the district.


Madhavi Sunder:  I am grateful to the Davis Vanguard for prioritizing the issue of racism and homophobia in our schools and community. Davis is a liberal, diverse town that celebrates our diversity and embraces inclusivity. Nevertheless, all of us – parents, educators, children, and neighbors – are beset by implicit biases that affect our perception of ourselves, of one another, and our notion of who belongs in our community.

As a Davis School Board member, I will work vigilantly to ensure that our schools are doing everything we can to combat overt and implicit bias, and to ensure that every one of our children feels safe, welcomed, and supported in our Davis schools.

I am the only woman of color running for Davis School Board. If elected, I would be the third Asian American to serve on the Davis School Board—following in the footsteps of Alice Nishi and Ruth Asmundson. I have seen first-hand the effects of racism in Davis. As early as preschool, my daughter was taunted because of her dark skin. She was scared and did not want to go to school. This has not been a frequent occurrence for my children, but as the Human Rights Commission forum “Breaking the Silence of Racism” in 2012 and my own interviews with parents in the community reveal, many children and families experience heart-wrenching encounters with racism and homophobia in our schools, and at every grade level.

1) I would make “identity-safe classrooms” a priority. As I have written in two earlier columns—one on anti-bullying programs in our schools (embed https://www.davisvanguard.org/hate-is-not-a-davis-value/) and another on how to combat the achievement gap (embed https://www.davisvanguard.org/working-together-to-close-the-achievement-gap/)—students cannot learn and thrive in schools if they do not feel welcome or safe.

2) The district must provide systematic training for teachers, counselors, and families on implicit bias. Implicit bias shapes self-perception (affecting individual performance in school and on tests), and our perception of others.

3) Discipline rates in Davis schools (like in the nation) show higher rates of discipline for minority race children. This is unacceptable.

4) Most importantly, we must change our perception of who we are in Davis. I am proud of the diversity of the families on my campaign team.

(Editor’s note: Madhavi’s version was truncated for this article and will be published in full later; Tom Adams will submit his answer for Saturday).

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About The Author

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

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43 thoughts on “School Board Candidates Address School Climate Issues”

  1. Davis Progressive

    i’m disappointed in barbara archer’s answer.  she acted as though it was her job to defend the school district.  it’s nice that we have an african-american superintendent and principal.  it’s good that we have a climate coordinator.  she did address the discipline discrepency and the academic performance issue, but almost in passing.  what she didn’t do was address the concerns laid out by the people two years ago and how they would be addressed.  i had been leaning toward supporting her, but no longer.

    1. DavisAnon

      I totally agree.  Why is it that those touting their “volunteer experience” (see Vanguard’s prior piece on this) as PTA presidents, site council nembers, etc. have the least concrete suggestions or real solutions to offer? Diversity workshops? How successful have those been in the workplace? What a monumental waste of parcel tax dollars and class time. I’d like to see the next parcel tax pass, but if that is what the Board would be spending it on, they won’t be getting my vote.

      Poppenga clearly is out doing his homework and looking at evidence-based outcomes. I would gladly choose his well-thought out approaches over the jargon-laden answers Archer gives. Each time I read her responses, her background as a public relations specialist is obvious, as I feel like she’s trying to convince me she answered the question to my liking, rather than actually doing it.

      Once again, I fail to see how the “volunteer experience” put forth as evidence of qualification for Board trustee by some of these candidates holds any weight. What specific skills are learned in these PTA positions that a university professor cannot accrue in the absence of a PTA office? Critical thinking, analysis, understanding of statistical analysis, willingness to do the investigation, etc. are the skillset that I think we need, and I’m sure that a university professor is quite capable of quickly getting up to speed in areas of knowledge about our schools. Poppenga is showing the willingness and discipline to investigate these issues and look to outside sources.

      I can’t really evaluate Sunder’s approach without the full details, though it seems reasonable enough and she typically generates thoughtful pieces. Nolan’s and Granda’s answers again contain minimal substance as to how to attack this problem. I’m supposed to vote for Granda simply because he can tell me the difference between Hispanic and Latino?? And, once again, where is Tom Adams? For a guy who’s been trumpeting how fortunate we would be to have the benefit of his decades of experience, he has said almost nothing of substance thus far in the campaign. Perhaps he thinks we will vote for him based on his resume alone???

      It’s time for us elect someone who will serve the public, not just rely on the support of a well-groomed political network from years of contacts in the schools to be elected. I see it as a strength that Poppenga is an ‘outsider’ in Davis politics. Each time I read one of his responses, I am more convinced that he will bring the change that we need on the Board and in our schools. This is an important election that affects the future of our community and should be decided based on the merits of the candidates, not via popularity contest.

        1. sodnod

          It seems distinctly unfair that by the time Adams submits responses to any of these questions, he will have the benefit of reading 2 weeks of reader comments on Vanguard to aid in crafting his answers.

  2. wdf1

    D.P.: <i>i’m disappointed in barbara archer’s answer.  she acted as though it was her job to defend the school district.</i>

    I didn’t read it that way at all.  I thought she highlighted certain steps that indicated a preferable direction of movement.  I also think the district has done a few positive things to improve climate, but there is a lot more that they need to do.

    In reading these answers, I’m struck by how much the concept of climate differs among individuals.  Another part of the equation is establishing measurable data (not an easy thing to pin down for something like this).  Jann Murray-Garcia had an <a href=”http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum/opinion-columns/just-us-in-davis-equity-adams-archer-and-47/”>article in the Sunday Enterprise that highlighted a couple ways to measure climate</a>.  She also endorsed Archer in her article.

    Jose Granda: <i>So the term is so misguided because Mexicans wouldn’t be Latinos because they do not come from Latin America…</i>

    That is odd.  First, in conventional discussion, Mexico is considered part of Latin America.  <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_America”>source</a>;  Also, there are plenty of “Latinos” who are actually offended by the term “Hispanic”.  The reason?  Because it is akin to calling any native English-language speaker “English,” regardless if one is from the U.S., Canada, South Africa, India, or Australia.  We (“Americans”) would not accept being called “English”.  That’s why many “Latinos” reject the term “Hispanic”.

    PS — It seems like the formatting options have changed recently.  I’m not sure how they work.

    1. Davis Progressive

      as much as i respect jann, i think she’s blinded by her differences on the gate issue with madhavi.  i don’t see hiring a superintendent who is african american but afraid to speak out and be an african american role model is indicative of a positive direction on climate.

       

      ” I also think the district has done a few positive things to improve climate”

      for instance?

      1. wdf1

        D.P.: “for instance?”

        1.  There are climate committees at each site.  They can implement local strategies and programs.  Committees seem to be more active and effective at some sites than others.  There has been sharing among some schools of what has worked at one site or another.

        2.  A common strategy of these climate committees has been a recommendation to have on site counselors, usually part-time.  These are typically paid for with site funds.  Archer made the case at the candidate forum that these kinds of positions shouldn’t have to rely on site funds (and site fundraising), but that they should be included as part of the larger district budget for staffing.

        3.  There is a climate survey given every two years in the district.  Such a survey notes a “climate gap” that tends to mirror the achievement gap, which formally defined by standardized test score differentials in key demographic groups.  Typically climate survey data are reviewed and discussed by the board every couple of years.  Right now the board is late in reviewing the latest climate survey data.  They were originally scheduled to look at it at this Tuesday’s meeting, but it’s not on the agenda and seems to have been pushed off indefinitely.  This climate survey can be used as a tool for response.  Right now I’m not sure it’s being used as effectively.

        4.  The district has taken over the Bridge program at Montgomery and Harper.  I think this program does a lot to provide social and academic support, raising self-esteem and positive attitudes in students to some extent.

        5.  The LCAP (Local Control Action? Plan) is now the current blueprint that districts must submit in order to spend former restricted categorical funds.  That action plan includes addressing issues of climate and student engagement.  The first LCAP was filed last June.  I would link to it, but it seems that some of the formatting options have changed, and I’m not sure I can do that at the moment.

        6.  Junior high campuses have a “WEB” (supposed to stand for “Where Everyone Belongs”) orientation program for 7th graders that seems to have produced positive outcomes at those sites.

        7.  Discipline stats have become a little bit more consistent across demographic groups.  This was another issue that Jann M-G discussed in Sunday’s article.

        8.  DHS has an annual student workshop on climate related issues called “Friendship Day” that select students participate in.  It made an impact on one of my kids, and seems to be popular and impactful.

        That’s what I can think of off the top of my head.

        But the district has more work to do.   One of the standard climate survey questions runs something like, “My teachers have high expectations for me, rank 1-5 based on how much you agree or disagree”.  One way that responses to this question is presumed to be reflected in other data is in how many students, as percentages in demographic groups, are college ready by high school graduation.  The way to define “college ready” is whether the student completes the a-g requirements.  Jann Murray-Garcia’s article this past Sunday highlighted the fact that while “whites” and “Asians” have high rates of a-g completion (~80%), Latino students lag on this (just above 40%).  I don’t think Jann M-G’s views on GATE/AIM should discredit her point of raising the question about college readiness.   She has done a service in identifying more concretely a problem that the district should do a better job of addressing.  And I acknowledge that not every kid is cut out for college, but I can’t believe that ~50+% Latino students are not college material.

    2. Dave Hart

      Jose Granda’s response is indicative of his lone ranger approach to political issues in our school district.  His entire first paragraph, a diatribe against the term “Latino” in favor of “Hispanic”, says a lot about him and much less about the community for whom he professes to represent.  People self label themselves out of a sense of wanting to belong to a community.  Both terms, Hispanic and Latino, are broad terms that have gained their currency from being imposed by the federal government for collecting census data and other demographic purposes.  There is a lot of disagreement within immigrant groups about what term is best used to describe people from the Caribbean and Mexico southward let alone from Spain and Portugal.  The term “Hispanic” is more often preferred in the eastern U.S., compared to the western U.S.  There are people born in California who prefer to call themselves Chicano and think both “Latino” and “Hispanic” are terms imposed by gabachos.  To make a very long story short, the issue of “Hispanic versus Latino” self-labeling is all over the map and Granda shows that by getting lost in the significance or even importance of one term over another is yet another reason, in my opinion, why he is not a good choice for the DJUSD Board of directors.

      Second of all, he says “I would implement a direct approach from the School Board to integrate the Hispanic children and communicate effectively with the parents because I am the only candidate able to speak the language.”  Already he has plans to act unilaterally without the help of fellow board members let alone District staff.  What attempts has he made to do this through strategic planning discussions over the years that he is now compelled to go it alone?  If he has, in fact, been working to develop some kind of plan in concert with the non-English-Spanish-speaking communities and has been rebuffed by the Board and staff, I would be interested in what has gone wrong.

      Finally, Granda states “If what I am saying still does not make sense on how we are treated, just take a look at some of the comments from your readers and even from your editorial staff when I speak and they disagree.”  Yes, how dare they disagree?

       

  3. Frankly

    None of these candidates got it right.  They have identified themselves as contributors to the problems rather than people that understand how to solve the problems.  Either that or they are just repeating the same politically-correct hogwash so as to not stir up anger from those that get their purpose in life from the perpetuation of groupism in society.

    1. Davis Progressive

      says the conservative who doesn’t believe racism is a problem in davis.  in his words, anyone who complains is just buying into the pc notion of entitlement.

      1. Frankly

        That is not my point.  Racism exists.  Human bias exists.  They exist and they always will exist.  They exist because tribalism exists.   It is biological.  The point is that this same standard whine is not fixing a damn thing.  We need a “school of one” paradigm shift.  And we also need to involve the students in developing a set of shared goals and a school culture they all take ownership of.

        Kids don’t tend to even think or care about the group differences that the PC correctness liberal political and media narrative continues to pummel us all with… but they all tend to develop predatory tendencies to seek out and exploit any and all difference on an individual basis to fill their own gaps in self-worth.  God forbid you look or sound different… they will pick on you.  It isn’t until they hear from adults that groups are difference enough to demand special treatment that it inflames their senses and gives them another difference to leverage.   But all the energy that goes into this group-victim BS should be directed at the individual need and the message that it DOES NOT MATTER WHAT GROUP THE ADULTS SAY YOU BELONG TO, you are all special an worthy of attention, respect and a high-quality education.

        1. Don Shor

          we also need to involve the students in developing a set of shared goals and a school culture they all take ownership of.

          I think that’s generally the goal of the diversity/awareness/school climate programs, though I don’t know exactly how those are handled nowadays.

          Racism exists. Human bias exists. They exist and they always will exist. They exist because tribalism exists. It is biological.

          I think some would say that it is learned behavior, and that it can be unlearned. Certainly it shouldn’t be tolerated or ignored by schools.

          it DOES NOT MATTER WHAT GROUP THE ADULTS SAY YOU BELONG TO, you are all special and worthy of attention, respect and a high-quality education.

          Good message.

        2. Tia Will

          Frankly

          “They exist and they always will exist.  They exist because tribalism exists.   It is biological. ”

          One major differential between humans and other species is that we have the ability to mitigate and in some cases even override that which is biological.  You believe that there will always be tribalism. I feel that people simply use this as an excuse for continuing behaviors that they do not want to change. We have the ability. I will provide an example. We are designed by nature to have strong sex drives so as to reproduce and perpetuate our species. This is biologic fact. And yet we have overcome the biologic urge with means to control reproduction so that we can choose responsibly whether or not to have children with either abstinence or highly effective means of birth control. If enough of us wanted to truly do away with tribalism instead of manipulating it to our economic or political or social advantage, I am sure that we could overcome that “biological” portion of  our make up as well. My hope is that someday we may be farsighted enough to see beyond our immediate material gain to the long range consequences to our species and our planet, come to our senses and start behaving like civilized adults. This would include the rejection of tribalism and acceptance of humanism.

           

  4. Don Shor

    Poppenga gets an A for specificity.

    Archer suggests diversity workshops — someone might wish to survey students as to their opinions about the efficacy of those.

    Nolan makes a  specific promise to attend Climate Committee meetings, which is admirably concrete — an action item he could actually be held to.

    Granda’s answer doesn’t really give us much to go on, except that he speaks Spanish.

    I’ll wait to see if there is more detail in Sunder’s answer.

    Overall, I don’t happen to think this is one of the more important things a school board member needs to weigh in on. Budget, staffing, curriculum, magnet programs, attendance boundaries would all be higher on my list of priorities. But I’m sure some in this community consider this an important issue.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “Nolan makes a  specific promise to attend Climate Committee meetings, which is admirably concrete — an action item he could actually be held to.”

      the other campaigns are loudly complaining that noal has does less work to meet with such groups during the campaign of any of the major candidates.

      “Archer suggests diversity workshops — someone might wish to survey students as to their opinions about the efficacy of those.”

      there’s an old joke if you want to placate the angry mob form a blue ribbon commission to talk the issue to death, a workshop is a local version of such a group.  it allows you to claim change without actually doing anything.

      1. South of Davis

        DP wrote:

        > “Archer suggests diversity workshops”

        Has anyone ever met (or even heard of) a single person that walked out of a “diversity workshop” saying “I am going to make a change in my life to be more diverse”?  It seems to me that the goal of “diversity workshops” is to get money to the left leaning donors that run them and publicly “bully” the people the far left does not feel are diverse enough (I’ve been asked how many woman of color I’ve dated in front of a company wide “diversity” workshop, that was even worse than the company wide “sexual harassment workshop”)…

        1. Davis Progressive

          i am a little troubled by your response.  is it your position that people can’t learn?  is it your position that children can’t learn?

           

      2. South of Davis

        DP wrote:

        > i am a little troubled by your response.  is it your position that people can’t

        > learn?  is it your position that children can’t learn?

        People can learn, but I have not been in (or heard of) a “diversity” program that wanted to really help people understand “diverse” views they just push “far left leaning/progressive” views and “bully/taunt/embarrass/ridicule” people who have views that are not as FAR left.  As a pro choice, pro gay rights, legalize drugs, voted for Obama anti-death penalty, keep religion out of schools guy I am no crazy bible thumping right winger, but I, like Ronn Ownens and Brian Copeland on KGO (Jewish and African American Democrats who have worked for equal rights) I am not “FAR left” enough for the “diversity” people and I am tormented (just like Ronn and Brian have been at KGO in “diversity” workshops that they talked about on the radio”).  The motto for the FAR left should be bullying is bad (unless we are bulling someone that does not agree 100% with us)…

  5. tribeUSA

    What’s the climate for short people like, or those with big noses?

    I had both until late in my junior year in high school, and was teased about both (and my nose didn’t shrink, I’m stuck with the big-schnozz). With monumental forebearance, I have partially recovered from the psychic wounds ot a toxic dysfunctional social environment.

    Where’s the tolerance/sensitivity training for big nosed short people? Why isn’t this considered a legitimate group with a legitimate grievance; and how is it that other physical factors are used to separate people into groups? Is it all physical; or could there conceivably be cultural issues that might actually predominate?

    1. South of Davis

      tribe USA wrote:

      > Where’s the tolerance/sensitivity training for big nosed short people?

      How about the tall people?  If my friend John (6′ 9″) had a dollar for every “how’s the weather up there joke” he could cover the cost of Davis road repair until 2025.

      The “the tolerance/sensitivity training” industry is set up to taunt and bully the people they don’t like (say smart rich Jewish kids with big noses) and make people bow down to the people they do like (say dumb poor people of color in wheelchairs)…

       

       

  6. Tia Will

    South of Davis

     

    “I am going to make a change in my life to be more diverse”

    No, I have never heard anyone come out of a diversity workshop saying this. But I have heard people coming out of a diversity workshop with a greater appreciation for someone who is not of the dominant race and culture may experience situations that those of the dominant culture do not have to face. And it is my belief that increased awareness and understanding that is the point.  What a lot of protest I am hearing in your posts for such a modest goal.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > But I have heard people coming out of a diversity workshop with a

      > greater appreciation for someone who is not of the dominant race and culture

      The “dominant” culture in Davis is left leaning green.

      Should Davis “diversity” workshops focus on helping the majority (that don’t go to church or vote Republican and hate recycling) learn to have a “greater appreciation ” for the “minorities” in the city?

      If you think my protests are trivial and it is OK for “diversity workshops” to bully and taunt straight white males, do you also support the bullying and taunting of gay black males (or is just one OK).

      Ronn Owens on KGO was told he would be fired if he did not attend a “diversity workshop”.  Should Christian companies also be able to have MANDATORY “save your soul workshops”?

       

       

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        “The “dominant” culture in Davis is left leaning green.”

        Perhaps but it’s also white and upper middle class which is why there are more problems with children and people of color than you might otherwise expect.

        1. South of Davis

          Davis wrote:

          > there are more problems with children and people of

          > color than you might otherwise expect.

          There are not “more” problems than I would expect.

          If the migrant camp south of town was full of white people that didn’t go to high school I would “expect” that the kids would have a tough time, just like I “expect” that the children of people of color like Madhavi Sunder and Winfred Roberson to do well.

          The color of your skin has nothing to do with having “more problems” and the sooner we get the schools to admit this and move on to help “all races” that have “more problems” due to poverty, lack of educated parents or a stressful home life we will be better off.

           

           

        2. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > I think you’re severely discounting the presence of racism.

          So are you calling the teachers in Davis racists who work to keep the people of color down?

        3. South of Davis

          If “racism” was the problem why do almost all the children of well educated involved people of color do well in school and almost all the children of  uneducated uninvolved white kids struggle?

          P.S. It is not just “people of color” that are having a hard time in school, there are more “white” high school drop outs (and welfare moms) in American than any other race…

        4. wdf1

          SoD:

          The color of your skin has nothing to do with having “more problems” and the sooner we get the schools to admit this and move on to help “all races” that have “more problems” due to poverty, lack of educated parents or a stressful home life we will be better off.

          I agree that this gets more to the root of the problem.  Nevertheless, there are uninformed individuals who make assumptions (often unintentionally) that race and skin color must indicate certain immutable characteristics of poverty and lack of education.  That kind of ignorance needs to be addressed.

          But the root issue to be addressed is that of low socio-economic status (SES) families, which is a combination of low income and low education levels.  Families with limited English-speaking ability (in Davis the largest percentage of such families are Spanish speakers) remain isolated socially from the larger DJUSD community, and even from these very discussions about school board issues.

          Granda discusses that Spanish-speaking families should be better integrated, but he doesn’t go into detail as to what that means.  It makes me think that Granda doesn’t understand the poverty (low SES) aspects to the challenges in the school district.  Higher SES Latino families (mine is one) are able to succeed reasonably well in this school district.  Lower SES Latino families with limited English language abilities are not able to succeed as readily.  This is not being addressed adequately by the candidates.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The last time I looked at the achievement gap data closely the differences in scores between races held even holding SES factors constant.

        5. wdf1

          David Greenwald: The last time I looked at the achievement gap data closely the differences in scores between races held even holding SES factors constant.

          When I have searched on STAR test results, I have found where scores are separated by ethnicity for students who are “economically disadvantaged” and those “not economically disadvantaged.”  I think these are identified for by free/reduced lunch status.

          But I don’t think that the parent’s educational level is accounted for in that statistic.  If that’s the case then you wouldn’t be filtering out students whose parents might be grad students at UC Davis, or might otherwise be better-educated but living at a lower economic bracket.

          If it were possible to filter by parents’ educational level, then you could see if there was a numerical reflection of a racial/ethnic achievement gap in spite of parents’ education level.  If such an achievement gap exists, that would be more alarming.  If you know otherwise, please share.

        6. South of Davis

          wdf1 wrote:

          > I don’t think that the parent’s educational level is accounted for in that statistic.

          We know plenty of “people of color” in town that are well educated and great parents.  Since UCD hiring in the last 20 years has been trying to get more women and people of color on the faculty the majority of the young (under 50) UCD professors we are friends with are women and/or people of color.

          It is my hope that the school will get past the whole racial part of the problem and focus on the kids that have less money and help at home since Dad has never been around even if the kid does not have brown or black skin.

          P.S. The parent’s “education” level does not mean as much if the parent is not around (sure “nature” is part of the “nature/nurture” mix) .  If a guy with a PhD. from MIT doing post doc work at UCD gets a Davis high school drop out pregnant than takes off for the east coast and leaves her with her High School drop out parents (who all smoke pot together) in the Royal Oak MHP odds are the kid is going to have a tough time no mater what his race…

        7. wdf1

          SoD:

          The parent’s “education” level does not mean as much if the parent is not around (sure “nature” is part of the “nature/nurture” mix) .  If a guy with a PhD. from MIT doing post doc work at UCD gets a Davis high school drop out pregnant than takes off for the east coast and leaves her with her High School drop out parents (who all smoke pot together) in the Royal Oak MHP odds are the kid is going to have a tough time no mater what his race…

          I don’t necessarily dispute that, but I would bet that situation is more of an aberration than is typical.

          Several years ago I read an academic paper that concluded that the strongest statistical indicator for future success of a child in school and beyond is the education level of the mother (the paper posited that the father’s education level made much less difference), even more so than family income.  I’m sorry that I don’t have the reference to that paper.

          Public schools in California do not collect in a standard way a parent’s education level.

        8. South of Davis

          wdf1 wrote:

          > Several years ago I read an academic paper that concluded that the

          >strongest statistical indicator for future success of a child in school

          >and beyond is the education level of the mother (the paper posited

          >that the father’s education level made much less difference), even

          >more so than family income.

          Keep in mind that most (but not all) people are married to a person with similar intelligence and education.  I read the summary of a university study a few years back that found that married couples typically had a very similar IQ and the range in IQ between married people was even less than that of siblings raised by the same parents.

          One other thing to keep in mind about “family income” is that MANY people in Davis have “help” from parents/trust funds that are usually not mentioned in their “reported family income”.  We don’t know a single family in Davis under 40 that bought their home without “help” (often $100K cash down payment or low interest loan) from Mom and Dad.

          As you mentioned most (probably all) grad students are “low income” but most come from wealthy well educated families that often give them a lot of “help”.  One couple we got to know about 5 years ago that were living in Orchard Park as the husband did post doc work invited us to spend the weekend at her parents ~$2mm weekend place on the beach at Seadrift.

      2. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        “…it is OK for “diversity workshops” to bully and taunt straight white males”

        I do not believe that bullying and taunting are every warranted.

        I also believe that if your were to look historically at our country, or even able to count up the episodes of taunting and bullying today, my guess ( and it is just a guess) would be that white, straight, males would probably represent a distinct minority of these episodes. But the very fact that you believe that you have been “bullied” should point out to you the negative impact of that activity and would seem to me to be a motivator to decry that activity where ever it may occur rather than just saying “well it happened to me too” as if that means it should be ignored.

         

         

      3. Frankly

        SOD – Bravo.  You are clearly the enlightened one on the topic of racism and civil rights.  David and wdf1 and others are stuck. They don’t get it and they most likely will never get it.  Either that or they have too much vested in their narrative and are unwilling to rewrite it.

        The continued idiocy on the display here is breathtaking.  The kids are smarter than the adults, but the adults browbeat the kids into adopting the idiocy.

        I would guess that maybe 3% of people go through life never being bullied or to be rejected from some superficial bias.  These are the people lucky to be born attractive (without noticeable flaws), smart, and with abundant self-confidence.   But since 97% experience bullying and bias, why not just focus on bullying and bias instead of making up victim groups to focus on?  Making up victim groups is in itself a form of bias.  If we are all just human animals that should be treated the same, then why not model that goal in how we approach teaching tolerance and acceptance?

        We have progressed as much as we can with respect to civil rights stuck in the same old groupism mindset.  It is time to reset the paradigm to a truly equal one.  And that means that the adults need to stop their damn projections of group difference and start focusing on the individual.

  7. DavisVoter

    I’m pleased to see that Madhavi Sunder and Bob Poppenga included anti-gay bias as something to be addressed.  I was actually pretty surprised that Archer didn’t mention this issue.   Perhaps Adams, the Reluctant Candidate, will do so when he gets around to his response.

    1. wdf1

      Among the apparently stronger candidates, I would be more impressed if Sunder and Poppenga included issues of student opportunity (the lack of it) connected to family income and parents’ language barriers in the district as something to be addressed.

       

      1. sodnod

        Actually, Poppenga has been speaking quite a bit about what he terms an “opportunity gap” that is exactly what you’re referring to. I have also heard Sunder as the child of immigrants speak to similar issues.

        1. wdf1

          What I’ve heard from Poppenga so far has been more general, as in, we need to address the “opportunity gap”.  In my view, that’s like saying, we need to address school climate, or bullying, or the achievement gap.  No one would disagree.  What I’m interested in specific ideas moving forward, taking what the district has done so far and discussing what the next steps might be.  If I have missed those specifics, please help me out.

          As for Sunder, yes, I’ve heard her give her background as a child of immigrants.  How does that inform her approach to helping lower income immigrants with lower levels of educational attainment and a language barrier (Spanish, typically) as well?  I would point out that Granda also points out that he is a Spanish speaking immigrant, but he doesn’t get further than saying that he would “integrate diversity.”  What does that mean?  Just that diverse students would sit next to each other?  That already happens.

  8. Tia Will

    “If “racism” was the problem why do almost all the children of well educated involved people of color do well in school and almost all the children of  uneducated uninvolved white kids struggle?”

    I would like to take you back about 35 years and use another “ism”, sexism , to address your question. When I was first considering the idea of entering medicine, I was told by multiple counselors that I would not be successful specifically because I was a woman. It was true that at that time women were becoming more common in medicine, but almost exclusively in the areas of Family Practice and Pediatrics. We had not yet broken the surgical “glass ceiling”. The advice that I would fail and should change course was both infuriating and galvanizing. I decided that my strategy would be to be better than any of my competitors. For many women entering the field at the time we became aware that our only route to equality was to be better than our male peers. Many of us were driven to succeed. But our success does not mean that significant bias based on our gender did not exist. As just one example, one of the male senior physicians  in my residency program refused to work with the women ( barred us from many training opportunities) because he did not believe we should be there in the first place. Granted, he was an extreme. But there were many, many subtler displays of discrimination such as men being invited to after hours events that women were excluded from ( at which opinions were formed about whom to promote) and men being preferentially invited to participate in the harder ( advanced learning cases). Having been through this kind of discrimination based on gender, it is really no surprise to me that some of the more subtle forms are not visible to those who are not members of the group being discriminated against, so of course the discrimination is invisible to them. Because you do not see it does not mean that it does not exist. Because a few are able to rise above it also does not mean that it does not exist. And probably most importantly, before you decide that discrimination based on race is dead, talk to someone who has experienced it instead of only looking and listening to those who have not.

     

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I would like to take you back about 35 years and use another “ism”, sexism ,

      > to address your question. When I was first considering the idea of entering

      > medicine, I was told by multiple counselors that I would not be successful

      > specifically because I was a woman.

      Yet you still went to med school?  Why would you (or anyone else) care what “multiple counselors told them”?  I was told (after a counselor got some test kind of test results) that I should be a photographer and a good friend (who liked cars) was told by “multiple counselors” that he should think about going to trade school and becoming a mechanic since he was not “college material” (he still likes cars, but after a couple years at a JC he went to UCLA, has a MA from Cal and runs a software company).

      It was about 35 years ago when I first read that women in college outnumbered men.  Today the majority (almost 6 out if 10) college students in America are women.  In Europe I’ve read that women in med school outnumber men and expect it to happen in the US soon (if it has not already happened).  Sure things were not as good for women that wanted to go to med school 35 years ago but what does that have to do with schools in Davis today?  Why not bring up the fact that 135 years ago Native Americans were killing women (and children) in rural California (tragic, but has nothing to do with the schools in Davis today)…

  9. tribeUSA

    Tia–yes, my dad is a retired thoracic surgeon; I remember visiting him at the large clinic (where I also worked summer as a gardener/painter as a teen) where he had his office and also would see his fellow physician friends; and there was definitely somewhat of a macho culture with the group of surgeons; somewhat different from the other specialists! At that time 1970s, the surgeons were all men; though there were a couple of women in other specialties; and all of the ~50 nurses and physicians aides at this clinic were women (I don’t recall seeing any male nurses; must admit I figured that nurse was a job for females only). To their credit; there were many top notch surgeons  who had offices at this clinic; developed a regional reputation for excellence.

    One of my sisters entered college in the 1980s and was planning on going to nursing school afterward; but she got straight A’s in college and decided to go to med school instead; is now a family practice and emergency medicine physician. I don’t think she experienced any anti-female bias; then again she didn’t choose any of the surgery specialties (she did mention the macho culture around 1990 of the surgical residents/surgeon group at a couple of the hospitals she did residency/internships at).

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