Tom Adams on Race and Climate Issues

Tom Adams
Tom Adams

On Friday, we posted the majority of responses on our third weekly question to school board candidates.  It turns out getting answers from seven candidates is a bit like herding cats.  So on Saturday we posted, Chuck Rairdan’s response and below we finally have the response from Tom Adams.  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 –

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?

Tom Adams: School climate was a major concern of the assessment subcommittee of the Strategic Planning Process. We sought to have the district find a consistent measure of the attitudes of our students and the treatment and acceptance of different groups. One point of consensus was the need to understand how schools address issues of bullying, racial insensitivity and discrimination, and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. The Committee stated that Davis school district “needs . . . to ensure that students, parents and staff feel connected enough to collaborate in building the best possible educational environments for all of our children…. Some tools would assess school culture by studying attitudes, such as personal safety, social acceptance, and academic encouragement, and others would examine behaviors, such as parent and student participation in voluntary activities as well as teacher’s collaborations with one another.” Key to the plan was creating a task force that would focus on how to measure the different attitudes and the depth of positive and distributing trends in social acceptance of all students. I would support the creation of the task force as called for in the plan, the use of new tools of measuring attitudes of acceptance, and additional professional learning. As a school board member, I participate in the same education and learning that teachers, students, parents, staff, and administrators. I look forward to efforts to address issues of race, race relations, racism and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.


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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7 thoughts on “Tom Adams on Race and Climate Issues”

  1. Davis Progressive

    we waited three days for this answer?  tom adams has nothing of substance to say for himself.  he repeats from the task force and then offers us platitudes that show no depth of understanding of the actual problems faced in davis.

      1. DavisParent

        When I see some of the comments about the school board election, I’m not surprised that issues of bullying and climate are still relevant.   The adults are setting a poor example.  And this comment is at least marginal, “I sincerely hope Davis voters are smart enough not to vote for Adams.”  Attacking voters’ intelligence rather than engage in reasoned debate.

        1. DavisAnon

          Forgive me, it was sarcasm. I am truly baffled by Mr. Adams’ campaign (or lack thereof). For a guy who pushes his many years of experience in education, he seems to have little interest in this election, the issues facing our schools or real insight into how to handle them. First he didn’t get the questions posed by Vanguard, and I have no reason to believe that’s not true. But now, after a long delay where he could have gained insights from the feedback to other candidates’ answers, he puts out one very poor answer showing very little insight into how to approach this important  issue?!

          I don’t know if he’s decided he doesn’t really want to run or if he’s just not cut out for this. But now is the time the candidates are supposed to be putting their best foot forward and impressing the voters. The take-home message I’m getting from the way he is campaigning is that he is not likely to be a trustee who will do his homework or feel an obligation to be responsive to the concerns of our community.  If Davis voters choose to elect him based on what he has shown in the campaign, they should not be surprised if he turns out to be a poor School Board member.

  2. MrsW

    I wish I had been able to participate in the earlier discussions.

    I think that when this second curriculum—the non-academic social curriculum—has been neglected for so long, it’s got to be hard for School Board candidates to get their heads around it, let alone actually have ideas about how their role can influence the school climate.  They can encourage and fund Bullying Workshops, but what kids need is on-the-ground adults-who-give-a-damn and who are willing work together to figure-it-out every day.
    Here is one idea.  Every adult may find themselves in the situation, where they could teach any child how to resolve a conflict or treat others respectfully. I would like to see District leadership lead a campaign, where the adults at each school–the people with Power–make a point to learn students’ names–the people over whom they have Power–and quickly learn how to pronounce their names correctly and joyfully.  At the elementary level, not just their own students, but every student in their school, magnet students and non-magnet students.  At the secondary level, learn the names of your own students, even the quiet ones, within the first quarter.  And, while learning the names of students, commit to learning the names of all of the new teachers and staff and welcome them. And while you’re you’re doing this, guide your students to pay attention to people’s names. Help them form this very good habit.  Teach them good manners.

    1. DavisAnon

      You’re absolutely right. When a principal, teacher or staff member goes to the trouble of learning your name, it sends the message that you are important as a member of that school community and also that you will be held accountable for your behavior.

  3. DavisVoter

    “Key to the plan was creating a task force that would focus on how to measure the different attitudes and the depth of positive and distributing trends in social acceptance of all students.”

    “As a school board member, I participate in the same education and learning that teachers, students, parents, staff, and administrators. ”


    Two sentences that don’t read correctly in a three-days-late statement of 246 words, 68 of which are quoted from another document?   Certainly we all make mistakes, and I think I can guess what he means in both cases (although I’m not sure about #1).  Nevertheless, there’s a pattern in Adams’ behavior that suggests that he is just going through the motions.  I continue to question whether he really wants the job.

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