My View: Why Does Granda Get a Free Ride?

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Jose Granda
Jose Granda

It was supposed to be a “make nice” comment by the editor of the local paper in their weekly column “Cheers and Jeers,” but they wrote: “And CHEERS to the seven candidates for the Davis Board of Education for conducting a respectful campaign that focused on the important issues and challenges ahead for our schools. In contrast to the considerable mud-slinging we had to endure in television ads and mailers for other races, this campaign was refreshing and enjoyable.”

I couldn’t help thinking out loud: well six of the seven, anyway. The seventh, of course, is Jose Granda and perhaps you can chalk it up to the fact that Mr. Granda’s conduct the last week of the campaign did not make it on the radar screen of the Enterprise, except, of course, I had a conversation about it with the Enterprise beat reporter.

Remarkably, the Enterprise reported on October 31: “Davis school board candidate Chuck Rairdan was fined $10 by Yolo County elections officials for being a day late in filing his campaign finance report. Rairdan also was late with his campaign finance report due in early October; he was asked to sign a waiver, but was not fined for that error.

“School board candidate Bob Poppenga also was late with the early October finance report and was asked to sign a waiver. He was on time with the late October filing.”

But what Jose Granda did was far more egregious. First, on October 25, he launched, in his belated response to the Nancy Peterson question, an unprovoked attack on now School Board Members-Elect Madhavi Sunder and Barbara Archer. He wrote, “We have a situation in this race with similar potential conflict of interest. Everyone seems to think Madhavi Sunder or Barbara Archer can do no wrong. That needs to be explored with a magnifying glass.”

“Clearly these statements have Madhavi telling the public that she intends to use her position as a trustee to promote her own personal beliefs on the subject,” he writes. “Madhavi fails to see other conflicts of interest in her campaign. Raising thousands of dollars for the campaign from outside the district and injecting the Democratic Party in a nonpartisan race, does not give a comfortable feeling that this campaign is local and nonpartisan.”

He then raised the issue of Freddie Oakley’s endorsement, as well. “Moreover there is a grave situation when in her mailer distributed to homes in Davis she lists the endorsement of the County Clerk, Freddy Oakley. For those of you who may be wondering what is the issue here: Freddy Oakley is in charge of counting the votes for Madhavi Sunder and for other School Board candidates including me.   If the person in charge of the vote count endorses one of the candidates she has violated the public trust on the fairness of the election and has put that count under scrutiny for fraud. “

He then turned his attention to Barbara Archer: “Barbara Archer 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.”

Of course, as Barbara Archer clarified, she was silent on the issue because when she decided to run for school board, she declined to be appointed to a second two-year term. But, of course, Mr. Granda did not do his homework before making that attack.

While Mr. Granda’s attacks might not have risen to the level we saw in the School Superintendent race or the Ose-Bera Congressional race, he compounded the problem in response to our column that pointed out Mr. Granda was behind on his taxes.

At the end of the of the article, I noted, “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 accused the school district of fiscal mismanagement, the Vanguard learned that he owed more than $3200 in back taxes on two properties that are owned in his name in Davis.

Earlier the Vanguard had reported he had not filed a 460 form for the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Mr. Granda wrote a response that was sent late on Monday night – and the Vanguard published it, per its policies.

In it, Mr. Granda wrote, “In our lovely town there are those who call themselves ‘liberals,’ ‘progressives,’ but contrary to what those words convey, they are the most intolerant people if you disagree with them. That seems to be the case with some of your readers. I am surprised that Mr. David Greenwald will go down the same wrong path.”

He then wrote, “For the record, I have filed my campaign Form 460 and contrary to what he says, I do not owe back taxes.”

The problem is, at the time I wrote the article, Mr. Granda had not filed his Form 460 and had not paid his taxes. He tried to pass it off as though it were my mistake rather than owning up to his error. That triggered a few back and forths between us last week, where he explained why he was late, but never acknowledged his initial error of failing to acknowledge the accuracy of our initial column.

The question is why does Mr. Granda get a free ride from the local newspaper here?

Undoubtedly one answer is going to be that Mr. Granda was not an electoral threat. There were many that believed that, given his 6000 votes in 2012, he could be a threat. Indeed, had he received 6000 votes this time, he would be sitting in third place right now.

However, the Vanguard analysis suggested that it was unlikely that Mr. Granda would garner that quantity of votes and, indeed, his final vote share of 18.8% of the ballots was almost identical to the 18.7% of the ballot he received in 2012. The far lower turnout meant that he received less than half the votes he did last time.

But Mr. Granda’s viability as a candidate is not the end of the story. While he has not been successful at stopping the school district or even the city from passing tax measures over the last few years, he has nevertheless, through lawsuits and accusations, been costly to the district and the city.

Most of his suits were frivolous and were thrown out. However, most recently in light of the court decision, Borikas v. Alameda Unified School District, the school board decided to preemptively and unilaterally make major changes to the parcel tax.

According to a statement from Superintendent Roberson in August, “The District desires to implement Measure E in accordance with the intent of the voters and consistent with current legal requirements.  As a result, the District has decided to implement Measure E in a way that is consistent with Borikas by levying one uniform rate for all parcels of taxable real property.”

The decision by the school to settle rather than fight meant that the district risked losing a lot of money on the parcel tax by treating multi-family dwellings and business parcels the same as all parcels.

At the time, the Vanguard criticized the board, arguing that the board acted rashly and without proper justification in making these changes. Measure E contains a severability clause: “Should any part of the measure be found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid for any reason, all remaining parts of the measure or taxing formula hereof shall remain in full force and effect to the fullest extent allowed by law.”

That severability clause means that Measure E was never in trouble.  It was never in danger of being invalidated.  That clause limited exposure for the district in this lawsuit.  Worst scenario, Judge Maguire would have ruled that the school district violated the constitution in its differential assessment of multiunit housing versus single-family units, and would have ordered the district to go back and fix it as they have today.

But if that is the worst case scenario – why do it now, absent a court order?  The similarities between Davis’s parcel tax and Alameda’s are not nearly as close as one might think.

Of course, none of these changes to the parcel tax impacted Mr. Granda, which suggested he didn’t even have standing to raise the issue. But they all demonstrate that Mr. Granda has hardly been harmless to the school district, which again begs the question: why the free ride from the local paper?

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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66 thoughts on “My View: Why Does Granda Get a Free Ride?”

  1. South of Davis

    David sure must hate Granda (I wonder if he does not return David’s weekend texts like the other guy in town he bashes this much).

    Granda has never even come close to winning an election in Davis and almost everyone in town I know (on both the right and left) calls him unflattering names (even the people that vote for him knowing he won’t win, but to protest against the machine) so I don’t think he gets a “Free Ride”.

    You need to really be butt hurt when almost a week AFTER an election you come out with a hit piece to bash the guy yet again (didn’t your Dad tell you it is OK to fight but after the guy is down not to hit him with a stick?)…

    1. Anon

      I agree.  Mr. Granda lost – let it lie.  Why beat a person when they are lying on the ground?  IMO the statements made by Mr. Granda during the school board campaign did not even come close to some of the nasty vitriol that the city has witnessed in other political campaigns.  Nor do I think it appropriate to air Mr. Granda’s debt problems after the fact, if he has taken care of them.  And Mr. Granda’s lawsuit did make the school board rethink its position, which was probably wise on the school board’s part.

    2. Barack Palin

      Yes SOD, I was thinking the same thing.  The election is over and here David is still rehashing and bashing Granda.  Either you’re right that “David sure must hate Granda” or it’s just a slow news day and David didn’t have much to choose from.    Lately Dunning has been getting a pass since Granda is now taking the heat.  Maybe Dunning’s Sunday article will give David some new fodder.

  2. Gunrocik

    Honestly, if I were David, I would be attacking the Enterprise every single day.  Their lack of journalistic curiosity is harming this community.  Without a strong third estate, we are stuck with a bunch Wolk-hacks running the School District and the Council — and instead of making the hard decisions — our economic base is collapsing, our roads are crumbling and our school district is significantly  lagging and permanently damaging our children.

    David can’t do it all — and he has kids in these schools and I don’t blame him for not hitting the District too hard — they will retaliate against your kids–as I found out the hard way.

    But the newspaper, if they want to continue to stay healthy, has to be part of the solution–and there are issues that threaten our way of life that they  won’t touch.

    I am going to keep posting this until someone can prove me wrong — there should be protests in streets over our schools performance relative to other highly affluent districts:

    I’m not the biggest proponent of test scores, but when it comes to our schools, they help tell the story better than I can.
    Take a look at our school’s “Similar Schools Rankings” on this chart:
    http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2013/2012Base_Co.aspx?cYear=&cSelect=57,YOLO
    This score is far more telling than our base API score.  When your schools have upward of 70% of parents with a graduate education (which you can see if you click on the demographic characteristics of each school)–we better have test scores well above average.
    But take a close look at our “Similar Schools Rankings.”  This is how we rank against schools with similar demographic characteristics.
    Note that 4 out of our 8 elementary schools are  a “1” out of “10”!  We also two 3’s, a 5, and Montgomery leads the way with a six.
    Our middle schools get a 1,2 and 3 out of 10 and Davis High and DaVinci both score a whopping 2 out of 10.
    Numbers aren’t everything, but they sure mirror my family’s experience in Davis Public Schools.

     

    1. Don Shor

      Ok, if you’re going to “keep posting this until someone can prove me wrong” then I’ll just keep posting this reply which you didn’t address:

      I’d be willing to bet almost nobody could explain the “similar schools” ranking and how it pertains to the quality of the instruction at the school. Looking more closely at the link, using Korematsu Elementary as an example.
      Statewide rank: 9 (out of 10). So it’s a good school, right?
      Similar schools rank 2012: 1. So, it’s not a good school? Why?
      API: 896 (STAR etc.)
      How did the other schools in the 100 ‘similar schools’ do? How did Korematsu differ from a school with API in the 900s?
      (link: http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2013/2012Base_Co.aspx?cYear=&cSelect=57,YOLO)
      Scroll around and click on some of the other schools in the comparison group. This rating is essentially a measure of the impact relatively larger numbers of certain types of students have on overall STAR test results. Not much more than that.

      Still waiting for you to explain why MME has a higher rating than Korematsu, with a lower API. If you don’t understand the rating, and don’t explain it, then repeatedly posting it is meaningless.

      1. Don Shor

        Here are the ‘similar schools’ criteria:

        The PSAA specifies the demographic characteristics to include in similar schools rank calculations:

        Pupil mobility
        Pupil ethnicity (eight variables)
        Pupil socioeconomic status (two variables)
        Percentage of teachers who are fully credentialed (not available for the 2012 similar schools ranks)
        Percentage of teachers who hold emergency credentials (not available for the 2012 similar schools ranks)
        Percentage of pupils who are English learners (ELs)
        Average class size per grade level
        Whether the school operates a multitrack year-round educational program
        Percentage of grade span enrollments (grades two, three to five, six, seven to eight, and nine to eleven)
        Percentage of students in gifted and talented education program
        Percentage of students with disabilities (SWDs)
        Percentage of reclassified fluent-English-proficient (RFEP) students
        Percentage of migrant education students

      2. Michelle Millet

        MME scores are relatively better then other “similar school” compared to Korematsu’s.

         

        Higher numbers on the similar schools scale indicate better academic performance when compared to elementary, middle, or high schools with like demographic characteristics. Rank 1 means the school performed below at least 90 of its 100 similar schools. Rank 10 means the school performed above at least 90 of its 100 similar schools.

         

        1. Don Shor

          Yes, I read through the whole site. So Korematsu is compared to a different ‘similar’ cohort than MME, based on some formula derived from the list I posted below. Thus MME, with a lower API, is a higher rated ‘similar school’ in its cohort than Korematsu. They exclude some demographics, and include others. But in the absence of any info about the formula, it is not a useful statistic. As I said, all it appears to show is the impact certain demographic groups have on the overall test scores for the school.

        2. Michelle Millet

          It would be interesting to see how much lower our schools scores were compared to the other 100 school and determine if  it is statistically  relevant number.

      3. Gunrocik

        Don, compare the following three factors between the two schools:

        Parent Educational Level

        MME 52% of Parents finished college, Korematsu:  83%

        Free Lunch

        MME 56%, Korematsu 25%

        English Learners
        MME 31%, Korematsu 13%

        They have very different populations, and my observation has been that the parents at MME do a very good job of accepting the challenge of being the dumping ground for  many of the Districts toughest students — since many of the affluent students in their attendance area escape to Pioneer and Chavez.

        That is why their rankings are very different.

        1. Michelle Millet

          They have very different populations, and my observation has been that the parents at MME do a very good job of accepting the challenge of being the dumping ground for  many of the Districts toughest students — since many of the affluent students in their attendance area escape to Pioneer and Chavez.

          I don’t like the implication that children who come from non-afflunet families are automatically considered the districts “toughest” students who are being “dumped”. These are children we are talking about, not garbage.

        2. Frankly

          Bingo.  Again shows that the “great Davis schools” emperor walks around partially clothed.

          If you are measuring test scores and academic outcomes without consideration of the income and education levels of students’ families then you are comparing grapes to broccoli.

          I would develop a scoring metric similar to a golf handicap that incorporated the income and education level of the parents of the students.  In Davis’s case we should be recognized as being a very low handicap… maybe a 2 or 3… playing near par in demands that all of our students graduate meeting all academic outcome goals.

        3. Michelle Millet

          I would develop a scoring metric similar to a golf handicap that incorporated the income and education level of the parents of the students.

          We showed probably take into account kids that receive academic tutoring outside of school as well.

        4. South of Davis

          Michelle wrote:

          > I don’t like the implication that children who come from

          > non-afflunet families are automatically considered the

          > districts “toughest” students 

          You may not “like” it but it is (almost always) “tougher” to teach a poor kid from the migrant camp south of town who’s (single) mom dropped out of 6th grade in Mexico or the poor kid from Royal Oak who’s (single) mom dropped out of 8th grade in Oak Park than a kid from College Circle who’s parents both teach at UCD or a kid from Lake Alhambra who’s parents met in business school and who now have a stay at home Mom that takes them back east to the MIT Math Camp every summer*) .

          *I have a couple friends that live on the Peninsula that met at HBS and they really take their kids to the MIT math camp in Cambridge every summer)…

        5. Michelle Millet

          SOD: You have no idea how wrong you are. In my experience the toughest kids to teach in an elementary school in Davis are rarely the ones from the trailer park.

    2. Don Shor

      there should be protests in streets over our schools performance relative to other highly affluent districts:

      As I’ve said many times to Frankly when he denigrates the Davis schools: most Davis parents are evidently quite satisfied with the quality of the schools here. The voters routinely pass parcel taxes by good margins. The issues that come up during school board campaigns don’t reflect the negative experiences you and Frankly post about.

      I think you are generalizing about your own particular negative experience, and that your experience is not typical. My kids did very well in DJUSD, to the point that we sought interdistrict transfers every year for them in order to have them here. The range of choices was crucial to their success: the foreign language programs, the debate team, DSIS, GATE, and the Special Ed teachers, among other options, all were integral to our very positive outcomes.

      I simply don’t recognize, based on my experiences and those of my kids’ peers, the problems you are describing. So I don’t assume DJUSD is perfect, but I know that when we were researching our school options DJUSD was clearly the best choice for our kids in the region. How do we compare to other “similar” schools in other parts of the state? I have no idea. I don’t think you know, either, because you just keep posting the link without doing any further research.

      1. Michelle Millet

        How do we compare to other “similar” schools in other parts of the state?   I have no idea.

        That is exactly what the similar school ranking tells us. When we compare our schools scores with scores from “similar schools” they are  relatively lower. In fact in some instances our scores are among the lowest.

        1. Doby Fleeman

          Michelle –

          Maybe not quite exactly.  Means, medians and averages can have unintended effects on any comparison.

          What if we requested to compare the test scores of our non-GATE subpopulation (i.e. the 70%-75% supermajority of the student body) with its non-GATE peers in other districts?

          The data is available.  Should that comparison not be a part of any program evaluation?  In other words: “How well are we doing by the supermajority of our students?”

           

        2. Michelle Millet

          The data is available.  Should that comparison not be a part of any program evaluation?  In other words: “How well are we doing by the supermajority of our students?

          I would love to see this data. One of the concerns I have with our school district is that the kids in the middle are being left behind.  To be fair I’m basing this concern on mostly anecdotal evidence, from my experiences substitute teaching, talking to teachers, and other parents.  Here are some examples:

           

          I have a friend who worked regularly  as a long term substitute at one of the junior highs, she noticed that the more experienced teachers were more likely to be assigned classes that were “easier’ to teach, while the new, less experienced teachers were given the ones that traditionally came with kids that had more behavioral and academic issues.  I remember thinking at the time, shouldn’t the reverse be happening?

          I also noticed when substitute teaching at one of the junior highs that a lot of the time the ESL kids (english as a second language) were often in the same classes. For example I taught 3 periods of 9th grade Science. One was predominately made up of ELD kids. From what I came to understand the reason for this is because these kids all take some class designed for them which is only offered during limited periods,  so their schedules are less flexible, resulting in inadvertent tracking of these kids the rest of the day.

          A friend of mine whose child is not in a AIM class wanted to participate in a “book club” being offered at her school. While the club was open to anyone, it was only actively advertised to kids in the AIM program. My friend found out about it, and had her daughter go into the the school library and request a copy of the book. The librarian asked the girl whose class she was in, when she learned the girl was not in a AIM class,  told her she couldn’t check out the book. (Needless to say my friend straightened this out).

          These and other, albeit limited experiences, have made me wonder if we could be doing more for our non-acamadamically advanced kids.

        3. Doby Fleeman

          Thanks for your comments – and for your contributions as a teacher.  Perhaps it’s too simple to compare just the non-GATE vs. non-GATE, but I do wonder how one goes about evaluating the quality of the experience for the non-GATE subpopulation for a district with less than 10% GATE versus a district with 25-30% GATE?

          Perhaps you just compare the scores and scoring distribution of the lowest 75% of test takers in a district?

          May seem backwards to those who are interested only in how high we can rank, but it still seems like an important consideration to peer how well our program serves the middle and lower ranks (as measured by test results) of our students.

      2. South of Davis

        Don wrote:

        > The voters routinely pass parcel taxes by good margins.

        It seems to me that these votes are because people (under 65 that actually have to pay for their yes vote) are NOT satisfied with the schools (and are hoping that money from new parcel taxes will make them better and keep property values high).

        The UCD Viticulture and Enology Department is probably the best in the world and I’m betting that Davis would not vote for a parcel tax to make it even “better” (but if Davis was a State School with a better than average Viticulture and Enology dept. people would probably vote for a parcel tax to make it a “better” UC school and hopefully help property values)…

         

    3. wdf1

      Gunrocik: …there should be protests in streets over our schools performance relative to other highly affluent districts:

      Please share, which other highly affluent districts do you have in mind?  Would these other districts happen to be Basic Aid school districts?

      When you refer to “highly affluent districts,” I think of Basic Aid districts, and Davis is not a Basic Aid district, and in fact is far from it.  In summary, a Basic Aid district has a very high ratio of property value to the number of students served.  It means that they don’t have to rely on the state to supplement their funding.  The “similar schools rankings” that you refer to make no reference to the funding structure of that school district.  A Basic Aid district is likelier to have smaller class sizes, a fuller range of curricular offerings including general art and music in the elementary schools, and better ratios of nurses and counselors to students.  They could also pay teachers more if they want to.

      I know that other commentors here insist that any extra money spent on public education doesn’t make any difference in student outcomes, but I disagree.

      1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        Money doesn’t make any difference when comparing PA and Davis. The entire difference is the quality of the families and their commitment to education. It’s higher in Palo Alto, lower in Davis.

        Where money can make a difference is if it is A) used to retain the best teachers in a district–which is what your union, WDF, always fights against, claiming, unbelievably, that it is impossible to tell who the best teachers are and wrong to pay good teachers more–and B) if it is also used to change the culture of students who come from families which are unsupportive of high-caliber education. In the latter case, the schools need money to overcome the handicap that bad parents cause for their kids. A lot of that can be done by simply raising expectations of and for the problematic child. Many kids who perform badly in their early years are harmed subsequently by having teachers who have low expectations of them. Kids very often perform at the level they are expected to. In fact, it’s not that different with teachers or other professionals. If we expected better results from our teachers, we most likely would get better results from many of them. But, alas, we expect little, and give them raises for showing up, not for performing well.

        1. wdf1

          Rifkin:   Money doesn’t make any difference when comparing PA and Davis. The entire difference is the quality of the families and their commitment to education. It’s higher in Palo Alto, lower in Davis.

          So test scores now measure the quality of the family and their commitment to education?   That’s what we
          (Gunrocik) were talking about:

          Okay, I can do that.  Palo Alto Unified has no GATE program and they are cleaning our clock test score wise and among similar schools:

           

           

        2. wdf1

          Rifkin:  Money doesn’t make any difference when comparing PA and Davis. The entire difference is the quality of the families and their commitment to education.

          Please explain how “family quality and commitment to education” is necessarily different from money?

          I ask because if we were to live in Palo Alto with a commensurate income to support that scenario, and of course I would want good educational situations for my kids, then I would probably want to make sure that the schools were good, with broad curricular offerings, good school libraries, facilities, etc.  And a demonstration of my commitment to education would be my willingness to pay the taxes.

          Average family income is higher in Palo Alto than Davis, so if money is the measure of commitment to education, then clearly Palo Alto is more committed to education than Davis.

        3. wdf1

          Rifkin:  Where money can make a difference is if it is A) used to retain the best teachers in a district

          How do you suggest using money to retain the best teachers?  A merit pay scheme?  Is there an example of a place where it has worked that we should look at?

          Rifkin: if it is also used to change the culture of students who come from families which are unsupportive of high-caliber education. In the latter case, the schools need money to overcome the handicap that bad parents cause for their kids.

          This is one way to address it that I could get on board with.

        4. wdf1

          Rifkin: unbelievably, that it is impossible to tell who the best teachers are and wrong to pay good teachers more

          If you were to compare a school to a football team, then you would use different criteria and characteristics to determine the best person for each position.  A stronger, bigger person would be a linesman, a faster person might be a wide receiver or in the back field, etc.  Even with those objective measures, sometimes the objectively best person at a position isn’t necessarily the best overall person because of intangibles — is that person a “team” player? have leadership qualities? less prone to injury?  Overall it’s probably better to judge a sports team best on the overall record.  Often the best person for a particular team is not necessarily the very best person on paper for a given position.

          There are some objective, quantitative criteria that can be helpful, but I argue that you and I probably would disagree over who is a better teacher the same way that we could argue over who is really a better quarterback.  Maybe one quarterback has a better formula rating, but then another quarterback has won more Superbowls and MVP awards.

          The problem with making a complete comparison between a school and a football team is that with a school, I’m not sure we have full agreement over how to score schools (football games are more clearly scored).  U.S. News and World Reports things that Davis High School is a great school because of percent participation on AP tests.  Some families value that.  On the other hand, Frankly and Gunrocik seem to think that Davis High School is a crappy school for reasons that are more vague.  Some families on the other hand think Davis High School is great because of a strong soccer and water polo program.  Other families think its great because of its music program.  And then there’s plenty of other criteria we could go over.  Who’s right?

  3. Gunrocik

    Doby:  What if we requested to compare the test scores of our non-GATE subpopulation (i.e. the 70%-75% supermajority of the student body) with its non-GATE peers in other districts?

    We are a 1 out of 10 at schools with  GATE and at schools without GATE.  Many of our peer schools don’t even have a GATE program.  You can look that up in the data as well.

    .Don: As I’ve said many times to Frankly when he denigrates the Davis schools: most Davis parents are evidently quite satisfied with the quality of the schools here. The voters routinely pass parcel taxes by good margins. The issues that come up during school board campaigns don’t reflect the negative experiences you and Frankly post about.

    Many of us vote for the parcel taxes in spite of the schools –and realize it would only get worse without the parcel tax.  As I mentioned the other day, I believe the parents in the District suffer from “Stockholm Syndrome” and don’t realize how bad things are.  But many of us (including many DJUSD teachers) have pulled our kids out of the District for their own safety and well being.

    Frankly, I think more would do it if they could afford it — but the already huge premium we are paying to live here discourages more folks from pulling out.  And many hope that DaVinci can be an alternate to the nightmares of the DHS, Holmes and Harper.

    RE: Basic Aid Districts–what I meant by affluent, was educated — not necessarily high property value districts.  Most of the schools we compare with are no more wealthy as a District than we are.

    Bottom line, I am glad that wdf1 and Don received great educations for their kids in this District.  I firmly believe you are in the minority.

    1. wdf1

      Gunrocik:  You can look that up in the data as well.

      What’s the link?  Is this a list of schools that DJUSD schools compare with?  I would like to see the list.

      Gunrocik:  what I meant by affluent, was educated

      And where do you get information on the education level of families in the district?

      1. Don Shor

        Is this a list of schools that DJUSD schools compare with?

        Each school is in a different cohort of 100 ‘similar schools’. You can click on each school and then find the list of the schools it is being compared to. So here are the similar schools for MME: http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2013/2012BaseSchSS.aspx?allcds=57-72678-6118905&c=R
        And here are the similar schools for Korematsu:
        http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2013/2012BaseSchSS.aspx?allcds=57-72678-0111401&c=R

    2. Don Shor

      I am glad that wdf1 and Don received great educations for their kids in this District. I firmly believe you are in the minority.

      And you have no basis for that firm belief except your own anecdotal experience.

      1. Gunrocik

        My “anecdotal” experience includes my experience and many others as well. I would argue that I’ve analyzed a statistically significant sample size of Davis parents.

        I would run out of fingers and toes listing the number of experiences I’ve had with horrific teachers and site administrators — and I was never the only parent having these issues. My wife has always made sure that I am never the one to bring up classroom experiences at a social function — but the war stories always ensue. Particularly for GATE parents with kids who aren’t the obedient ones. If you aren’t compliant in this District, the teacher of the student teacher they’ve dumped the classroom on will punish your child.

        1. Don Shor

          My “anecdotal” experience includes my experience and many others as well. I would argue that I’ve analyzed a statistically significant sample size of Davis parents.

          And, of course, so does mine. And being on the site council for three years, interacting with parents and students across all levels at DHS and DSIS, I also “analyzed a statistically significant sample size.”

          I would run out of fingers and toes listing the number of experiences I’ve had with horrific teachers and site administrators

          We never experienced a “horrific” teacher. Site administrators ranged in attitude and aptitude, but none was “horrific” either. And we had a lot of interaction with them with one child.
          [edited]

        2. South of Davis

          Don wrote:

          > We never experienced a “horrific” teacher.

          Keep in mind that people have VERY different definition of “horrific” (just like some parents will define the same event as “boys being typical boys” or “criminal bullying that should lead to expulsion”…

          P.S. I find it ironic how many times Don calls out people that have a “different experience” than him to say they are “wrong”…

        3. Frankly

          I think we all argue points based on our personal experience and observations.

          But I think you come off as being largely dismissive of opposing views on this topic.  Either you don’t believe those opposing views to be accurate, or you don’t see them as important enough to warrant material attention, or you are protecting one set of kids – those that might be more like yours or others you deem to need more attention – over the other claimed to be shortchanged in the Davis school system.

          If the first, then you most certainly are inferring that Gunrocik, and others sharing his views, are wrong.

          If the second or third… well, let’s just say it is bothersome given your credentials for caring.

          1. Don Shor

            I believe that you and Gunrock both generalize about the Davis schools based on your own experiences, and that your generalizations do not reflect my experiences or those of my kids’ peers. Your generalizations are very, very negative. Your experiences are no more right or wrong than mine. What you and Gunrock say about what others believe is anecdotal. What you and Gunrock say about the overall conditions of Davis schools could be proven (right) or disproven (wrong), but not very readily. We would probably not agree on measurable criteria, though I would think things like graduation rates and college acceptance rates might be useful metrics.
            What I dismiss is constant exaggerations.
            I have no idea what you mean by my “credentials for caring.”

    3. MrsW

      I attended a PTA meeting at Davis High School in 2013 or 2012, wherein the principal, Dr. Jaqui Moore, reported on a fact-finding trip that she and the head counselor, Courtenay Tessler, had taken to Rocklin High School.  Rocklin High School had been identified as a similar school in “Similar Schools Rankings,” but had received an 8-10, while Davis High School had received a 2 or 3.  What I remember from this meeting is that Dr. Moore and Ms. Tessler observed a different culture in Rocklin High School.  Rocklin High School implements best practices that are based on youth development principles and are practical, when working with teenagers. The one I remember is their Academic Center-type program.  All children know that they may be referred to the Academic Center by any adult, in order to make up work, if they were sick or tuned out or any reason at all–they just need the time. There is no stigma associated with this referral because this is just part of School.  Also, lunch is scheduled so that a student can still each lunch with their friends and go to the Academic Center.  Lunch is extra long, if you don’t need to go. At that time, and it still may be the case, I don’t know, it contrasted DHS because the Academic Center, was provided only for the Hispanic kids and, according to my children and their friends, was a social gathering place for the Hispanic kids. Also, our neighbor’s child told me, he went to get help there once and the tutors couldn’t help with his AP coursework.

      1. South of Davis

        MrsW wrote:

        > Also, our neighbor’s child told me, he went to get help there once

        > and the tutors couldn’t help with his AP coursework.

        It is harder to “close the achievement gap” when the AP kids are getting smarter…

        1. MrsW

          It is harder to “close the achievement gap” when the AP kids are getting smarter…

          Actually, a child who needs help and who is in an AP class is not going to the Academic Center to get it.

          “any evidence that that’s actually true?”

          That’s the million dollar question.  When it comes to DJUSD, as a parent/outsider, you can only collect anecdotes and stories.  You are not on campus.  The information is distorted by the lens of your children’s descriptions and the silence, or selective communications, of the administration.

          As I think about it, however, particularly for teenagers, perception is everything.  If an AP student doesn’t think s/he can get help at the Academic Center, s/he won’t go there for help.  If a non-Hispanic child thinks the Academic Center is only for Hispanic students, s/he wont seek help.  If getting help has a stigma in and of itself, students won’t see help.

          My point was, when Dr. Moore and Ms. Tessler went looking for answers with respect to the “similar schools ranking,” they found that DHS’ culture is in the way of getting its similar schools ranking number up.

  4. Gunrocik

    wdf1: where do you get information on the education level of families in the district?

    You just go to the individual school, for example, Birch:

    http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2013/2012Base_Co.aspx?cYear=&cSelect=57,YOLO

    Click on Birch.

    Then click on “School Demographic Characteristics” and you will get a treasure trove of info including parents educational level.

    Next, click on “Similar Schools Report” and you will get a list of their 100 peer group schools, and then you click on each of those schools and get all the same great content.

  5. Gunrocik

    Doby: Perhaps it’s too simple to compare just the non-GATE vs. non-GATE, but I do wonder how one goes about evaluating the quality of the experience for the non-GATE subpopulation for a district with less than 10% GATE versus a district with 25-30% GATE?

    Okay, I can do that.  Palo Alto Unified has no GATE program and they are cleaning our clock test score wise and among similar schools:

    http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2013/2012Base_Co.aspx?cYear=&cSelect=43,SANTACLARA

    If the business community wants to compete with Palo Alto or Pleasanton or even Rocklin and Folsom–we’ve got to get our School District to clean up their act.  Literally and figuratively–since the physical condition of the schools and the classrooms are just as subpar as our similar schools score.

    The first step in fixing a problem is accepting that you have one.

     

    1. Doby Fleeman

      GR – Problem I see with PAUSD as a benchmark is twofold:  1) The relative wealth and resource coefficients of the entire spectrum of enrollees (and the attendant advantages provided), and 2) secondly, if you rely on averages/means/medians as the basis of your comparison, you will be including the equivalent of their GATE (even thought it is gone) identified subpopulation within those averages – so you’d be back to comparing their entire population versus the entire DJUSD population.

      In order to compare overall effectiveness of the “system” in executing its mission for the greatest good  for the most students (and not just the high achievers), seems like a detailed scoring/performance graph of the lower three quartiles of the overall population would be an interesting reference point.

      The data is there.  All that it would require is a willingness of the districts to cooperate in its exchange.

    2. wdf1

      Gunrocik: Basic Aid Districts–what I meant by affluent, was educated — not necessarily high property value districts. 

      and

      Okay, I can do that.  Palo Alto Unified has no GATE program and they are cleaning our clock test score wise and among similar schools:

      PAUSD is a Basic Aid district.  In 2012-13, it funded its schools at a rate of $14,193/student (source).

      By contrast DJUSD funded its schools in 2012-13 at a rate of $8,870/student (source).

      Do you think that money doesn’t matter in this equation?

      1. South of Davis

        WDF1 wrote:

        > Do you think that money doesn’t matter in this equation?

        Since my wife and I both grew up on the Peninsula we know a LOT of people with kids in the PA (and neighboring) school districts.

        I have no doubt that if the Palo Alto school district cut funding in half it would not make any difference on the SAT scores of the kids of the Stanford/Harvard/Age Group Triathlete  super achiever parents we know with kids there.

         

         

  6. Frankly

     
    I was very pleased and intrigued to read in the Sacramento Business Journal that the state of California is developing a series of databases to track students from high school into higher education or post-secondary training — and then into the workforce.
     
    This is something I have advocated for shifting the mission of schools… moving from this nebulous charge to create “good citizens” that then go find their way in their next step in life, to a primary mission-goal of developing perfectly-prepared readiness for the next step in life toward the ultimate goal of complete economic self-sufficiency.
     
     From the article:
     

    Educators say the potential benefits are immense. For the first time, public schools and local governments would have a way to assess the effectiveness of academic and vocational programs.
     
    Educators and policymakers have discussed this kind of cross-agency database for decades. Some new laws and partnerships approved this summer are expected to result in finally realizing the system.
     
    The looming question is whether educators and public officials have the resources and motivation to complete the project. Many are optimistic.
     
    “Every school district will want to understand what’s happening with graduates, and the community expects to see that kind of transparency in data,” said Matt Perry, an assistant superintendent with the Sacramento County Office of Education.
     
    Sacramento-region high schools have entered into a partnership that tracks students taking workforce-training classes to see which ones end up in college or postsecondary programs.
     
    The tracking doesn’t stop there. A new law aims to establish a public database showing employment and wage information for graduates of community college as well as many workforce training and apprenticeship programs. The California Workforce Investment Board will pool together and publish the database.
     
    The database — which would not identify students individually — would show wages of students two years prior to entering the education program, then two years after graduating, and then five years out.
     
    The database will be modeled after Salary Surfer, an existing program run through the California Community Colleges system.
     
    Other higher education systems won’t be left out. Another law approved last month calls on the California State University and University of California systems to publish graduate employment data.
     
    Beginning next year, the database would show the average salaries of graduates of each university major, as well as the industries that graduates landed in.
     
    The database also would allow the public to see the rate at which graduates of a certain major entered into the corresponding industry. For example, students majoring in medical studies may enter the hospitality industry immediately after graduation, but within a few years go into health care. The idea is to see which majors lead to related professions.

    I see this as the beginning of a fundamental shift in the performance expectation in the business of education… one we should have embraced long ago if it wasn’t for all the union protectionist politics that prevents true reforms.

    One of the things that infuriates me the most about American left-leaning politics is the focus on environmental and social justice entitlement policies and spending that destroys economic growth and job creation… while also blocking needed education reforms to prepare kids for diminished job opportunities.   The left makes up disingenuous political propaganda to explain away their economic opportunity-killing ways by blaming corporations and profit motive.  They enflame global warming scares and exploit every human crisis to make a case that the bogyman is industrialism and capitalism… and not their own doing.

    This election was a small indication that enough people are discovering the truth.  And the need for profound education reform is a big part of that truth.

    California, like Davis, is stuck in old liberal paradigms about education that serve to harm more kids than it helps.  Wisconsin seems to get it.  Maybe one day California voters will get it.  I don’t hold out much hope.

  7. Tia Will

    Frankly

    This is something I have advocated for shifting the mission of schools… moving from this nebulous charge to create “good citizens” that then go find their way in their next step in life, to a primary mission-goal of developing perfectly-prepared readiness for the next step in life toward the ultimate goal of complete economic self-sufficiency.”

    It would seem to me that the article you sited on the theft and destruction of property of the Davis athletes is an argument for rather than against that “nebulous charge to create ‘good citizens’ and to focus exclusively on the next step in life toward the ultimate goal of complete economic self-sufficiency. Sure both economic self-sufficiency and good citizenship are worthy goals for our society overall. After all Bernie Madoff was quite economically self sufficient, at least until he got caught.

    1. Frankly

      Ha!  Bernie Madoff was a flaming liberal… 100% supporting Democrats.

      But back to your point.  What is the statute of limitations for demanding focus on something we already focus on but does not return results?

      The education system is already claiming a mission of creating “good citizens”… and has been for some time. Apparently it isn’t working very well, is it?

      But I’m sure you will just retreat back to the standard “we don’t spend enough money on the problem” excuse.

      1. Don Shor

        The education system is already claiming a mission of creating “good citizens”

        Just curious, who claims that mission? Is it in a mission statement somewhere?

      2. wdf1

        Frankly: The education system is already claiming a mission of creating “good citizens”… and has been for some time. Apparently it isn’t working very well, is it?

        It isn’t when the focus is so heavily on standardized test scores.  We have a culture that wants to objectively quantify things for purposes  of accountability.  No one has come up with a way to objectively quantify good citizenship in a satisfactory way.

        1. wdf1

          Actually I have some interest in seeing how the Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control Accountability Plans work.  It is a state mechanism that uses other measures besides standardized test scores — graduation rates, attendance patterns, student discipline statistics, and climate surveys — to note cause and effect with spending.  That’s an improvement, though I am a little skeptical that there could be temptation to manipulate student discipline statistics.

          This mechanism has been under-reported in the district, IMO.  I was disappointed that it didn’t get discussed more publicly in the recent school board campaign.  The downside is that less money comes to DJUSD under this provision, because we don’t have as “at-risk” students.  The upside is that there is more potential for local control and creativity in addressing objectives.

      3. Tia Will

        Bernie Madoff was a flaming liberal… 100% supporting Democrats.”

        And what exactly does that have to do with anything ? It is you, not I that harp on the righteousness of individuals based on their perceived location on the political spectrum. I can fully appreciate that crooks come in all political stripes.

        I don’t believe that we do focus on building “good citizens”. I believe that we pay lip service to it. Becoming economically self sufficient is important. Becoming a positively contributing member of the community is also important.

        As I told my son when he was being castigated by his non contributing father for his slower academic pace than that of his sister, and was told that if he didn’t step up he would be a garbage collector.

        “Better an ethical garbage collector than a lying, cheating doctor.”

         

         

  8. Don Shor

    [moderator] I have removed some posts and apologize for the offense that I created as a participant.

    Just a reminder that if you have a concern about a post by any participant, including me, you can contact me at donshor@gmail.com, and if you are concerned that I may not be the appropriate person to deal with it  you can contact David at info@davisvanguard.org

    Thanks.

  9. Tia Will

    there should be protests in streets over our schools performance relative to other highly affluent districts:”

    I am thinking that rather than protesting in the streets, volunteering in the classrooms and playgrounds, and donating to those programs that matter to us might be a more effective strategy. Look what the Blue and White Foundation managed to accomplish for what mattered to them.

  10. Davis Progressive

    “I am going to keep posting this until someone can prove me wrong — there should be protests in streets over our schools performance relative to other highly affluent districts:”

    i’m sorry this is a dumb comment.  davis is a top 10 school district in the state.  so if it performs worse than palo alto we should have protests in the street?  really?  that’s like students at brown university protesting because they aren’t harvard or yale.  that’s just dumb.

  11. Gunrocik

    I don’t think parental involvement is at all lacking in the District.  What is lacking is parental activism.  I don’t believe there is the appropriate balance between parents/students/teachers and administration.  There clearly is no fear on the part of any teacher from the administration or the Board.  We as a citizenry have allowed the Board a free ride as they’ve abdicated their authority to an ineffectual administration that gets pushed around by a union that protects the wrong teachers.

    We’ve let a bunch of amateur politicians who are beholden to the labor movement take over our School Board and our children are the ones who suffer.

    This supposedly politically sophisticated City is allowing the local machine to run our School Board, and once again, our City Council.  They put in weak administrators to make sure that the union doesn’t get offended, and turn governance into amateur hour.  On the City side, it has given us infrastructure issues reminiscent of a banana republic, and given us a School District that is now documented as being among the most underperforming in the state — and by the way, there are plenty of folks over at Department of Ed that will confirm that. We aren’t even close to a top 10 District — we need to get out of our collective delusion.

    So, no – I wouldn’t recommend more volunteer hours.  I would recommend more attendance at School Board meetings and more accountability from our Trustees and Administration.  I’d like to hear our Superintendent address the similar schools scoring issue and what he is going to do about it, I’d like him to let us know how many teachers he has fired or suspended for insubordination and incompetence — I’d like to hear Trustees that aspire to make us more like Palo Alto and less like Twin Rivers.  As I’ve said before, we are the home to one of the top learning institutions in the world–which also gives us a world class gene pool to educate — let’s get a School District that is up to our standards.

     

     

     

  12. wdf1

    Gunrocik: What is lacking is parental activism. 

    I think you’re not looking in the right places.  Parental activism isn’t necessarily showing up at school board meetings with pitchforks in spontaneous rebellion.  A lot of parent activism takes place from similar-minded parents getting together and organizing, building support for an agenda, meeting with administrators and stakeholders, and sometimes developing a more formal organization.  Some examples of parental activism are found in the Davis Blue & White Foundation, DSF, Davis School Arts Foundation, Davis Farm to School, and Davis Bridge (now taken over by the school).  This level of organizing has gone on with each generation of parents in Davis.

    I think the more successful efforts generally avoid factionalizing their positions.  An example of where factionalizing takes place is with Davis Excel and PAGE.  Some PAGE proponents have suggested at eliminating self-contained GATE/AIM, where as some Davis Excel proponents have used language that suggested that any alternative to self-contained GATE is unacceptable.  Those are mutually exclusive positions, and it will be more challenging to compromise if both views are brought to the table.

    Your position risks factionalizing, because you are claiming an experience that I don’t think will hold up —

    “Bottom line, I am glad that wdf1 and Don received great educations for their kids in this District.  I firmly believe you are in the minority.”

    and then characterizing those who don’t agree with you as

    ‘I believe the parents in the District suffer from “Stockholm Syndrome” and don’t realize how bad things are’.  

    In 15 years I’ve run into a small handful of parents who pulled their kids out of Davis schools, but I don’t think that they would take your position.  You don’t give Davis parents credit for being more genuinely discerning when they come up with a different perspective from you, and I think that comment comes off as disrespectful.  I think many others will disregard you if that’s the view you want to hold.  I recognize that not everyone has moved smoothly through school here and that things can be improved (I can rattle off at least half a dozen areas to improve), but relative to most other districts, Davis is in a better position, and I think it has worked well for a sizable percentage.

    Demanding that DJUSD be more like PAUSD is way too vague and unrealistic.  Davis Progressive’s comment at 8:42 am is probably how a lot of parents and community members will react.  It’s just about my reaction.

    1. South of Davis

      wdf1 wrote:

      > You don’t give Davis parents credit for being more genuinely discerning

      > when they come up with a different perspective from you, and I think

      > that comment comes off as disrespectful. 

      It is often tough to disagree with someone and not sound “disrespectful”…

      >  I recognize that not everyone has moved smoothly through school

      > here and that things can be improved

      I’m happy to read this from wdw1 since at times I thought he was a sock puppet paid by the unions to monitor the blog and shoot down any criticisms of the schools and deny anything bad ever happens…

      > Demanding that DJUSD be more like PAUSD is way too vague and unrealistic. 

      Is there anything wrong with ‘trying” to make the schools more like the schools in Palo Alto?

  13. wdf1

    SoD: It is often tough to disagree with someone and not sound “disrespectful”…

    Saying that your intellectual adversary suffers from “Stockholm Syndrome” is ad hominem.

    SoD: I’m happy to read this from wdw1 since at times I thought he was a sock puppet paid by the unions to monitor the blog and shoot down any criticisms of the schools and deny anything bad ever happens…

    I get the feeling you haven’t really read carefully a lot of what I’ve written here.  I shoot down a lot of misinformation and misperceptions, and I think a lot of criticisms are weak because they aren’t really thought out that well. But also I feel some ownership of the district as a parent, volunteer, voter, etc., and want to see that it gets credit where credit is due.

    SoD: Is there anything wrong with ‘trying” to make the schools more like the schools in Palo Alto?

    Because we have a different set of resources and circumstances.  Plus I find the discussion of comparisons with comparable schools to be like criticizing athletes for not winning a gold medal at the Olympics.  If you want to use API scores as a measure of student success, then PAUSD and DJUSD both seem to be doing a lot of things right.  But I don’t think those scores tell you what you need to know to improve either district.

  14. Anon

    Wow, how did this discussion go from a failed School Board candidate being figuratively “kicked” while he was down by the Vanguard, to the quality of our schools/school administration/school board?

    We now have fresh new people on the School Board.  If someone wants change in our schools, then let these new school board members know how you feel.  Don’t assume the new school board are somehow beholden to anyone.  Assume these individuals just elected will listen and pay attention.  Only by thinking positively, giving new school board members the benefit of the doubt, and showing up to school board meetings and voicing opinions, will things change.  These new folks might be more open-minded than you might think.

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