No Surprise in School Race: Sunder, Archer and Adams Cruise to Victory

 Tom Adams and Barbara Archer were elected to the school board on Tuesday

Tom Adams and Barbara Archer were elected to the school board on Tuesday

There was really no surprise in the school board race; the only question coming in was whether Tom Adams or Bob Poppenga would finish in third. The signs seemed to be pointing toward Tom Adams in the last few weeks, and he narrowly but comfortably beat out Bob Poppenga for third.

SB-Election-Results-2014However, the story of the night was really the dominance of Madhavi Sunder, who not only finished first, but finished a resounding first, outpacing the field by 1700 votes and earning votes on 55.4% of the ballot. Barbara Archer was a comfortable second with 20.8% of the vote overall and 44.1% of the ballots.

Jose Granda finished a distant fifth, closer to sixth place Mike Nolan (less than 200 votes), and Chuck Rairdan finished seventh. Those numbers do not tell the full story, as Ms. Sunder would nearly match Dan Wolk from 2012 by winning all but two of the precincts last night, finishing second in the other two.

Madhavi Sunder at 9 pm last night was clearly in the driver’s seat. She told her supporters, “The news is rolling in, but we all know already that this has been an incredible day because this day marks a new generation of folks who are getting involved in Davis politics who are saying this community of excellence has come from people with visions of greenbelts, the Davis Farmer’s Market, the parks, the water, and the bike to school… all of that comes from the vision of people and now the new generation has taken that torch and we’re going to all run together the next mile.”

Madhavi Sunder with Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin and Senator Lois Wolk
Madhavi Sunder with Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin and Senator Lois Wolk

Barbara Archer told the Vanguard, “This has been such a wonderful experience. I’m so happy and what that leads me to believe is this is what I should do. I really like helping people, I really like serving community.” She added, “I feel happy and energized and I’m ready to get to work.”

“We’re going to have a board retreat where we’re going to identify our individual priorities,” she said when asked her first goal. “I might not even have identified them all as of yet.”

She stated, “One thing that is really important to me is the counselors’ issue and not having them funded with soft money.” She said, “I’ve seen first-hand what an effect that has on elementary campuses.”

Barbara Archer with new colleague Alan Fernandes
Barbara Archer with new colleague Alan Fernandes

Currently, PTAs fund elementary school counselors. Said Ms. Archer, “I think it’s too important to fund those based on what a PTA can raise.”

She said she’s worked on a lot of campaigns, but that “every campaign is different. The most interesting thing I learned was… I didn’t realize that when you’re the candidate how much front end work there is. That’s a different animal and that can be as taxing as the behind the scenes work because you’re really giving us yourself and really listening to people.”

“I didn’t realize how much the front end candidate works, how that would be,” she said.

She called it overall a clean campaign, and she was happy for the most part with how the candidates interacted with each other.

ElectionNight-2014-5

“After 100% of the precincts have been counted, I have finished third and I will be on the Davis School Board,” Tom Adams posted in the wee hours of the morning.

Early in the Davis campaign he had posted, “The best thing about Davis elections is the Davis electorate. We have voters who are engaged in the issues and who demand that candidates know and understand the concerns of the community. Because of this engagement, Davis is a model of civic participation. While running for elected office is a right, it has been an honor to run for school board.”

When the Vanguard spoke with Tom Adams it was just before 11 pm, and 22% of the precincts were reporting. At that time, it seemed likely, but not certain, he would finish third and win a spot on the board.

Tom Adams talks to Alan Fernandes
Tom Adams talks to Alan Fernandes

He told the Vanguard, “I’m feeling really good. Right now the results are positive.”

“I always knew Davis had an engaged community,” he said. “But I never knew how much. What was impressive was just the detailed knowledge of the voters and the thoughtful questions that were presented to me.”

“Beyond just the depth of knowledge, (I was surprised) by the fact that so many people want to do something for Davis schools, even people who don’t have kids in the schools – they want to volunteer, they want to help out, the great thing is that these schools remain community based schools.”

He said that the first thing he wants to do is: “One, working with my colleagues to make sure people feel confident in the district so that we can then in two years get the parcel tax renewed.”

Madhavi Sunder's near sweep
Madhavi Sunder’s near sweep

But in many ways, the night belonged to Madhavi Sunder, who seemingly came out of nowhere to energize a broad group of citizens and finish a resounding first in the race.

“We feel so excited about the future for our schools. Our schools are the most important institution in our community and we need all hands on deck,” Ms. Sunder told the Vanguard late on Tuesday night. “I am so proud that we have energized a new generation of parents who have not been involved in Davis politics before.

“They recognize that they have been the beneficiaries for a number of years of the work of others. Now they’re ready to carry the torch to go the next mile to bring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)to Davis, to make sure our climate is excellent, to make sure we are inclusive and empathetic,” she stated. “That we are focused on both science and the humanities. That we are preparing our children for the 21st century.

“I’m so excited because what we see here is a whole community whether you’ve got kids in the schools or not, whether you’re in your twenties or your sixties, a whole community that says that our schools are our future and we’re going to invest together in that,” she said.

Madhavi Sunder gives Speech to Supporters early on Tuesday
Madhavi Sunder gives speech to supporters early on Tuesday

She said that she learned so much in the process. During the course of her campaign, she toured all of the schools in the district. “Some principals told me – they were just grateful, they said I was the closest thing to a board member that had been on their site in a number of years.,” she said.

“I think we have great potential here in Davis, nobody ever doubts that. The question is actually can we reach it,” she added.

Like her new colleague Tom Adams, Madhavi Sunder stated she was “surprised by how much our citizens cared and how much they were willing to do to support the kids and our future.”

Madhavi Sunder said there are a lot of issues that she thinks of when she wonders what should be the first issue to tackle.

“One thing that I’m very concerned about is school safety,” she said. “Another thing that I’m concerned about, that I’d like to tackle, is strengthening that relationship between the district and UC Davis. That’s the first partner that we should reach out to.” She added the city of Davis and the county for other partnering – on issues like healthy children, anti-bullying, services for families, mental health, “that requires partnering.”

She added, “There are so many people who said, I want to volunteer, I want to help, I care. Sometimes that can be overwhelming, so I think that we need to have some commitment and leadership” to integrate people into the district who want to volunteer their services.

The election of Madhavi Sunder, Barbara Archer and Tom Adams, along with the appointment of Alan Fernandes, concludes a tumultuous year where 80% of the school board will have turned over, following the March resignation of Nancy Peterson.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

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

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41 Comments

  1. Davis Progressive

    first of all, congratulations to the winners in this.  you have a tough task ahead of you and i wish you will.

    it just felt like tom adams pushed ahead in the last few weeks, perhaps it was all of the letters.

    i really hope neither archer (who i voted for) and adams (who i did not) will be independent and ask tough questions of the administration.

    i was relieved to see that david’s analysis was accurate on granda.  he got half the votes he did last time, obviously the turnout difference mattered, but he was a non-threat and a distant fifth.

    i don’t understand why rairdan and nolan didn’t put forth better efforts in this.

    for all of the people who argue that we have no idea who is going to win, this race ended just as everyone called it.

  2. DavisBurns

    I met Tom Adams at a neighbor’s home.  He was low key, interested in all students and didn’t have Sunder’s hyper-focus on GATE –I think he will be a good addition to the school board.

  3. ryankelly

    I ended up voting for Archer, Adams and my third vote went to Nolan.  I too wish that Nolan put more effort into his campaign.  Now the hard work starts for all of them.  I think Sunder will find out quickly, just like the Royals did in the World Series with their  shut out in Game 6, that her result still equals only one win.  I am guessing that there was a lot of bullet voting to push her numbers up so high and that is fine.  I believed that she would win with her base supporters from GATE families and professional colleagues.   I am pleased with the outcome.

    1. DavisAnon

      ryankelly, your anti-Sunder bias has been evident starting from your negative posting about her in the Enterprise the day she announced her candidacy. Sunder won every single precinct handily (with the exception of 2 where she placed second), and yet still you can’t pass up an opportunity to slam her. Why do you persist in trying to be so polarizing and divisive? How will this serve our community or children in any way going forward? Everyone is entitled to their personal opinions on candidates and we all have expressed a variety of those in the past months, but it is difficult for me to understand the motivation behind your comments at this time other than to continue your campaign of negativity. I am not even opposed to negative comments – but ones with some logic. Yours just seems like gloating to me.

      I hope that we can wish all of our elected candidates well and hope that they will come together to do good things for our schools. I sincerely hope that the candidates you supported, Archer and Adams, will not be taking this approach and will go forward in a more productive manner than your comment demonstrates on the day after a hard fought election.

  4. Napoleon Pig IV

    Okay, okay, kum-ba-yah, etc. Now that we’ve dispensed with that happy post-horse turf, let’s get down to reality.

    It’s fantastic that Sunder came in #1 with such a wide margin. It’s a disaster that the Lovenburg/Allen/Peterson machine carried the day and continues to control the school board. How many 4 to 1 defeats are on the horizon?

    Can you hear the sound of subtle swirling as Davis public schools head further down the toilet of mediocrity?

    It never ceases to amaze me how many clueless and complacent sheep there are, even among those motivated enough to vote. They probably won’t even look up from the pasture when the block votes of the Lovenburg machine continue chipping away at quality and the over-paid and under-worked senior administrators at DJUSD continue diverting resources away from quality, excellence, and global competitiveness in education.

    Power to the pigs!  Oink.

    1. Tia Will

      NP IV

      You seem very, very sure in your conviction of a “machine”. I am wondering if we will be hearing any conciliatory “oinks” from you direction if your prediction does not come true.

      Would it not be possible to wait and see how issues are actually handled before anyone starts with the derogatory, and frankly degrading comments. ”  By the way, the same could be said with regard to the negative comments about Ms. Sunder.

       

  5. Napoleon Pig IV

    Yes, Tia, I’m always very sure, as are all of my ilk. After all, a pig is a pig no matter how dressed, and the same can be said for sharks, jackals, and invertebrate parasites.

    However, nothing would give me greater pleasure (well, almost nothing) than to provide a few conciliatory “oinks” if and when they are earned. We pigs are never reluctant to oink, but the conciliatory ones are unfortunately seldom earned when politics and power are involved.

    Oink!  with a smile (is that better?)

  6. Gunrocik

    For those of us who have seen Sunder in action, pre-campaign, it will be interesting to see whether or not she continues to be as civil as she behaved on the campaign trail.

    In the past, her feelings regarding GATE were militant to say the least — hopefully she has learned that her vision of GATE/AIM is not realistic–and that in order to govern, she will have to mollify her views.

    Only time will tell.

    1. Don Shor

      Or perhaps the other board members will look at her vote totals, and the breadth of her support across all parts of Davis, recognize that AIM is a popular, successful, and effective program, and leave it alone. If it isn’t broke, don’t try to ‘fix’ it.

      1. Gunrocik

        As one who pulled his kids out of GATE and out of the school system, I strongly disagree–as do many other parents now paying tuition at St. James, Jesuit, Waldorf, and Country  Day.

        Many of the teachers have no clue how to handle GATE students, many parents think it is a high achiever program and not special education — as do many of the teachers–and it creates an unnecessary divide between students, parents and schools.  My friends in other Districts have children doing much better with differentiated instruction versus the segregated instruction that they continue to espouse in Davis Schools.

        If I could turn back the clock, I would have kept my kids out of GATE.

        1. Don Shor

          GATE was crucial to my kid’s success. If the board decides to act on the anti-GATE sentiment among parents like you, they will face hundreds of angry parents who want the program to remain as it is. It will be very divisive.

        2. Mark West

          Don:

          The GATE program your kids and my older two experienced is not the same as what is being offered today.  GATE was designed to be a differentiated program to meet the needs of a small subset of kids (a few percent) who learn differently from the general population.  What we have now is nothing more than a high pressure, high achievement program that is best described as separate and unequal.

        3. ryankelly

          Don, the GATE program your son was in is not the GATE program of today.  Your son was attending when GATE was small – two strands at Valley Oak and one at Willet.   Students came from all over town for a program that would best address their needs.  It was taught at Valley Oak by teachers who had years of experience.  The AIM program of today is a college track.   It divides students at 4th grade into two tracks based on a test that is harmful to the school community all the way through High School.   It is just not reasonable to think that over 1/3 of our students need special education to succeed at school.  It is a fallacy.

          I support removing all GATE students (and their parents) to their own school, separate from neighborhood programs.  This will serve two purposes – clearly show the community what GATE has become and allow the community to focus on the needs of its children attending neighborhood programs.

           

      2. DavisVoter

        “Segregated”?  “Separate and unequal”?
        Could we please consider taking the rhetoric down a notch or two?  These terms have very specific historic associations.

  7. Gunrocik

    How long ago were your kids in the program?  I’ve had many parents tell me that many of the problems with GATE are more recent, since 2008 when many of the high achiever programs were eliminated, which then pushed many high achiever kids into GATE.  And if you understand how GATE works, you would also understand how damaging it would be to convert GATE into a substitute for a high achiever program.

  8. wdf1

    Gunrocik:  …since 2008 when many of the high achiever programs were eliminated…

    What do you refer to, here?  What are examples of high achiever programs that were eliminated?  Was this in DJUSD?

  9. Gunrocik

    To wdf1: I am getting second hand info when it comes to high achiever programs.  I was told by other GATE parents as they attempted to dissect why the program has become so damaging to so many children.

    To Don Shor:  Before sanitizing her views for the campaign, I have first hand experience of Ms. Sunder making her views very clear that GATE should be a “survival of the fittest” and that those struggling in GATE should be shown the door so that resources can be focused on the children that are doing well in GATE.

    1. MrsW

      Our children, who were in the program both pre- and post-2008, had radically different experiences.  Both have temperaments that prioritize their own interests over parents’ and teachers’ interests.  When I went to the GATE information meetings and spoke with other parents, I believed the GATE program “knew” this type.  With our older child, I would say that the elementary teachers did know and the pre-2008 Valley Oak program was generally a good academic experience for him.  Hoping for the same experience for our younger child, we enrolled our younger child in the neighborhood program.  By then, the Oxford comma in this list had been removed from the program’s literature: it’s target child is “…gifted and high achieving…” NOT “…gifted, and high achieving.”   The peer pressure was so great to be competitive in the narrow suite of school subjects that our younger child felt more miss-understood and out of place in the GATE classroom than the regular classroom.

    2. Davis Progressive

      madhavi ran a very strong, open, inclusive, non-gate-centric campaign, she brought in a lot of people, if she governs like she campaigned, no one has anything to worry about.

      1. ryankelly

        If she governs like she campaigned….I think that is what every one is saying.  That she is the AIM advocate on the Board is undeniable and I don’t see anyone trying to avoid that anymore.

    3. DavisVoter

      It’s going to take more than an anonymous post on here to convince me that Madhavi Sunder said that GATE (or AIM, or any school program) should embrace the principle of “survival of the fittest” children.

      Anonymously making arguments and linking to sources is one thing; anonymously making inflammatory factual assertions based on one’s alleged personal perception is something else altogether.

  10. DavisVoter

    I think I’d benefit from some sort of in depth, semi-objective reporting on issues surrounding GATE/AIM, including the history.  There are a lot of assertions flying around here and I’m interested in learning more.

  11. Gunrocik

    There were lots of folks who have been in the room when Ms. Sunder has made her feelings known.  Including folks from administration.  And if she decides to govern in a more civil manner — that is great.

    On the other hand, there is part of me that hopes she does upset the apple cart — while I don’t agree with her vision for GATE — I would love for there to be an in-depth, semi-objective dialogue at the Board level — because there are a lot of kids in this District who are not getting the educational opportunities that they deserve.

    As I noted several weeks ago, and I will keep noting — when compared to our peer districts — even the test scores show that we are failing our kids.  Here is what I posted:
    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.

    Oh, and here is a link to a Vanguard article from 2007, when we were only slightly below average:
    http://www.davisvanguard.org/analysis-of-test-scores-shows-room-for-improvement-for-davis-schools/

    The scores back then were sky high compared to where we are now!
     

    1. DavisVoter

      Well, we can agree that those scores are pretty concerning.  I’m sure wdf1 will be along soon enough to assure us that everything is awesome (and cool, when you’re part of a team).

      1. wdf1

        DavisVoter:  Well, we can agree that those scores are pretty concerning.

        Ok.  Please defend why those test scores are valid and concerning. Can you point to which schools we compare to?  Without it it seems like blackbox calculation to me.

        We live in a community of highly educated citizens who never think to ask what’s behind the curtain of these standardized tests.

        We live in a community whose kids tend to develop the academic equivalent of anorexia, except it’s an addiction to test scores and grade point averages that can never be high enough.

          1. Don Shor

            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?
            Korematsu has 46 students with disabilities who scored substantially lower than their peers (675). That is a larger cohort of students with disabilities than I found in the schools with higher API scores.
            The socioeconomically disadvantaged and Latino students at Korematsu also scored substantially lower. The others all scored in the 850+ range. Asian students scored well above 900.
            (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.

          2. Don Shor

            So if you want to use these rankings to assess the distribution of resources in the district, and consider the API test rankings the be-all and end-all of what makes a good school, then clearly DJUSD should direct more special ed funds and staff to Korematsu, and also provide more individualized instruction to students who are testing lower. It would probably help if more of the teaching staff were bilingual.

          3. Don Shor

            Oh, but wait! They do include some of those demographics in the base API score, but not others. Depends on how many there were. So certain ethnic groups with lower or higher scores have even more disproportionate impact on the ‘similar schools’ rating. And why is MME a 6, but Korematsu only a 1? After all, MME has a base API of 849, but Korematsu has a base API of 896. But MME is a better school, or Korematsu is a better school? After all, they’re both elementary schools in DJUSD.
            MME is a 6 because the average API for the 100 schools in MME’s ‘similar schools’ cohort is lower than the average API for the 100 schools in Korematsu’s ‘similar schools’ cohort.
            Which one would you pick for your kid if you were using this ‘similar schools’ API as your basis?
            I hope you keep posting this link. It really proves the value of these API scores and the similar schools rankings.

      2. DavisVoter

        There are two things going on here.

        One is pointing out wdf1’s role on the Vanguard as an apologist and excuse-maker for DJUSD.  Little additional evidence of that is needed at this point, but it’s always fun to elicit the Pavlovian response.

        The other is the role of these “similar schools” rankings.  The only “position” on that I’ve taken on that is that “Gunrocik” and I apparently agreed that these rankings were “pretty concerning.”  As I did in fact find them pretty concerning, I’m pretty sure that only Gunrocik can prove me wrong on this one.  If s/he does so, I’ll cheerfully accept correction without resort to detached snark, I promise.

        As far as the substance, you’ll note that I didn’t write, “These rankings conclusively prove that DJUSD sucks.”  Instead, the expression of “concern” indicates that I want to understand this situation better.  I’m not Frankly or wdf1.  I’m not committed to a position that DJUSD is “crappy” or “awesome.”

        I take the point that these rankings will depend on the choice of comp schools. I take the point that *some* (possibly cherry-picked, I can’t tell) comp schools have *some* demographic characteristics that would lead us to expect them to perform better than allegedly comparable DJUSD schools.  However, I have not seen an analysis suggesting that DJUSD’s uniformly poor performance on these rankings *in fact* results from comparison to demographically advantaged schools.  So I remain concerned — not convinced one way or the other, but concerned — at this point.

        1. Don Shor

          If you are “concerned” then you can click on the link and compare some of the 100 schools in each ‘similar school’ rating for any Davis school. That’s what I did. Thus we find that MME is rated higher compared to ‘similar schools’ than Korematsu compared to 100 different ‘similar schools’, even though Korematsu has a higher API rating than MME. What exactly does that tell you? Is it useful information? Is Korematsu a better or worse school than MME?

          I have not seen an analysis suggesting that DJUSD’s uniformly poor performance on these rankings *in fact* results from comparison to demographically advantaged schools. So I remain concerned

          You aren’t likely to see that analysis, because it would be very time consuming, to little end.
          So exactly what remains that you are “concerned” about?

  12. DavisVoter

    If I’m reading this correctly, I’m seeing 5.50% disability for 1-ranked Chavez (877 API), 5.45% disability for 10-ranked comp school Furman (980 API) and 8.22% disability for 8-ranked Bacich (944 API).  Furman and Bacich are both in the Chavez comparison group.  I draw little from this other than that the method of “clicking the link and compar[ing] some of the 100 schools” doesn’t tell you too much, which I thought was implicit in my previous post.  There are too many factors and too much data for eyeballing the numbers to be terribly useful.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a real analysis supported the conclusion that DJUSD’s apparent poor performance results from demographic differences between our schools and comparison schools.  However, we don’t have such an analysis in hand.

    Your Korematsu v. MME point seems to relate to choices across comparison groups rather than within comparison groups, so I don’t think the “similar schools” method wouldn’t have anything to say about it, even if it were valid for comparisons within groups.  MME might do a better job of serving its less-advantaged population than Korematsu does of serving its more-advantaged population. That doesn’t necessarily tell someone with an advantaged child how to choose between those two.

    However, if the schools in Piedmont do a better job than the schools in Davis of serving advantaged children, then someone with an advantaged child might decide to move to Piedmont.

    1. Gunrocik

      As an academician with far too much background in statistical analysis, I doubt there is anyone on this blog who is more skeptical of school test scores.  However, I do find that the similar schools ranking is a very useful method of seeing how a school performs against its peer group.  Comparing peer groups has more validity than comparing schools that have very different demographic characteristics.

      Again, test scores and peer group reviews on their own are not necessarily valid.  But this certainly reinforces the horrific experience gifted students experience in Davis Schools.  I have plenty of Stanford and Berkeley colleagues who have children in the schools we are compared against and they haven’t experienced anything close to the misery that my children and many others continue to experience in this District.

      I would challenge any of you to talk to no less than ten parents with children in our School District — who also have had experience in at least one other School District–which reduces the chance they have the Stockholm Syndrome many parents have in this District.  And I am guessing you will hear about teachers that should have been fired years ago, administrators that do nothing about poor teachers, rampant bullying that isn’t addressed and over crowded classrooms with disinterested teachers.  Welcome to Davis Unified, which based on a scientific study, is one of the lowest performing Districts in the entire state!

      1. wdf1

        Gunrocik:  If you understand how the similar schools calculation works and how it should be understood, or if you know where it is explained and how all the variables are weighted in a formula, please explain.  I actually have the patience, background, and insanity to want to learn about it.  These test scores are paid for by the public (taxpayer money), so there’s no reason that any of this shouldn’t be public.

        However, “again, test scores and peer group reviews on their own are not necessarily valid.  But this certainly reinforces the horrific experience gifted students experience in Davis Schools” comes across to me as meaning ‘these test scores may not be valid, but I’m going to believe them anyway because they fit my reality.’  That gives me no confidence in knowing what to do with the test scores, except offer me an example that it’s okay to believe test scores if it fits my reality.

        I also submit to you that at least part of the subjective misery of your experience is likely attributable to a culture that measures everything in terms of standardized test scores.  Teachers and students alike are trained at some point that little else in school is worthwhile if it doesn’t yield a higher test score.  Unfortunately there are many experiences and outcomes in education that cannot be measured by standardized test scores.  In the seemingly benign intent to impose high standards by raising the test score thresholds, then any outcome or activity that cannot be measured by a standardized test is cut, ignored, and eliminated.

  13. Gunrocik

    wdf1 – I will see if I can find a grad student with the patience, background and insanity to investigate deeper into how the rankings are derived.

    Regarding my misery —  I don’t think my misery is related to test scores.  I’ve never worried about my kids test scores.  I just want my kids to enjoy learning, be nurtured by their teachers and feel like they are in safe environment.  I’ve had children in a number of school districts — all in college towns with a highly educated population — Davis is the outlier.  While there are unquestionably many dedicated teachers and administrators here, there are enough problem teachers — particularly in GATE — to permanently damage your childrens outlook on education.

    Not only was I shocked at the number of teachers who shouldn’t be anywhere near a child, I was even more shocked by how impotent the site administrators were to do anything about it.  I even had a situation where my email to a principal was forwarded to the teacher who then forwarded it to their other teachers — thus guaranteeing retaliation from all of his teachers instead of just one.

    My “aha” moment was when one of their worst teachers was speaking at a Board of Trustees meeting regarding a labor issue — and was clearly the alpha in the room.  It sickened me to see how the Board members pandered to this teacher who was destroying my child’s love of learning.

    So, no.  My misery is completely related to what teachers did to my children — not what they did to their test scores.

    One data point I would love to get measured is how many teachers have put their kids in private school or out of the District.  At one of the schools I’ve had children, six out of 20 classmates were children of Davis Unified Teachers.  I think that tells you about the quality of education we are getting in our District.

  14. South of Davis

    Gunroick wrote:

    > I even had a situation where my email to a principal was forwarded

    > to the teacher who then forwarded it to their other teachers — thus

    > guaranteeing retaliation from all of his teachers instead of just one.

    An old boss used to remind me to “praise publicly” and “criticize in private”.  He also used to remind me to avoid putting anything negative in writing (since as Gunroick has experienced it tends to get passed around)..

    > One data point I would love to get measured is how many

    > teachers have put their kids in private school or out of the District.

    This would be an interesting data point.  I know a couple Davis public school teachers who have their kids in the local public schools but the two teachers I know on the Peninsula send their kids to Phillips Brooks and Sacred Heart despite the fact that their kids could go to a “top 1%” public school.  To be fair I know that both are not “paying” for private school since they have (rich) parents that pay the over $25K/year both schools charge for tuition (but they complain to me that the schools are always hitting them up for even more money and they need to remind the schools that teachers ton’t make as much as VCs).  It would also be interesting to see if any public school teachers in Winters, Woodland or West Sac send their kids to Davis public schools.

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