School Board Prioritizes Achievement Gap During Retreat

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achievement-gap

Late on Saturday afternoon, Superintendent Winfred Roberson sent an email to the Vanguard and the Enterprise, indicating, “We had a very positive and productive Board Retreat today.” He added, “The Board unanimously agreed upon two areas for ongoing focus and prioritization: 1) Parcel Tax; 2) Opportunity/Access/Achievement Gaps.”

Finally, the board agreed to establish regular office hours to meet with members of the community.

We will focus on the achievement gap which I consider to be, if not THE most important issue facing our schools, part of the most important issue. At the same time and with all due respect to the district and board who I believe sincerely want to tackle this issue, I find myself asking the proverbial question: why is this time different from all other times?

This issue has been at the top of the list since I started covering the board back in 2007 and it was an issue that had probably been discussed for twenty years or more prior to that. Instead of my ruminating on the issue, I am going to put it into the words of the five members of the present school board.

In 2007 the Vanguard interviewed candidate Susan Lovenburg who put “narrowing the achievement gap” as one of her top three educational priorities, along with “offering all students a high quality education” and “maintaining our current educational programs despite decreased funding due to declining enrollment.”

She would then respond to a question on closing the achievement gap: “Low income, Hispanic, African American, and English Language Learners significantly under-perform white and Asian students in our District. This is not a problem unique to Davis, and is not one easily solved, but I do believe we have the means and the ability to change this dynamic in our schools. A thoughtful, concerted, planned approach is necessary. The Achievement Gap Task Force began this work and it should be continued by our administrators, teachers, and paraeducators who work on a daily basis with these children. Again, making sure that all students learn foundational skills seems to be key to closing the gap, and passage of Measure Q will provide funding to assist in this effort.”

Later she added, “Research shows that early intervention offers the best chance of improving the educational success of at-risk children. The Achievement Gap Task Force recommended that the District support submitting a grant proposal to Yolo County First Five Commission that would offer at-risk children entering kindergarten an opportunity for intensive preparation before the start of school.”

In the 2012 election, the Enterprise asked the candidates to “cite what they regard as the most critical factors in narrowing the achievement gap between more affluent students, who tend to score well on standardized tests, and less affluent students, who tend to score lower, as well as the gap between different ethnic subgroups.”

Susan Lovenburg responded, “The district employs math specialists and reading specialists to work with struggling students at all of its elementary and secondary schools, and this approach is showing some results. She also mentioned tutoring programs sponsored by the nonprofit Davis Bridge Foundation that serve English learners and students from lower-income families. Lovenburg also pointed to Davis High School’s Academic Center program, and the addition this year of a transitional kindergarten class at three elementary schools.”

Alan Fernandes, who did not win that election, noted, “Early engagement, similar to intervention. We need to focus on parent education. Second, teachers need to understand and identify culturally with their students. And finally, community involvement — with the broader community taking an interest in children.”

In the Spring of 2014 as he was appointed to fill Nancy Peterson’s seat, Mr. Fernandes would state, “In the first year of the Strategic Plan the work of the district should be focused on the ‘development’ of the four strategies, whereas in subsequent years the ‘implementation and assessment’ of those strategies shall occur. Therefore, the priority of the Strategic Plan should be centered on the ‘development’ of: (1) a professional development system; (2) a plan for physical space and technology infrastructure; (3) a district wide assessment system aligned with the Common Core and designed to improve instruction and close the Achievement Gap; and (4) a system that enables each student to set and pursue academic, social and personal goals. Of these four development priorities, an assessment system that considers the Achievement Gap should be the first priority because of its consistency with the new state requirement to establish a Local Control Accountability Plan pursuant to the Local Control Funding Formula.”

Last fall, we asked all of the candidates to address the achievement gap: Do you believe there is an achievement gap in DJUSD? If not, then how can we make sure to keep it that way? If you believe there is an achievement gap what are concrete steps to address it?

Barbara Archer stated, “Of course there is an achievement gap in Davis. About one quarter of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. At some individual school sites, this number is much higher. In a recent Sacramento Bee article on teacher tenure, writer Steve O’Donoghue writes that the ‘number 1 reason low-income students, especially students of color, achieve less than their white peers is family income.’ O’Donoghue further notes that ‘a number of studies have found that the main determinant of student success in school is family income.’

“We must do all we can as a district to support students who are struggling in school whatever the reason. At a district candidate forum on Wednesday night, we asked the district’s climate coordinator about climate trends in the district. She said she had noticed an increase in the number of homeless students. The district has support structures in place for these students, and we should review what is being done to see if we have the means to strengthen those supports.

“We must make sure we have equal access to school and program information, which may mean an increase in translation and interpretation services. We have over 40 languages represented in our district. The district has seen a surge in the need for crisis counseling, and we need more resources in that area. Special education students may fall into the achievement gap. I would like to get more information about the district IEP program and communications about IEP issues and accommodations are handled. We have many good people in the district doing their best with the resources they have, and it will be up to the board to prioritize budget for these resources.”

Tom Adams responded: “Davis does have an achievement gap but it is hidden by the high performance of its students. We should continue to support all students and ensure they reach their full potential. On September 18, the Davis school board received an assessment report and noted the different achievement levels in science. However, in the presentation slides, there was no mention of how student achievement breaks down by ethnicity, race, and gender. This information does not inform how the district is meeting its goal of closing the achievement gap. To address this goal, the board and administration must examine the data from all aspects and see where the achievement gap is. One noticeable trend is that student achievement declines in the upper grades. While at the elementary level 82% are proficient and above and at the middle school level 85% are proficient and above in science, at the high school only 75.5% are proficient and above. Why is there a decrease in student achievement in science and an increase in those students who are basic and below? Who is declining in achievement? The breakdown of student data into ethnicity, race, and gender can be done and has been done. When I was on the site council at Cesar Chavez, we analyzed achievement data by ethnicity and gender and used it as the basis for directing limited resources. I wish to apply my experience at the district level and have a full discussion of student achievement and the gaps that exist. In short, I want to affirm a strategy of the Strategic Plan:

“We will develop and implement a district-wide assessment system aligned with the Common Core Standards to effectively analyze student performance data at more frequent intervals in order to improve instruction, close the achievement gap, and ensure that all students meet or exceed district standards. (emphasis added)”

Madhavi Sunder responded, “Preschool and Transitional kindergarten play a vital role in closing the achievement and helping to ensure that struggling students are not already behind when they start kindergarten because other children had access to high quality preschool and they did not. I believe that Davis can lead the way in a new wave of thinking about and implementing public preschool, and we have leaders in the field like Amy Duffy and Ross and Janet Thompson within our town with whom we can partner.

“Parents and the schools must work together as a village to support each child’s growth. At Montgomery Elementary, parents are partnering with the UC Davis linguistics department to offer free English and Spanish language classes for parents in the mornings. Such programs bring parents, including Spanish speaking families, onto campus and into the school community. The Family Resource Center at Montgomery also brings non-Native speaking parents to campus. The new two-way bilingual immersion program at Montgomery allows non-English speaking parents to volunteer and help in the classroom, increasing their connectedness and feeling of being able to contribute to their own child’s and other children’s education.

“Another key area is early literacy. We need to ensure that all children are strong readers by the time they finish third grade; from thereon, they will be reading to learn, not learning to read. This year the district is supporting reading aides in all third grade classes throughout the district to ensure that all of our third graders are reading at grade level. Two-way bilingual immersion, which allows Spanish speakers to learn to read in their first language, gives confidence to children and helps instill a love of reading.

“Extended learning opportunities, such as the Bridge after-school homework program at Montgomery, the homework club at Holmes Jr. High, and summer school programs are other key means for keeping kids learning. Offering a diversity of programs is also key to keeping all students, including struggling students, engaged. A well-balanced school and a well-balance curriculum are the key to all children succeeding.”

Ms. Sunder submitted a full op-ed to the Vanguard, “Working Together to Close the Achievement Gap.”

There is therefore no shortage of thoughts and ideas for how to close the achievement gap. From the discussion, the achievement gap is not going to be closed by addressing a single issue. Based on that, it would seem to be a difficult task to address, but at least it is one that the board agrees is necessary to tackle.

—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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20 thoughts on “School Board Prioritizes Achievement Gap During Retreat”

  1. Anon

    Again, making sure that all students learn foundational skills seems to be key to closing the gap, and passage of Measure Q will provide funding to assist in this effort.

    I am not convinced throwing more money at the problem of the achievement gap is going to solve it.  As a former teacher, I can tell you a lot of the difficulty with solving the achievement gap stems from the refusal of school districts to concede that students must memorize basic foundational facts first and foremost.  Instead children are spoon fed basics using all sorts of crazy methodologies, e.g. the “new math”, the “see-say” method of reading, Common Core, etc., so students become totally confused.  Schools keep catering to the “educational profit mill” that insists new and improved programs be developed – so schools have to purchase brand new books all the time to keep up with the latest educational theory (flavor of the year).

    Just one anecdote to illustrate my point.  When I was an 8th grade math/science teacher, a student was referred to me for after school math tutoring.  This student was doing poorly in her 7th grade math class.  I was asked to help this student as a favor to a teacher who was a friend of mine.   It became apparent in a very short amount of time working with this student that she kept getting two math facts confused: 7 x 8 = 54 and 9 x 7 = 63.  When she went to do math problems like 98 x 79, she could not seem to get the correct answer, no matter how hard she tried.  It took me about 2 days to figure out what the real issue was, and about one week to get this student over her emotional fear she was “dumb” in math.  I sent her back to her 7th grade class armed with knowing her math multiplication tables inside out and backwards.  Upon her return to her class, she very quickly moved to the highest math group from the lowest, and came back to tell me.

    My reaction?  I was angry that it took a tutor on the side to figure out something this girl’s teacher should have been able to spot in five minutes with a simple math facts test.  Instead, the teacher made this student feel she was “stupid” and needed extra help from a tutor outside the classroom.  This student was not slow, but very bright, which was proved by her move from the slowest math group to the highest.  But school administrators refuse to believe the solutions to the achievement gap could be that simple.  Instead they believe the “educational experts” with a hidden agenda/profit motive who dream up new-fangled ways to teach the basics that end up totally confusing students, particularly ones with language problems.  I had to do a lot of tutoring of my own children at home for the same reason.

    1. Davis Progressive

      ” I can tell you a lot of the difficulty with solving the achievement gap stems from the refusal of school districts to concede that students must memorize basic foundational facts first and foremost. ”

      the achievement gap is the gap between how one group of students achieve versus another.  so basically if a group of white kids and asian kids are scoring higher than a group of hispanic and black kids, how do you claim this is due to the refusal for school district to make sure students memorize facts?  what is happening is that one group of students is scoring very well while another group is struggling.  you can’t explain that as a failure of the district to teach facts because one group is apparently getting those facts and another isn’t.

  2. wdf1

    The achievement gap is a symptom and not a cause.  If focus is placed too much on remedying the symptom, overall results will fall short.  That’s why NCLB has failed.  Anon in her comment above tends to focus on the symptom.

  3. Napoleon Pig IV

    Has the “achievement gap” been clearly defined and quantified in specific detail available to the public, or is it a political concept defined mainly by assumptions? I don’t know. I hope it isn’t just a vague excuse for whatever those in control want to foist on the public like the “war or terrorism” or other artificial constructions.

    Defining a problem is important in envisioning a solution. The statements of the Trustees leave a lot to be desired in that respect.

    1. wdf1

      NPIV:  Defining a problem is important in envisioning a solution.

      It is a deficit of resources that typically results in a deficit of outcomes.

      Those resources can include family education (which includes both cognitive and non-cognitive skills), income, and social capital.

  4. Anon

    DP: “the achievement gap is the gap between how one group of students achieve versus another.  so basically if a group of white kids and asian kids are scoring higher than a group of hispanic and black kids, how do you claim this is due to the refusal for school district to make sure students memorize facts?  what is happening is that one group of students is scoring very well while another group is struggling.  you can’t explain that as a failure of the district to teach facts because one group is apparently getting those facts and another isn’t.

    wdf1: “The achievement gap is a symptom and not a cause.  If focus is placed too much on remedying the symptom, overall results will fall short.  That’s why NCLB has failed.  Anon in her comment above tends to focus on the symptom.

    I worked with kids that were of mixed ethnic and fiscal backgrounds – kids whose parents worked in a shoe factory, kids whose parents worked on a military base, and kids whose parents worked for the local gov’t.  I worked with kids whose parents were in jail, alcoholics, physically abusive, etc.  The ethnic minority I generally worked with were black children, but I also worked with many white and black children from extremely poor backgrounds.  If teachers made sure that ALL students were consistently, from year to year, drilled in the basic foundational facts, you would be amazed at what students could achieve and how quickly that achievement gap would close.

    I’ll give you another example, since you seem to doubt I know what I am talking about.  I taught 8th grade math my last year of teaching.  As a relative newbie, I was not permitted to teach the brighter kids, so I had the slower three quarters of the students. The students who were considered the “cream of the crop” were given to more experienced teachers.  At the end of the year, students were permitted to take a test to determine if they could take algebra the next year.  They only gave me about 20 tests, just enough for only my “top” class to take.  I demanded tests for all my students – I couldn’t understand why every one of them shouldn’t be given an opportunity to take the test.  I fought hard and was permitted to test my top three classes out of four.  Out of 89 students, 87 scored high enough to take algebra the next year – an unheard of result.  The other math teachers locked me out of a math meeting, where math scores on this test were compared.  Apparently they were too embarrassed to show how well (or not so well) their students did, especially because they taught the “brighter” ones.  The whole incident was laughable and incredibly sad at the same time.  Instead of trying to find out how I had been so successful, they excluded me from their “clique” – reminded me of my high school days.  Sheesh!

    Students need the basic foundational building blocks, first and foremost.  And they need to memorize it so they know it cold.  Phonics for reading; addition/subtraction/multiplication/division tables for math.  You would be amazed at how many of these foundational bricks are missing in a child’s education.  Everything else emanates from those foundational blocks.  It is no different than building a house on a shaky foundation versus a sound foundation.  Which house will stand if a strong wind comes along?

    What amazes me is how resistant people seem to be to such a simple solution.  Jaime Escalante would know what I am talking about, and would applaud it.  See: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/31/local/la-me-jaime-escalante31-2010mar31

    1. wdf1

      Anon:  Jaime Escalante would know what I am talking about, and would applaud it.

      Are you thinking about the Jaime Escalante as played by Edward James Olmos in the movie, Stand and Deliver?

      It’s interesting to look up accounts that analyze what the movie glossed over or changed for dramatic effect.  Escalante is definitely an interesting figure to study in education, but I think there was a lot more going on than just implementing rote memorization of math, which you seem to argue is the simple solution to the achievement gap.  I think you were probably also doing more for your students than just rote memorization, though that’s how you choose to frame it.  For instance, in reading accounts of Escalante (even seeing some of it in the movie), he developed non-cognitive skills and experiences in his students (developing a sense of setting goals and reaching them, appreciating persistence/hard work, raising self-esteem), as well as social capital — developing a supportive community set on helping the students succeed for the future.  The interesting thing is that his system didn’t quite work as well at Hiram Johnson HS in Sacramento, where he worked later in his career.

      When you look at other stories of educators helping under-privileged students succeed in other activities besides math, would you think that they aren’t helping the achievement gap?

      Here I’m thinking of the recent movie portrayal, McFarland USA for cross-country track, or Music of the Heart or Venezuela’s El Sistema for music.  In a certain framework one could be dismissive of those efforts because it doesn’t have any direct bearing on math or English language arts instruction, and yet it’s clear that something beneficial is going on that would induce me to sign up my kids for each of those programs.

      If the school board setting a priority of addressing the achievement gap only means focusing on math and English language instruction so as to directly raise standardized test scores, then I think it’s really a lost cause.  If there is more to it, then it would be helpful to clarify.

  5. Michelle Millet

    We will focus on the achievement gap which I consider to be, if not THE most important issue facing our schools, part of the most important issue.

    I’m glad to see that some focus is once again being placed on meeting the needs of our school district’s most vulnerable children. I hope in the future the efforts being made by our school board to address these needs are given the same level of coverage and scrutiny that has been shown to their recent discussions on the AIM program, instead of just the rehashing of, in one instance, 8 year old campaign statements,

    1. zaqzaq

      Michelle,

      The focus on the AIM program is a direct result of the parents who care about their student’s education.  Barbara Archer was aware of parent concern for this program when she concealed her true position from voting parents.  Parents are now asked to become fund raising machines because the state is not providing enough funds for education.  Now the parents have to raise the shortfall for programs like art which are also important. The new funding formula further screws school districts like ours putting more pressure on parents to assist in tax measures to raise even more funds for their school districts.

      The achievement gap is a direct result of parents who either do not care enough to get involved in their children’s education and/or who are not sufficiently educated enough to be able to make their children complete their school work.  For example parents who do not read books will not encourage their children to read.  Some teachers impose a 20 minutes a night reading requirement.  This takes what was once fun for some children into a chore.  For those who do not read it makes something that they cannot comprehend as fun into a chore.

      Unfortunately the school district will have to figure out how to educate the parents of the children who are lagging in the achievement gap.  People ridicule the stereotyped Asian parent who makes their children play a musical instrument and do all of their homework.  Then they complain when there is an achievement gap between Asians and blacks and Hispanics.  Families that place an emphasis on education over video games and sports will have children that are more successful at school.  I also do not want to hear the whine that some of the low economic parents are to tired to help their children after work.  In my household both parents work and we still find the time to enforce homework rules while encouraging and balancing time for music, reading and sports.

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        You make good points. Barbara Archer’s deception will come back to bite her when it’s time to vote on the parcel tax. Of course, de-funding public schools is not a good reaction to that kind of deception, but I think regaining the trust of many of the voters who have been paying attention lately is going to be a tough job. Maybe she’ll do the right thing and resign.

        This is an interesting discussion of the achievement gap – good ideas and varied perspectives. It would be nice to see this kind of honest engagement occur more broadly – like maybe with participation by our highly-paid and under-performing school administrators. Now talk about an achievement gap!

      2. wdf1

        zaqzaq: The focus on the AIM program is a direct result of the parents who care about their student’s education. 

        ….

        The achievement gap is a direct result of parents who either do not care enough to get involved in their children’s education and/or who are not sufficiently educated enough to be able to make their children complete their school work.  For example parents who do not read books will not encourage their children to read. 

        ….

        Unfortunately the school district will have to figure out how to educate the parents of the children who are lagging in the achievement gap.

        You are referring to many parents who come from a different country, went to a different kind of grade school system, and in many cases did not finish the equivalent of high school and definitely didn’t go to college, and many don’t speak English very strongly.  But they love their children as much as  you love yours.

        What nags me some about your comments is why couldn’t any of the AIM parents, who value the program so much and think it is wonderful, have taken the time to reach out to these parents whose kids might have been AIM-identified to personally invite them into the program and talk to them about what the program is all about?  It does seem that a number of achievement gap students were AIM-identified.

        1. Don Shor

          How would you expect the GATE parents to know which “kids might have been AIM-identified”? How does a parent “personally invite them into the program” when it is an administrative function to test, identify, and place gifted-identified kids? How reasonable would it be for a GATE parent to be urging the program on parents when there is a lottery to fill a limited number of seats?

        2. wdf1

          Don Shor:  How would you expect the GATE parents to know which “kids might have been AIM-identified”?

          To have gone to Deanne Quinn or whomever fills her role in the future and ask, would you arrange a meeting with these parents so that maybe they could talk to other parents in the program about what it is.  I would presume that at some point students are AIM-identified.  That would be the appropriate time to have the event.

  6. A Hance

    Another point of view?
    I’m thinking of non-school things that could perhaps help in reducing the gap.
    One idea – assuming that an underlying problem is that many under-achieving children get less academic support at home – would be for each elementary school community to donate to the neighborhood school their surplus children’s story books or youth-level nonfiction books. These books could then be made available by the school or PTA, for any title I or free-lunch student to regularly select and take home to read – and keep. This might be a PTA/PTO project or one initiated by each school.

    Another idea, also potentially associated with PTA/PTOs, would be for these groups to be willing to include information about non-school events in their newsletters to parents. My experience with being told by PTA/PTOs that they will not include information about Explorit Science Center (local nonprofit) events in their newsletters has been on my mind for a long time as being a disservice to the underserved children who might benefit.

    A third idea is one that would almost certainly need school district funds to be used as fees-for-service for underserved children. In this idea local educational nonprofits like Explorit could provide after-school enrichment programs to help to excite children about learning. One such existing program is the excellent Writing Buddies Program brought to Davis by Robby and Tony Fanning. Perhaps we have some locals who could start a one-on-one after school reading program.

    During the forty-plus years that I’ve lived in Davis I’ve been involved with many local efforts at academic enrichment – some of the Vanguard readers might remember the  “Learning For Fun” programs (in partnership with the City of Davis) of the late 1960s, or the (independent) Davis Educational Enrichment Program of the 1970s and 80s. Also in the late 1970s there were one-day conferences, SAMCON, HUMCON and MADCON  (Science, Math, Humanities & Music, Art and Drama) – that were teen opportunities run by the Davis School District’s gifted program with the cooperation of several UCD departments. These were held on the UCD campus and they were open to all – whoever wanted to attend.

    There are very many ways that our community, in collaboration or partnership with the local school district could work to reduce the academic achievement gap. And, any community effort that emerges does not need to be limited to academic subjects. There are many studies that show that enrichment in the arts and in practical endeavors can improve children’s learning in all areas.

    I am sure there are many other efforts that I’m not remembering but the point is that with some creative thinking and effort and with the support of the school district the whole community could be involved in the district’s solution to its problem.

    1. Michelle Millet

      I wish our school PTA’s were more involved in efforts to support our low income kids.

      Here is the mission of The California State PTA:

      -To promote the welfare of children and youth in home, school, community, and place of worship.
      -To raise the standards of home life.
      -To secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
      -To bring into closer relation the home and the school, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of children and youth.
      -To develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for all children and youth the highest advantages in physical, mental social, and spiritual education.

      I don’t see much of this happening. Unfortunately our PTA’s have basically turned into fundraising machines tasked with raising tens of thousands of dollars to pay for things like art teachers, reading aids, and computers.

    2. Michelle Millet

      I do want to give a shout out to Birch Lane teachers Remy Glovin who opens her 2nd/3rd classroom after school on Tuesdays for homework club, where her students can stay and get help with their homework, and who supervises sports club on Thursdays after school where kids can stay and play soccer and Brian Bennett who host a chess club in his classroom after school one day a week that is open to all students who want to learn how to play chess and practice playing against each other.

      These are examples of the voluntary efforts some of our teachers are making to help support all of our students, and I’m grateful for their willingness to provide these opportunities to those kids who may not otherwise have gotten them.

    3. wdf1

      Ms. Hance:  I appreciate your ideas, but I have a question about this one:

      A third idea is one that would almost certainly need school district funds to be used as fees-for-service for underserved children. In this idea local educational nonprofits like Explorit could provide after-school enrichment programs to help to excite children about learning.

      Could Explorit apply for grant money to fund after school enrichment to targeted under-served children?

      Also a comment:

      There are many studies that show that enrichment in the arts and in practical endeavors can improve children’s learning in all areas.

      Back in the 1970’s, Davis elementary schools had art teachers, general music teachers, choir teachers, all taught during school hours.  Also, some school sports was actually organized at the elementary school site level.  I’m thinking specifically of soccer, but there may have been other sports.  Decades later, it isn’t deemed worthy enough to have these activities paid for out of the district budget, but rather paid for by PTA fundraising have them as private activities outside of school, paid for by parents who can afford it.  The part that becomes private outside is what contributes to achievement gap issues.

      1. A Hance

        wdf1

        Could Explorit apply for grant money to fund after school enrichment to targeted under-served children?

        Yes, Explorit could – and does – apply for grants for special projects and very occasionally manages to achieve sufficient funding to carry out the project for the first year. In the second year the program is no longer ‘new’ and so is rarely of interest to a funder. This is a problem for a program that needs to continue.

        Achieving grant funding is a huge challenge especially for a small nonprofit that cannot afford a grant writer; and, seeking funding for Davis programs is especially hard since Davis is seen as a privileged community.

        My belief is that programs that are effected through partnerships are much more likely to be successful. When both partners commit valued resources more attention is paid to ensuring success.
         
        Referring to your ‘comment’, my children too benefitted – hugely – from Davis elementary school music and arts and even some introduction to a foreign language. I’m told that these have been replaced by more emphasis on the three Rs and adherence to state and other requirements. A sad state of affairs but surely a worthy challenge that our community working together as a village could address without creating exclusive opportunity.

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