Survey Gauges Support Level for Parcel Tax

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Parcel-Tax-ChalkBy Nicholas von Wettberg

In its commitment to responsible fiscal planning, and to offset average support through the state’s educational funding system, the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) has all but guaranteed that, come November, residents will vote on a parcel tax ballot measure.

Trustees held a special meeting at the Community Chambers, on Monday night, to discuss the details of the parcel tax, such as its potential rate, range of services, and duration.

Attending the meeting were employees from EMC Research, who provided the school board with results from a telephone survey conducted this month, in which the responses of 400 Davis voters were recorded as part of a parcel tax feasibility study.

The current and future impact from funding as a result of parcel taxes, which has been an integral part of the Davis educational landscape now for over three decades, is roughly $9.5 million (Measures C & E collectively), maintaining needs and supporting services like math and reading programs, core classes, secondary foreign language programs, and music programs.

EMC Vice-President Jessica Polsky, who presented the findings to the five-member board, confirmed that the main goal of the telephone survey “was to identify the level of support among likely voters for a $620 parcel tax for the November 2016 ballot.”

Perhaps the most crucial finding of the study was that over two-thirds of respondents supported the parcel tax, which would be ideal for the passage of such a measure.

Support was high with younger voters and for those with minimal voting history (low propensity).

While an increase in rate (from $620 to $750) did receive a majority of backing, it was not enough to cross the two-thirds threshold, although Polsky pointed out that the order of questions might have been a slight influencer.

Just below three-quarters of the respondents answered optimistically when asked if the community’s school climate is favorable, and that “things here in Davis are generally going in the right direction.”

When compared with responses to the same warm-up question from eight years ago, there was a difference of only two percentage points, from 75 percent in 2008, down to 73 percent for 2016.

Another comparative question had to do with the perceived need for increased public school funding.

In 2008, 36 percent of residents said there was a great need for more money while almost an equal amount (35 percent) now said there was some need.

The percentage of responses indicating belief that there is a great need for more funding in 2016 was exactly halved, down to 18 percent. The amount of those who feel there is some need for more funding jumped up three points, to 38 percent.

Broken down to sub-groups, parents with students currently enrolled in a DJUSD school had the highest amount of responses (25 percent) that said there is a great need for increased funding. Under half (46 percent) of the parents with current students responded with some need for more funding.

Responses from former parents appeared lower in both the category of a greater need (21 percent) and some need (35 percent) for more funding.

Gauging a general awareness for parcel taxes was another one of the questions.

Looking back to the answers given in 2008, only 45 percent of the people said they were aware of a parcel tax for DJUSD. Fast forward to now, and 59 percent of respondents said yes, there is a parcel tax.

When those who said yes were asked how much Davis homeowners pay each year for the school parcel taxes, 12 percent said the amount was $200 or less, 13 percent said the amount was between $201 and $400, 11 percent said the amount fell in the range of $401-$700, and 10 percent said the amount was $700 or more.

Over half (54 percent) of the respondents did not know how much Davis homeowners pay each year.

“The basic takeaway for us is that there’s not a lot of understanding of what homeowners currently pay in parcel taxes,” said Polsky.

The level of awareness of an existing tax varied dramatically between subgroups of renters (26 percent) and homeowners (81 percent), and between subgroups of parents of current students, parents of former students and other.

Not surprisingly, the subgroups consisting of homeowners and parents of current and former students (79 percent & 80 percent) were the most aware of an existing parcel taxes.

Quality of education and trust in the school district were the subject of the phone survey’s next series of questions.

The first was whether voters believed the district was doing an excellent job (28 percent), a good job (52 percent), didn’t know what kind of job (7 percent), only a fair job (12 percent), or a poor job (2 percent) overall.

Voters were then asked how they rated the quality of education, with responses finishing at 40 percent for excellent, 44 percent as good, 6 percent saying they didn’t know, 8 percent saying it was only fair, and 2 percent responding that the quality of education is poor.

“So, almost universally positive ratings and we took a look just to compare these questions with some other districts that we worked for and these ratings are quite high, definitely among the higher-performing school districts that we worked for,” Polsky said.

Three out every four voters surveyed answered yes when asked if they had trust in the district with their tax dollars.

Attitudes about taxes comprised the next pair of questions, which were whether voters thought taxes were already high enough, or if they would be willing to raise taxes in order to maintain the quality of schools.

Sixty-two percent of respondents disagreed that taxes are high enough, while a whopping 83 percent of voters agreed that raising taxes would be worth it as long as the quality of education remains a top priority.

Circling back to the initial parcel tax measure, a 75-word ballot question was provided for voters participating in the survey.

The sample question reads: “To maintain outstanding academic programs in math, science, reading and writing; retain high-quality teachers; keep class sizes small; support student health and safety; and maintain student athletics, arts and music programs, shall Davis Joint Unified School District replace its expiring school parcel taxes at the 2017-18 rate of $620 per parcel for 8 years, raising approximately $9.5 million per year to be used exclusively for Davis schools, with citizens’ oversight, annual audits and an exemption available for seniors?”

Voters were asked if they would currently vote yes or no to approve the measure, and 74 percent said yes, 21 percent said no, and 5 percent were undecided.

As for initial support on the parcel tax measure, by subgroup, what stood out to Polsky was the high level of support among younger voters, renters, and low-propensity voters.

One of the key aspects to the survey had to do with overall willingness to support a tax.

Sixty-four percent of voters strongly agreed that they would vote yes to approve an annual parcel tax of $750 with the operative word being to “improve” educational programs.

That number jumped to 71 percent when voters were asked about approving the $620 measure for the district.

Three voting demographics that ranked high in their yes responses to support for a $750 parcel tax were those aged 18 to 49 (80 percent), renters (76 percent), and those who have voted between zero and three times in the past six general elections.

Reliability was one of the influential factors in the survey, overriding techniques like a split sample amount with unbiased read, because of the relatively small number of voters polled would entail a bigger margin of error.

“We knew that it was extremely important at this point in time to renew the parcel taxes to maintain current programming,” Polsky explained. “We also knew that the $620 amount was higher than average for a parcel tax. We didn’t know how voters would respond to that but knowing that it’s extremely important to renew that amount, we all arrived at that as the priority for the survey, the primary goal figuring out if that measure would pass.”

Trustee Barbara Archer, who serves on the district’s Parcel Tax Subcommittee, said that they made sure to include questions about the higher amount ($750) so they “would have some data for discussion.”

According to Polsky, the decision to use the $750 amount was based on factoring in additional programming and the voters’ ability to digest the figure.

Board Member Susan Lovenburg asked how the length of term (8 years) was reached, and if it was by choice or advised.

“We definitely recommended a sunset of more than four years so that voters don’t have to vote on this again in such a short period and also based on our experience,” said Polsky. “We do see that voters tend to be willing to support a longer term than four years.”

Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby explained that the district likes the parcel tax to stay on course with the general election.

“Increments of four are just better for our passage,” he said.

Trustee Lovenburg wanted to know how the board would use the poll to inform voters if they believed there was a reason to increase the tax past the $750 amount.

“Do you think that there is an ability to extrapolate from this or would you actually have to go back and retest a higher amount?” Lovenburg asked.

Polsky answered yes on both fronts.

“I think if you were to go back and test a higher amount, all of this data would stand and you would have a very simple poll that simply tested a ballot question with a higher amount,” she said. “I also think that it’s interesting to see that there is some price sensitivity because we saw more lower-level support for $750 than for $620.”

Polsky added: “That does suggest that while there’s a limit for some people, for a few people, so we think in order to pass more than $620 it would require as we say really careful consideration of the risks and potential rewards. Again, we could definitely go out and do another survey and test an unbiased question with a higher amount but I do think you can take away from the survey that there’s a very high level of support for both amounts whether we would exceed two-thirds for a higher amount than $620 you can’t say for sure from the poll.”

Trustee Alan Fernandes commented about how surprised he was at the lack of understanding of the actual amount of the parcel tax.

“I surmise that’s because we’ve just had layer upon layer of parcel taxes and different durations and times, etc., but is that common in your experience that the public really doesn’t know really what they actually pay in the parcel tax?” Fernandes asked.

“It’s extremely common,” Polsky said. “Its very rare for the public to know the dollar amount that they’re paying.”

Parcel tax guru Jay Ziegler believes the district should take a good look at its increasing reliance on parcel tax money, which he pointed out accounts for 10 percent of the operating budget. He cautioned not to think the measure would solve a dearth of long-term problems.

“I’m reminded in our series of campaigns in past years that what the Board also has to wrestle with are changing circumstances that we don’t really know what 2018, what 2020 is going to bring in new challenges to the district,” Ziegler said. “I think my cautionary note in this evening is that I think all of us are very comfortable thinking about lengthening of term, in providing more assurance on what the base of the tax delivers in a predictable fashion for the district in planning.”

Ziegler added: “However, I think when you think about technology challenges that the district has to respond to in upgrading its curriculum by meaningful in-class instruction connects with kids in an increasingly complex world you know that’s another issue that’s not addressed in the parcel tax. There are a lot of things that are not built in to the thinking strategically beyond, really, what’s our visceral reaction to the performance of our schools and what do we think this community is to provide in order to meet that baseline?”

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55 thoughts on “Survey Gauges Support Level for Parcel Tax”

        1. Barack Palin

          In past school parcel taxes the apartments were only assessed $20 per unit.  Is that passed on to the renters?   Maybe, maybe not.

          With the lawsuit filed against Measure E the remedy was:

          Faced with a losing hand, Davis Joint Unified School District last week agreed to settle a lawsuit challenging its parcel tax, which charged apartment owners a different rate from other property owners. Under the settlement, all property owners will be charged the same: $204 per parcel.

          So entire apartment complexes only have to pay the $204 charge, not the per unit $20 charge. I doubt fifty unit apartment complexes passed along any of that $204 to apartment owners.

          Matt, why do you think any new school parcel tax would be structured any different than Measure E which had to abide by the lawsuit?

          http://edsource.org/2013/davis-unified-drops-parcel-tax-on-apartments-settles-lawsuit/40642

        2. wdf1

          BP:  So entire apartment complexes only have to pay the $204 charge, not the per unit $20 charge. I doubt fifty unit apartment complexes passed along any of that $204 to apartment owners.

          The lawsuit was brought by Jose Granda against Measure E, and the results are as you describe.

          There is currently a $150/unit assessment for multi-unit dwellings through Measure C, which expires at end of the 2016-17 school year.  After that, any voter-approved school parcel tax can only charge one flat fee for the entire apartment complex or parcel.  I think it likely that apartment owners would absorb most or all of the difference after that point as profit.

          Ironically, one argument that Granda made against the school parcel taxes is that it was unfair that apartment dwellers paid less than homeowners.  Because of the Borikas decision, and the lawsuit that Granda signed on to and prevailed, apartment dwellers would generally pay even less than individual homes for any approved school parcel tax in the future.

        3. wdf1

          BP:  So my original point is correct, the people least likely to have to pay the tax are supporting it.

          Partially correct.  If you live in Davis and you don’t take an exemption as a  home owner for being a senior citizen or SSI recipient, then you pay it, either directly or indirectly.

          In general, apartment renters will pay less, but they still pay for it indirectly.  They often happen to be younger voters (UCD students).  Education is more of a desired personal commodity for younger voters than it is for you.

        4. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > renters pay the tax, just indirectly through their rent payments.

          Just like they pay higher taxes on the “rich” that most renters vote for (but few understand that they end up paying indirectly)…

        5. hpierce

          Actually, untrue Matt… at least on SF rentals… some but not all landlords pass on City utility payments…. know of no instance where they pass parcel taxes on… what’s the point? ~$50/mo @ current rates… so if it goes up by $150, landlords will up their rates  by a bit over $10/month? Out of ~ $1800?  Not real…

          Even LESS true for MF… it’s a damn PARCEL tax… not paid by units, but by PARCELS… more is the pity… a MF unit with 2 kids in school, under ANY scenario pays far less than a childless couple in a SF home-owner unit.

          Representation without taxation is what it truly is…

        6. Matt Williams

          hp, like BP, you are looking at the tax expense in a vacuum (as an isolated free standing transaction).  It is never looked at that way.  In the rental rate setting process the $204 parcel tax is included with all the other expenses in an all-inclusive expenses total, which is then divided by 12 to get a monthly aggregate expense figure, which is then allocated to the individual apartment rental rates as a lump sum (no itemization).  Those lump sum expenses are not lined out for the tenants by the landlord.

      1. Matt Williams

        BP, it is a simple microeconomic principle that prices are set based in part by the costs incurred in the assembly/making of the product/service.  Taxes are costs for the landlord.  Those costs will be passed through to the tenants, especially since the tax rates are the same for all the competitors in the apartment marketplace.  There is no reason for the landlords to absorb those costs.

        You appear to have changed your argument from whether the renters will pay taxes, to the amount of taxes they will pay, and of course that varies based on the type of rental.

        1. Barack Palin

          Matt, if a fifty unit apartment complex is only charged a flat fee $204 school parcel tax for the entire complex do you really believe they they passed the $4.08 for each unit on to the renters?  I don’t…….

        2. The Pugilist

          Yeah let’s think about what Granda and Randall accomplished with their suit:

          1.  The District is getting far less money

          2.  Instead of each rental unit going for $20, they pay nothing (or virtually nothing)

          So did they make the system more fair?  No.  They actually made it less fair.  Did they help the taxpayers?  Only a handful of large apartment owners who were probably passing on the $20 to their tenants anyway.  Did they help the schools?  Nope.

          Good move guys.

        3. Matt Williams

          BP, you are looking at the tax expense in a vacuum (as an isolated free standing transaction).  It is never looked at that way.  The $204 is added together with all the other expenses and then divided by 12 to get a monthly aggregate expense figure, which is then allocated to the individual apartments as a lump sum (no itemization).

  1. Matt Williams

    I was one of the 400 voters they polled.  I felt the poll was well done as a whole.

    In the way that the questions were posed and sequenced, I did detect some bias toward increasing the parcel tax from $620 to $750.

    I thought the way they handled the “gauging the general awareness for parcel taxes” question was particularly well done.  They asked that question and then shortly thereafter asked a question in which the observant participant got the $620 per year answer as background to the questions that followed.

    In today’s world of Caller ID it was interesting to receive an incoming call that was from Idaho.  Since I don’t know anyone who would be calling me from Idaho, I almost didn’t answer the call, thinking that it was a telemarketer.  I was glad I didn’t decide not to answer.

    1. wdf1

      It was mentioned at the school board meeting.

      Measure C:  $327 for single family dwellings, and a little more than $153 ($150 + inflation factor since 2012)

      Measure E: $204 for each parcel, regardless of how many households live there.

        1. The Pugilist

          Because they didn’t put an inflator on the original tax.  Basically you got a small reduction in your tax each year and now the money will be effectively re-adjusted.

        2. The Pugilist

          If you assume 3% (which is probably higher than it was), it would be $585 after four years.  No remember, this is a multi year tax.  You reach $620 (again at the 3% rate) at year 6.  So they appear to be attempting to shoot for the middle year inflation rather than put an inflator on.

        3. The Pugilist

          But of course the key question is not how much is the US inflation rate going up, but how much are educational costs going up.  I’m guessing they want to ball park it and round it as needed.

        4. Barack Palin

          Yes Don, inflation has been closer to 1 to 1.5% for the last four years.  In fact there was no inflation raise for SS recipients this year because our gov’t told us there was no inflation.  So once again, how do we get from $520 to $620 when the inflation numbers don’t justify it?

        5. The Pugilist

          You don’t know that the numbers don’t justify it – you haven’t looked at costs, you only looked at US inflation numbers which is an average.

        6. wdf1

          nameless:  Huh?  $320 + $200 = $520!  So in my book that is an increase of $100 a year, if my math is right.

          and

          BP: So once again, how do we get from $520 to $620 when the inflation numbers don’t justify it?

          The increase of $100 (to $620) is to account for the fact that legally school districts cannot charge a different rate for apartment dwellers and single family units.  It has to be the same amount per parcel.  An apartment complex with 50 units is one parcel.  A single family house is another parcel.  You have to charge the same amount.  Measure C charged separate rates (it was allowed to remain in effect because it went unchallenged when it was implemented).  Going forward, the district cannot propose separate rates for multi-unit dwellings (apartments) than for single family dwellings (regular homes).

          The rate of $620 is what the district would have to go with if they wanted to bring in the same amount of revenue with after Measures C & E expire.  That’s where the $620 comes from.   The actual inflation factor is more like $3-4 per year.

        7. Barack Palin

          Okay, what you say wdf1 makes a lot more sense.  DPugilist, are you reading this?

          The article states that the lawsuit only made a difference of $44,000 in lost revenue for Measure E.  I guess lost revenue for Measure C will amount to much more.

          So once again, wdf1, you just showed with your stats that homeowners are once again forced to pay the lion’s share of the tax while renters are getting off even easier.

           

        8. wdf1

          BP:  So once again, wdf1, you just showed with your stats that homeowners are once again forced to pay the lion’s share of the tax while renters are getting off even easier.

          Props to Jose Granda.

        9. Barack Palin

          No matter how we got there David Greenwald, the fact still remains that homeowners are paying through their teeth for these school parcel taxes while renters are basically getting a free ride.  I hope hommeowners realize how unfair that is and vote accordingly.

          1. David Greenwald

            I hear you however, I’m not exactly troubled by it. Parcel tax is not an equitable way to tax people, but it’s what we have. So are you willing to change state funding laws for schools?

        10. Barack Palin

          Yes I’d like to change state funding laws.  How about our local schools get their fair share of state money instead of the state funneling out money where liberals use some social enginnering agenda.  What ends up happening is we as Davisites pay into state taxes just to get back an unfair return and then have to reach in our pockets once again to make up for the funds we should’ve received in the first place except for Gov. Brown’s cockeyed way of dishing out the funds.

        11. The Pugilist

          BP: What you say makes sense to me.  Davis got screwed in this deal.  Homeowners ironically are now going to get more screwed because of Granda.

        12. Barack Palin

           Homeowners ironically are now going to get more screwed because of Granda.

          Maybe, maybe not.  Possibly when homeowners see how much more they’re going to get hit with and realize that renters are getting a free ride they will simply vote no.

          I’ll have to do my best to get the word out.

          One thing I do know is that homeowners tend to vote where renters don’t.

        13. wdf1

          BP:   How about our local schools get their fair share of state money instead of the state funneling out money where liberals use some social enginnering agenda.

          Interesting.  It seems like you would still want the state government to solve our school funding issues rather than rely on the local community.  Does that make you a big government conservative?

          As much as you would like to bend the state government to your wishes, I think it will be impossible for the state to ever care that much about what you want.  You have a better chance of seeing the schools run how you might like to see them run at the local level.  But the only way to do that is to pony up the money to make it happen.  As long as the state provides significant funding for K12 education, they will have their strings attached and dictate how that money should be spent.

          The local school parcel tax is what allows us to have our local say.

        14. Barack Palin

          And because the state knows that some school districts can take money from its hard working citizens in the form of parcel taxation the state will never step up and share the state school money evenly and fairly and instead give it to districts with high immigrant (both legal and illegal) populations at our local student’s and homeowner’s expense.

        15. Matt Williams

          BP said . . . “Possibly when homeowners see how much more they’re going to get hit with and realize that renters are getting a free ride they will simply vote no.”

          For the purposes of discussion . . . regarding BP’s point above, homeowners possess a real estate asset, the value of which is affected by the perceived quality of local schools.  Apartment renters possess no real estate asset, so their personal worth is not affected by the perceived quality of the schools.  Given that, is the typical homeowner going to vote against a parcel tax that protects the value of his/her real estate asset?

  2. Don Shor

    Seems that a simple survey would have been:

    Do you know the current parcel tax amount paid by homeowners for the schools?

    Do you know the current parcel tax amount paid by apartment dwellers for the schools?

    Should the current amount of _____ be renewed?

    Should the amount be increased to: (choose one) ?

  3. Frankly

    But of course the key question is not how much is the US inflation rate going up, but how much are educational costs going up.  I’m guessing they want to ball park it and round it as needed.

    This covers just about everything related to running out of other people’s money and needing perpetual tax increases.  Nothing that government does should ever have cost increases greater than the rate of inflation unless the government is justified in these higher costs with commensurate greater service.

    Instead what we have gotten with the education system is cost increases well exceeding the rate of inflation and crappier services.

    1. Topcat

      Nothing that government does should ever have cost increases greater than the rate of inflation unless the government is justified in these higher costs with commensurate greater service.

      When I was growing up I remember the sales tax rate was around 4%, but now it has almost doubled.  Are we getting double the government services now than we did then?

        1. Frankly

          The property tax rate has gone down, but not relative to the consumer price index.

          The median home price in 1978 was $70,890.

          Today it is $483,280

          If housing costs had kept to the rate of inflation the median price of a home today would be $258,913.

          Now you can also blame the lack of housing development over the same time.  After the war, from 1940 to 1989 California built 9,484,273 new housing structures… more than 2 million per decade.  It fell in the 1990s to 1,577,726, and again in the 2000s, and then again in this decade.

          California continues to have the highest overall tax burden of any state except Hawaii and New Jersey.  It was actually lower on the list in 1978.

          The bottom line is that the complaints about prop-13 are all lies.  California does not have a problem bringing in tax revenue, it just continues to spend way more than it takes in.

           

           

        2. hpierce

          You and Frankly make broad statements that are equally untrue… prior to prop 13, one agency I worked for actually had their RATES (%-ages) go down prior to Prop 13… the rate actually went up!  [Millbrae, CA].

          Frankly’s assertion is blatantly false… if you bought a home in 1980, when inflation was in double digits, and still own it, you’re ‘golden’ as to property taxes/inflation… and, assessed values were reduced after 2008 for many properties [strike one, Frankly]… parcel taxes are just that… not ad valorem (strike two, Frankly)… [talk about someone claiming the “victim mentality!]

          Am not sure if I’ll support/vote for a renewal/increase of the DJUSD parcel taxes… truly… it will be based on philosophical considerations, not financial… we’re fortunate enough where it is ‘chump change’.  Won’t make or break us.  But there are other ‘charities’ [Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, Smile Train, etc.] that we would re-direct that money to… some folk need the money/resources more than the teachers , staff, and administrators @ DJUSD… particularly the latter…

           

           

           

    2. wdf1

      Frankly:  Nothing that government does should ever have cost increases greater than the rate of inflation unless the government is justified in these higher costs with commensurate greater service.

      Just a note, if you want to take a socialist stance when it comes to K-12 education (as you have embraced), then you are looking at a government run service.

      Frankly:  Instead what we have gotten with the education system is cost increases well exceeding the rate of inflation and crappier services.

      Increasingly social services (welfare) have a nexus with schools because if a child has a poor diet, poor housing, and/or poor health (including mental health) services, then it maybe pointless to attempt to close the academic achievement gap.  Throw in transportation issues, general stress and inefficiency of being poor, and access to the full range of enriching activities (pre-school, Little League, music lessons, trips to museums and national parks, etc.) that you and other middle class+ parents provide our kids.  Since you were in grade school, legislation has required teachers to have more education, be able to serve a wider range of students, keeping more students in school to graduation, at higher standards than was required of you.  That all costs more money.

      There are a number of indicators that show that your generation had a crappier education than today’s children.

      One factor that makes today’s education spending inefficient is excessive focus on standardized test scores and placing more meaning on them than is deserved.

      NPR, 25 April 2016:  Can more money fix America’s schools?

       

      1. Frankly

        You don’t seem to be making much of a counter-point here.  I said:

        “Nothing that government does should ever have cost increases greater than the rate of inflation unless the government is justified in these higher costs with commensurate greater service.”

        Great NPR article.  And it repeats what I have already read and know that there is no reasonable correlation between spending and education service value.  Certainly you could spend $50,000 per child per year and probably manage to get better results, but that would be both unsustainable and unnecessary.  Every other industrialized country spend less per student than does the US and many do a much better job.

        There are a number of indicators that show that your generation had a crappier education than today’s children.

        Depends on what you are measuring.  If you are measuring the number of students that graduate and then go on to have a prosperous and economically self-sufficient life, then you are absolutely wrong.  If you are measuring the number of students from affluent and well-educated parents that get into GATE programs, get indoctrinated into a liberal worldview, go to college, get a government job and vote reliably Democrat… then you are absolutely correct.

        My point about being a socialist when it comes to K-12 education is that all students should be provided what they absolutely need to ensure they are best prepared for their next step toward a life of economic self-sufficiency. I support the government running the enterprise only if the government can do this job. Otherwise, I want it to be outsourced to private operators… to run it like a socialist enterprise.

        1. wdf1

          Frankly:   If you are measuring the number of students that graduate and then go on to have a prosperous and economically self-sufficient life, then you are absolutely wrong. 

          Over time a steadily increasing percentage of students are completing high school and are enrolling in college.  The percentage of Americans with a college degree is steadily increasing.  The best tangible marker for economic resiliency and earning potential is a college degree.  That part is positive.

          A big way that K12 education is falling short is in using standardized tests as the absolute marker for academic achievement.  (And locally this is also a problem with AIM/GATE identification) I don’t think Common Core testing is changing any of that.  It narrows the curriculum and limits the opportunity to explore other interests.  It’s worse in lower income communities, mostly because their students tend to perform lower on standardized tests.

          If you want to see students ultimately have good life outcomes, then measure those life outcomes; don’t use standardized tests instead. Admittedly one has to wait a very long time to see results play out, but they’re more in line with what you want.

          I point out to you the part of the NPR piece that most caught my attention:

          Instead of test scores, these researchers used very different measures of success: long-term outcomes like educational attainment and a student’s income in adulthood.

          Why? One of the authors of this study, Northwestern’s Kirabo Jackson, says that important social-emotional skills — sharing, cooperation, persistence — may not show up in a test score, but cultivating them in schools can help a child succeed in later life.

          “They’re designed to teach students things like, ‘This is how you share. This is how you become a good person.’ And these things play out,” Jackson says. “If you go to a job interview and you don’t understand that you need to show up on time and be polite, you’re not going to get that job, no matter how smart you are.”

          Translation: If funding increases helped build students’ social-emotional skills, then low test scores wouldn’t necessarily mean the money was wasted. source

  4. South of Davis

    wdf1 wrote:

    > Increasingly social services (welfare) have a nexus with schools

    > because if a child has a poor diet, poor housing, and/or poor health

    > (including mental health) services, then it maybe pointless to

    > attempt to close the academic achievement gap. 

    It sounds like the lack of “affordable” housing units in Nishi will not only help the developers, but will also help the schools.

  5. wdf1

    29 April 2016, NY Times: Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares

    We’ve long known of the persistent and troublesome academic gap between white students and their black and Hispanic peers in public schools.

    We’ve long understood the primary reason, too: A higher proportion of black and Hispanic children come from poor families. A new analysis of reading and math test score data from across the country confirms just how much socioeconomic conditions matter.

    Children in the school districts with the highest concentrations of poverty score an average of more than four grade levels below children in the richest districts.

    Even more sobering, the analysis shows that the largest gaps between white children and their minority classmates emerge in some of the wealthiest communities, such as Berkeley, Calif.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Evanston, Ill. The study, bySean F. Reardon,Demetra KalogridesandKenneth Shoresof Stanford, also reveals large academic gaps in places like Atlanta and Menlo Park, Calif., which have high levels of segregation in the public schools.

    Interesting.  But I would have liked to see the data broken down by parent education level.

    1. MrsW

      Thanks for posting these links. With such a small city-footprint (approx. 10 square miles), some of the logistical challenges that face student integration or re-integration would not be as large for Davis as the communities listed above .  Evanston, IL is smaller (appox 8 square miles), but all of the other towns cover a much larger geographic area: Berkeley, Calif. (18 sq mi); Chapel Hill, N.C. (20 sq mi); Atlanta (132 sq mi); and Menlo Park, Calif. (18 sq mi).

      As DJUSD seeks to reduce the achievement gap, I hope DJUSD deems integrated classrooms worth a serious look. One way, would be to consider re-instituting the primary and elementary school configuration.

        1. MrsW

          How do you look at any idea seriously?

          “One way, would be to consider re-instituting the primary and elementary school configuration.”

          I wonder how increasing the number of children the same age at the same school might be worth considering.

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